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A Contentious Popular History of Post-Communism: The Case of Bulgaria, 1996-2005
Unformatted Document Text:  14 is that management/businessmen, government/state employees, and even church and party officials are using protest as a means of political participation. Moreover, establishment protest has become a more or less permanent feature of politics in the country. [Please refer to Table 5] Table 5. Percent Protest Participants by Category by Year (more than one per protest event) 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Total Local citizens 28 29 25 20 28 21 22 31 21 40 26 Workers 34 22 25 27 19 16 24 27 28 8 23 Professionals 15 11 6 16 16 18 13 16 17 18 14 Politicians & State Empl. 6 11 10 11 5 8 11 0 19 8 9 Relig/ Ethnic Minorities 6 11 6 4 7 5 6 4 8 8 7 Youth 6 7 4 2 7 5 11 10 0 8 6 Management/ Business 0 2 8 0 9 8 2 8 4 8 5 Farmers 0 6 6 7 2 5 6 4 2 3 4 Other 4 2 10 13 7 13 7 0 2 3 6 Overall, between 1996 and 2005, a majority of protests (48% of the sampled events) were connected with the restructuring of the economy from planned socialism to a liberal market. The classical materialist concerns remained salient in Bulgaria but were on the decline towards the end of the decade. As the economy restructuring was underway, there was much less to be negotiated about wages, social benefits, and the privatization, which fueled much of the early socio-economic conflict. Given the small number of protests, in which farmers participated, only 2% of the demands raised concerned agriculture. In terms of social policy, pension and healthcare reforms were very contested (8% of the demands in the sample). The small number of political demands (7% of the demands in the sample) mainly calling for the removal of political figures responsible for particular policies suggests that protesters seemed to seek accountability from their leaders rather than to challenge the legitimacy of the political system or the accomplishments of the transition. Equally important as a check on the works of the state are “rule of law” demands (9% of all demands), which grew slightly over the decade. Such grievances include not only dissatisfaction with corruption but also demands for the protection of the political and constitutional rights and the civic freedoms of the citizenry such as guarantees for minority rights, land restitution, and an end to unlawful actions by the state or its officials. A related set of claims, which remained stable throughout the decade, concerned the operation of non-state actors – mostly businesses but in a few cases NGOs as well – in which citizens sought to regain access to the authority structures where the state had withdrawn. Last but most important, post-modern concerns such as ecology, peace, identity recognition and religious issues were the fastest growing group of demands. [Please refer to Table 6.]

Authors: Petrova, Tsveta.
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is that management/businessmen, government/state employees, and even church and
party officials are using protest as a means of political participation. Moreover,
establishment protest has become a more or less permanent feature of politics in the
country. [Please refer to Table 5]

Table 5. Percent Protest Participants by Category by Year (more than one per protest event)
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Total
Local citizens
28
29
25
20
28
21
22
31
21
40
26
Workers
34
22
25
27
19
16
24
27
28
8
23
Professionals
15
11
6
16
16
18
13
16
17
18
14
Politicians &
State Empl.
6
11
10
11
5
8
11
0
19
8
9
Relig/ Ethnic
Minorities
6
11
6
4
7
5
6
4
8
8
7
Youth
6
7
4
2
7
5
11
10
0
8
6
Management/
Business
0
2
8
0
9
8
2
8
4
8
5
Farmers
0
6
6
7
2
5
6
4
2
3
4
Other
4
2
10
13
7
13
7
0
2
3
6
Overall, between 1996 and 2005, a majority of protests (48% of the sampled
events) were connected with the restructuring of the economy from planned socialism to
a liberal market. The classical materialist concerns remained salient in Bulgaria but were
on the decline towards the end of the decade. As the economy restructuring was
underway, there was much less to be negotiated about wages, social benefits, and the
privatization, which fueled much of the early socio-economic conflict. Given the small
number of protests, in which farmers participated, only 2% of the demands raised
concerned agriculture. In terms of social policy, pension and healthcare reforms were
very contested (8% of the demands in the sample). The small number of political
demands (7% of the demands in the sample) mainly calling for the removal of political
figures responsible for particular policies suggests that protesters seemed to seek
accountability from their leaders rather than to challenge the legitimacy of the political
system or the accomplishments of the transition. Equally important as a check on the
works of the state are “rule of law” demands (9% of all demands), which grew slightly
over the decade. Such grievances include not only dissatisfaction with corruption but also
demands for the protection of the political and constitutional rights and the civic
freedoms of the citizenry such as guarantees for minority rights, land restitution, and an
end to unlawful actions by the state or its officials. A related set of claims, which
remained stable throughout the decade, concerned the operation of non-state actors –
mostly businesses but in a few cases NGOs as well – in which citizens sought to regain
access to the authority structures where the state had withdrawn. Last but most important,
post-modern concerns such as ecology, peace, identity recognition and religious issues
were the fastest growing group of demands. [Please refer to Table 6.]


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