On Sunday, Oct. 22, Bulgarians will vote for President. So it is high time for me to join the election campaign. Bulgarian readers, vote for Nedelcho Beronov! If we fail to elect him, we subscribe to another portion of miserable reality for which we'll have only ourselves to blame.
He is the candidate of the right-wing alliance - the best part of the Bulgarian political spectrum. As for his personal qualities, although I haven't had the opportunity to follow the campaign in detail, I have impression of him as a decent, serious, composed man. As far as I know, nobody so far has managed to dig out anything compromising from his past life (e.g. using his position to enrich himself, building his career on loyalty to the Communist regime or ties with the former State Security). Just see what his opponents and the media resort to in their efforts to say something against him: that he is too old and not known to the public!
Yes, Mr. Beronov is old. So what? He is not applying for the position of a sergeon or programmer. There is nothing in the job of a President that makes an aged person unable to do it. Despite his age, Greece's Konstantinos Karamanlis did excellent work, not to mention the great Ronald Reagan.
"But (if elected) he may die before finishing his term." This is true, but the same is possible, although less likely, for any younger person. So this statement rather points to the necessity to vote for a presidential candidate with a good candidate for Vice President. I quite like Juliana Nikolova, Beronov's candidate for Vice President. Compare her to the ridiculous figure of General Angel Marin, our current Vice President. Anybody knowing any reason for him to be made Vice President other than his love to Russia and despise to NATO (remember, he was dismissed from the Army by the previous president Stoyanov for publicly speaking against NATO while Bulgaria was applying for membership). There are jokes about him. The satirical paper Starshel once wrote, "Although I don't like President Parvanov very much, I pray every evening that no piece of his supper enters his trachea and suffocates him; because, if this happens, next morning Angel Marin will be our President." Another joke: Radio Erevan was asked whether it could name a presidential team worse than Parvanov - Marin. The answer, "Yes: the team Marin - Parvanov."
Having had low birth rate for decades and massive emigration of young people since 1989, Bulgaria now suffers from dysbalanced population structure with high percentage of aged citizens. Consequently, you'll hear in all corners of the public space how important the elderly people are and what more steps must be taken to improve their plight (of course, by adding more to the already unbearable tax burden of productive-age people). In the context of this "gerontophilia", it is even more bizarre to hear attacks against a candidate because of his age being repeated again and again by opponents and media and then parroted by retired voters.
The other argument against Mr. Beronov - that he is not known to the public, is, to my opinion, much worse. Who is in fact known to the public? I think of three groups of people: (1) those already in the political establishment; (2) those known because of the nature of their work, such as top actors, singers and athletes; (3) those made known by the media. Should we restrict our choice to members of these groups only? Can we trust the media that they will make the right people known to the public in time? No, we cannot. Let's just remember the rabid media campaigns against the two reasonably good governments we've had since 1989 (those of Filip Dimitrov and Ivan Kostov) and their permanent and equally rabid anti-Americanism. Or their nuclear lobbying. Who in fact funds these media, allowing the Skat TV channel to be broadcasted and the thick illustrated copies of Trud and 24 chasa to be sold at 0.70 leva? Isn't it ridiculous that people carefully hiding from the public are now brainwashing it not to vote for an "unknown" person?
If a candidate is little known, he will become known during the election campaign. Isn't this in fact the basic function of this campaign? If Bulgarian voters give an ear to the "argument" that an unknown person shouldn't be elected, this will have dangerous consequences exceeding far beyond the current elections. It will mean effective abolishment of our constitutional right to be elected. Yes, my Bulgarian reader, they are attacking your and my right to be elected, they impose on us, the "unknown" citizens, the role of a flock, while the right to actively participate in politics is reserved for a few "noblemen" selected by them. This must not pass.
Besides Beronov, there are only two candidates with chance to succeed - the current President Georgi Parvanov and the Ataka leader Volen Siderov. I don't want right now to engage in a "negative" campaign and to explain why neither of these men should be elected. The reasons are well known to all who live in Bulgaria and even to those who live abroad but occasionally check our political news. So, even if you don't like Beronov very much, regard him as the least evil and vote for him.
Among the other candidates, one deserves special attention: Georgi Markov (happily, no relation to me). He began his political career in the Union of the Democratic Forces (SDS) and now uses this fact to present himself as "the authentic anti-Communist candidate". He can speak damn well and will surely convince some to vote for him. But at times he betrays himself. I heard him say that his goal is "to go to the ballotage and to compete with the Socialist candidate Parvanov". So, his goal is not to win, just to displace Beronov. If you are hesitating, my reader, do you need another proof that Markov is in the campaign just to steal votes from Beronov?
Markov is widely believed to have collaborated with State Security (the former Communist secret service). It is impossible to prove, because the well-cleaned archive of the State Security now contains no document with Markov's signature, just a card with his name. So we can only speculate that his participation in these election is another task by his former masters. For those who still doubt, I suggest to have a fresh look at Markov's photo or videotape. Who could, in sobriety and sanity, trust a man with such a face?
(A photo of Markov, a small one unfortunately, is shown at http://www.bgbook.dir.bg/book.php?ID=16272.)