Political Party Analysis: GERB (Bulgaria)

The first party we will cover in our analysis of Bulgarian politics is the center-right GERB party.


Overview and History

Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, better known as “GERB”, is one of the two largest parties in Bulgaria.  GERB represents the center-right with moderate leanings.  The party was founded in 2006 out of the failing remains of former Tsar Simeon II’s NDSV party, and it has received the most votes in every parliamentary election since its founding.  Their recent defeat in the 2016 presidential election caused their Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, to resign, leading to the 2017 parliamentary elections.

Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Bulgaria
Two-time Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is hoping GERB will be the largest party for the 4th straight election. (Photo from Getty Images)

Recent Electoral History and Political Power

National Party Strength Ranking: 1st

GERB is the strongest party in Bulgaria heading into the election on March 26th.  Details on their control in specific areas are below.

Prime Minister: Boyko Borisov has been Prime Minister twice, leading 2 out of the 3 most recent non-interim governments.  Both times he resigned before his term was up.

Parliament: In the 2014 parliamentary elections the party received 32.67% of the vote, 84 out of the 240 seats in parliament, and finishing in 1st place.

President:  GERB’s candidate, Tsetka Tsacheva, received 21.96% of the vote in the first round of the 2016 presidential election, finishing in second place.  In the runoff, she received 36.16% of the vote, losing to the BPS supported independent candidate.

European Parliament: GERB is a member of the European People’s Party parliamentary group in the European Parliament.  In the 2014 European Parliament elections, they finished in 1st place with 30.4% of the vote, earning 6 out of the 17 seats allocated to Bulgaria.

Projections for 2017 Election

Despite GERB’s poor performance in the presidential election, they are expected to remain strong in this year’s parliamentary elections.  That being said, their streak of victories may come to an end, as polls show them in a dead heat with the Socialist Party (BSP).  They are likely to receive the lightly lower results compared to the 32.7% they received in 2014, as opinion polls show them between 28.2% and 31.2%

This result means that they would need a coalition to form a government.  Since a leftist coalition between BSP and DPS would not reach a majority, GERB will probably be taking the lead.  They will need to form a coalition with, or have outside support from, at least 2 of the other right-leaning parties: the right-wing-populist United Patriots, center-right populist Volya party, and center-right Reformist bloc (if they make it into parliament).  Whether such a government would be successful depends on who GERB works with, as the more they have to work with the populists, the less likely things are to work out.


Economic and Fiscal Policy 

GERB’s economic policies are moderate when it comes to being a center-right party, and some of their policies even point more towards the center or center-left.  One of these policies is a large increase in the minimum wage.  They are also making a move to double the salaries of teachers throughout the country and change school funding to not be based on purely the number of students attending.  Historically, Borisov and GERB have maintained a strict fiscal policy, improving the country’s credit ratings by imposing often unpopular austerity measures.  They combined these budget cuts with a more business friendly environment in the past, allowing for growth after the crash in 2008.

Liberty Rating*:  C+

Social and Foreign Policy

On social policy, GERB is trying to present a plan that will appeal to the populists, who accuse the Bulgarian government of corruption.  This comes with their plan to remove the immunity from prosecution of members of parliament and creating a commission to investigate the highest members of government.  They also advocate for modernization of the justice system, electronically monitoring criminals, and starting a sentence right after a trial to avoid people escaping.  Their plan to reform the justice system also includes expanding police forces in smaller villages, putting cameras on all traffic police cars, and an expansion of civil asset forfeiture.  In addition to the more economic and fiscal education reforms, they also want to expand the number of psychologists and sports teams at schools, to reduce the prevalence of aggressive actions throughout the country.  On foreign policy they support working more with the European Union against Russia.

Liberty Rating*:  C-

(There is little other information in English about GERB’s policies.  We will attempt to update this further as we know more, and please contact us if you have information.)

Political Spectrum**

GERB spectrum

Based on our liberty ratings for GERB’s economic and social policy, they are a center-right to center party in the moderate portion of the right sector.  Their economic policies seem to combine fiscal responsibility and some interventionist policies, placing them slightly into the right instead of authoritarian sector.  On social policies, they promote more oversight in the government to avoid corruption while also advocating for increased policing and civil asset forfeiture, placing them into the right instead of libertarian sector.  Across the board they are more moderate due to having a mix both traditionally left and right policies.

Read our analysis of other Bulgarian Political Parties:

-Coming Soon-

*Disclaimer: The policy positions in this article have been evaluated using Wikipedia, Sofia Globe’s article on the party’s platform, and various articles concerning Bulgarian politics.  We attempt to rate the parties based on all information that is available, but due to language barriers, lack of information, or simple mistake we may have missed something.  If you feel our liberty ratings or general evaluations are incorrect, please let us know on our contact page or nicely in the comments and we’ll try to fix it.  If you have questions on how these ratings are created, feel free to ask as well.

**This spectrum shows economic liberty on the right axis and social liberty on the left axis, so 100 on both axis is “pure” libertarianism and 0 on both axis is pure authoritarianism for example.

Author: Brendan Noble

I am a political consultant, data-analyst, Hillsdale College economics alumnus, and conservative-libertarian. Twitter: @Brendan_Noble

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