Djankov, or Selling Your Policies in Bulgaria - Follow-Up

Editorial |Author: Ivan Dikov | March 29, 2011, Tuesday // 11:10|  views

I got criticized for suggesting in my previous brief commentary that Bulgaria's Finance Minister Simeon Djankov might be a great expert but is doing a terrible job "selling" his policies to the public.

I did suggest that it might be a good idea for Djankov to consider some populist moves, i.e. raise pensions "the former communist way" – which expectedly - and fortunately - infuriated some of our readers. But my focus was on Djankov's PR skills – for example, his needlessly vocal and abrupt pronouncements that there will be no pension hikes (the last one made Tuesday).

Stuff like that has turned him into the most hated man in the country - I've heard delusional pensioners claim that blood-sucking Djankov will steal their pensions, and flee "back" to America.

No politician must be tricking the voters – but if you happen to have a positive agenda (generally speaking as I cannot be sure Djankov has one), you should try to stay in power long enough to try to implement it.

Back in 2005-2009, the Stanishev government led by the Socialists redistributed the budget surplus time and again for pensions and other spending in rather shameless populist moves.

The most prudent fiscal policy that came from that Cabinet, however, - the introduction of the flat and very low (10%) corporate and income tax rates - originated with another party in the ruling three-way coalition – the National Movement for Stability and Prosperity (NMSP) of ex PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg. Yet, this failed to win the NMSP much appreciation from the Bulgarian public, and the party even failed to make it to Parliament in 2009.

The sad Bulgarian reality is that sensible policies – be it Djankov's macroeconomic stability, or something else - don't get you much support – either because many Bulgarians don't understand them or because they are struggling to survive, and cannot afford to appreciate them. So if you're the minister of finance, you'd probably want to balance them with measures that will keep you in power if you want to get anything done.

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Tags: finance minister, Simeon Djankov, pensions, pensioners, Financial Stability Pact, populism, Sergey Stanishev, BSP, Bulgarian Socialist Party, NMSP, National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, flat tax


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