Charisma vs. WikiLeaks: Can Anything Discredit Borisov?

Editorial |Author: Ivan Dikov | May 29, 2011, Sunday // 04:34|  views

When in January-February 2011 a scandal known as 'Tapegate' supposedly shook the Bulgarian government as leaked tapes of phone conversations, whose authenticity was never really proved – or disproved, for that matter - indicated that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov himself might be involved in murky dealings in the customs, many analysts declared that Borisov had lost his popular iconic status. Well, guess what – three months later that still doesn't quite seem to be the case.

The latest string of leaked diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Sofia are, again – supposedly, a new blow to the Bulgarian Prime Minister – both former US Ambassadors John Beyrle (currently in charge of the US Embassy in Moscow) and Nancy McEldowney (currently occupying a high post in the State Department in DC) paint a rather unpleasant picture of Borisov.

He is described as having been involved with organized crime, having quiet ties with the Russians, being a master of political cunningness and PR, being conceited and thirsty for international praise. All of that is seen by the US diplomats as an opportunity to prod him in the "right direction."

All of this is certainly interesting but it is even more interesting that in many other countries such allegations would have been considered discrediting for a major politician. Borisov's ratings, however, have declined only slightly. His much discussed natural charisma continues to power through as far as the general Bulgarian public is concerned. Tapegate didn't do it, and it seems like WikiLeaks won't do it, either, unless it reveals something absolutely shocking in the future.

It's even more interesting that the Bulgarian masses don't really trust Borisov's people – his center-right party GERB is traditionally 2-3 times less popular than its lead – but they apparently do trust him.

It appears, for most Bulgarians, it doesn't really matter to have in charge a person with an impeccable record, without even unproven allegations to cast doubts on it. Their logic might make some sense - come to think of it, who better to deal with all the dirt that Bulgarian politics is than somebody who's been through the darkest spots and years of the Bulgarian transition – granted, of course, that such a person now acts on a good will.

What really matters for the Bulgarian public is not that person's record, but that this somebody fixes the country (understand that however you wish) and brings some sort of general prosperity (this, too, is up for interpretations). But even if the logic of the Bulgarian public is right, for the time being at least, neither the "fixing", nor the "prosperity" appear to be happening.

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Tags: Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Wikileaks, Tapegate, GERB, public opinion, approval rating, approval rate, John Beyrle, Nancy McEldowney


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