Bulgarians March For Early Recall

  • Share
  • Read Later
SOFIA, Bulgaria: Call it the Belgrade method. Mired in an economic crisis, Bulgarians want change at the top, and they want it now. After daily protests by students and workers reached 100,000 people on Sunday in Sofia alone, the government agreed to meet with opposition leaders. The two sides will discuss holding early elections to replace an unpopular Parliament well before the scheduled 1998 elections. The demonstrations started last week when the Socialist Party insisted it would name a new premier without going to the polls. Socialist Premier Zhan Videnov resigned in late December, amid mounting criticism for his failure to resurrect Bulgaria's economy. Last year's inflation was 310 percent, unemployment is 14 percent and the average monthly wage has plummeted to $20. Bulgarians chose an anti-Communist, Petar Stoyanov, as the new president. He takes office Jan. 22, but in Bulgaria, the real power rests in Parliament. And Bulgarians want the Socialists out. But even as cheers of "Victory!" and "Elections!" rang out in the crowd, Georgi Parvanov, the leader of the Socialist Party, made it clear Sunday that he expected his party to stay in power for at least another year to "stabilize" Bulgaria. The Sofia demonstrators may need one more lesson from their counterparts in Belgrade: how to keep it up.