Bulgaria A Surprise at the Top

Opposition leader Zhelyu Zhelev is the unexpected choice to become the country's first non-Communist leader in four decades

Although they won more than half the seats in the 400-member parliament in June's elections, Bulgaria's former Communist leaders have been struggling to keep a grip on power and hold their newly renamed Bulgarian Socialist Party together. The internal crisis was triggered early last month when President Petar Mladenov, who deposed longtime Stalinist leader Todor Zhivkov in November 1989, stepped down under pressure. Mladenov had angered opposition groups and liberal members of his party by suggesting that tanks be used to break up a pro-democracy demonstration last December.

After Mladenov's departure, the Socialist leadership agreed in principle ^ that a non-Socialist...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!