Dr. Ani Dimitrova made the first large-scale study of their mandates, which marked a quarter of a century after November 10, 1989.
Interviews with the four presidents of Bulgaria – Zhelyu Zhelev, Petar Stoyanov, Georgi Parvanov and Rosen Plevneliev and an analysis of their mandates and causes in a book were compiled by Dr. Ani Dimitrova. The author has a doctorate in political philosophy and a master’s degree in economics. She worked for several years on this first-of-its-kind large-scale study of the President Institute and the prospects for its development.
The presentation of the book “The President of the Republic of Bulgaria 1992 – 2017 – problems and perspectives”, published by “Siela”, gathered politicians, parliamentarians, lawyers, analysts. Among them were the vice president Iliana Yotova, the constitutional judge Prof. Yanaki Stoilov, who is the author of the foreword, Krum Zarkov, the publisher of “Siela” Veselin Todorov, Prof. Daniel Valchev, Rositsa Mateva, people’s representatives and many others.
“Our recent history shows that when our presidents are not bright figures, the question of their powers does not seem to arise. And just the opposite – when we have strong people with a vision and they perceive this post not just as a place to stand, but because they fill it with content and character and have a vision of what they can offer to the citizens of the country, the question is always asked whether they are not exceeding their powers,” said Vice President Iliana Yotova.
The author shows not only the portraits of these Bulgarian statesmen, their causes and role, but also evaluates how they managed. Analyzes their role as guardians of democracy and unifiers, especially in crises. “The president personifies the unity of the nation. The presidential institution is neither designed nor can act as a parallel center of power,” commented Dr. Ani Dimitrova.
Many of the guests at the premiere of the book admit that the interview with the first democratically elected president, Zhelyu Zhelev, under the title “The transition failed. Let’s say it clearly!”, is still relevant today. Including those who consider the transition over, the author shared.
Zhelev finds the reason for the failed transition in the wrong form of government and firmly asserts that there should be a presidential or semi-presidential regime in the country. According to him, for the transition to be successful, three reforms had to be made: land return, privatization and restitution. “And they weren’t made,” he bitterly states, emphasizing the absence of moral resources. The proof of the failure of the transition, according to him, is the introduction of a currency board.
A curious touch from Zhelev’s interview is his statement: “I would never run for president, given that we are a parliamentary republic. It is a tragedy for a president – to be tied hands and feet.” Asked about his role in big politics as head of state, Zhelev answered: “It seems small to me.”
President Petar Stoyanov stated to the author that the question before Bulgaria is not whether we are a presidential or a parliamentary republic, but whether it is governed well and in the spirit of democracy.
The two-term president, Georgi Parvanov, is adamant that we are not ready for a presidential republic, and perhaps it is risky, in view of various personal conflicts. But it is for strengthening the presidential powers in several points – for the veto, to be able to trigger a referendum on his own, etc. and to have periodic presidential debates about our national ideal.
Rumen Radev’s predecessor – Rosen Plevneliev says that Bulgaria should not become a presidential republic, because that would serve Russian interests.
Among the conclusions about the work of the presidents during this quarter century, which the author refers to, is that the presidential institution grows and develops together with the political culture of parties and citizens.