ISSA Proceedings 2006 – Agonistics Among The Wooden, Democratic And Monarchic Discourses In Contemporary Bulgaria
The political communication in post Communist Bulgaria reflects trends which are common for all other countries in transition to democracy, like Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and others, namely:
1. Democracy is understood as a full consensus in public life rather than as an interplay and competition among various groups, expressing different viewpoints and ideas;
2. Society is still expecting primitive egalitarism as a consequence to the ideological matrix inherited from socialism;
3. Demand-led satisfaction in terms of expectations that the state should meet all the needs of its citizens;
4. The prominent role of the workplace in association with the home, not the local community, as the crucial organizing centre of everyday life;
5. The prevalence of apathy and passivity facing the future;
6. Generalized mistrust of authorizes, elites and media. (1)
The demolition of the communist state machine and the one-party rule in all post communist countries brought about a new type of political discourse, defined by Jacques Derrida as “monstrous”. The monster according to the French philosopher is a “figure” composed of heterogeneous organisms, planted one on top of another. At the same time “monstrous is what is happening for the first time and therefore is not yet recognized”. It is “something” which still has no name, which however does not mean that the kind or combination, i.e. the hybrid of already familiar kinds is abnormal”. (2)
The “monstrous” discourse is connected with the future, i.e. with the unknown, the unexpected, which causes fear with its uncertainty. The power of the monstrous effect corresponds to the strength and contrasts the collision between the desire for change and the fear of the unknown. The reality of transition in which the very foundations of a society are destroyed, i.e. the status quo is done away with, in order to build a new civil society without knowing either its framework, or the methods and the means of achieving it, can be described as monstrous. It is here that the nostalgia and the disappointment of a large section of the population stems from. Experienced in all former communist states, the diversity of idialects became paradoxical and exotic during the last several years in Bulgaria.(3)
In 2001 Bulgaria shocked the world with three unique events in its political communication. Firstly, the last Bulgarian tsar – Simeon II Saxe Coburg-Gotha returned home after 50 years of exile, organized a political movement named after him in less than two months and won the General Elections gaining absolute majority, thus becoming the first and only King-Prime Minister of a Republic in the world. Soon after the “royal victory” in the autumn of 2001 the Bulgarian public witnessed the success of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (the reformed successor of the Bulgarian Communist Party). Its leader, Georgi Parvanov, was elected President of the Republic in the end of the same year. The third paradox of 2001 was the failure of the United Democratic Forces. Its leader, Ivan Kostov, who at that time was the Prime Minister of the only cabinet that completed its full term in office since 1989 badly lost the Parliamentary Elections. These, at first glance, paradoxical events evolved and showed their essence during the next several years when the real reasons for the change of position became evident. The paradox can be observed not only in the carriers (communicators) but in the political discourse itself (wooden, monarchic and democratic). In any case it cannot be regarded as a tag once and forever pasted on the concrete representatives.
Speaking about political language we, naturally, have to analyze such elements as key words, slogan, clips, billboards, manifestos, programs, inaugural speeches, press releases, interviews, also numbers insinuations and the black PR.
Contemporary political discourse in Bulgaria is represented by two mutually exclusive and interactive trends: vulgarization and over-simplification of the discourse on the one hand and euphemism, political professionalism, striving after political correction and indirectness on the other. Politicians use three kinds of notions: neutral, euphemistic ( Greek. eu – well and phemi – speak) and disphemistic. Among the neutral words the first place belongs to the Euro Rhetoric. The European integration of the country is becoming an indisputable argument- a taboo against every objection, which may deviate Bulgaria from the great goal. Today everything is aimed at “European policy, European language, European legal basis, European practice, European standards, European identity, European future, European partners”, etc. The category of disphemisms includes rough, coarse and neglectful designations which replace emotional and stylistic neutral nominations. It is not accidental that in the transitional political life there are so many nicknames of the political leaders: The Commander, Steam-roller, Form mistress, Simo the Mentha, etc.
Traditionally it is thought that the boundaries of the bon ton in the Balkans are quite different from these in West European institutions. We consider ourselves overemotional, vulgar, unpredictable. But during the last corruption scandal in Italy we had enough of the non-formal communication of former crowned personalities – the reactions of prince Vittorio-Emmanuelle to his cousin Simeon Saxe Coburg- Gotha) and could be enough disappointed of his non-aristocratic language. In our western neighbouring country the minister of foreign affairs of Yugoslavia called openly the head of the Tribunal in Hague “Bitch del Ponte”. In our country one may read a title in a newspaper calling “insane” the European commissioner for Bulgaria: “It’s not acceptable one olygophren, pardon me, Olli Rehn to scold us.” (4)
An utterance that is potentially face-threatening can be said to communicate difficulty. The speech directness of one of the former successful transition’s prime-ministers and party leader of DSB (Democrats for strong Bulgaria), Ivan Kostov was among the reasons because of which he gradually and irreversible lost his supporters. Ivan Kostov named his closest follower “pomiar” (stray dog) and announced that “he will vote for him with disgust”.
For all the 17 years of transition, words like “politics” and “democracy” lost their value to such a degree, that the greater part of the population associates them with negative connotations: lie, play of lies, double-tongued, chaos, mess, shit, trees, ignorance, insolence, cynicism, frauds, dirt, mud, swindlers, prostitution, idiots, mafia, demagogy, nasty sponger, whore, corruption, meanness, animal, dirty dealings, nastiness, horrors, dullard, rope dancer.
According to prof. Peter-Emil Mitev, director of the Ivan Hadjiiski (5) Institute for Ideology Surveys, the violation of tolerance today proceeds along three lines: erotica, ideology and everyday life underestimation. The erotic analogies are related to sexual activities and relations, the ideological concepts are coloured and rejected and the plain every day relations humiliate the politicians. Here are some examples: the erotic line offers various “poses”, “someone bent”, another one “squat”, a third “took each other” or frankly “are copulating”; the ideological line gives an exclusive possibility to append to every negative definition the adjectives “red”, “blue” or “yellow”, the symbolic colours of the parties; with regard to everyday life activities the deputies, members of the Parliament, guzzle, gobble “deputies’ meat-balls” (which are cheaper than in every other restaurant outside the Parliament!?), the people are bought by “jar lids” (Bulgarian house keepers make preserve food at home to support their families in winter); the discussions between politics look like “local squabbles”(Michailova and Mozer took each other by the hair). The negativism reaches a peculiar peak in making a caricature of the aristocratic origin and conduct of Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha, who “behaves like a peasant” and smells of “paunch soup with garlic and wears fusty dirty socks.”
The nihilistic nature of the Bulgarian is shown in the exclusively colourful parliamentary polemics and discussion, where one may hear far bloodier words than those, which the parliament in Britain declared as non-parliament language. Among them we can define: “stupidity”, “impudence” “betrayer”, “calumny”, “dishonesty”, “brutal insolence”, “criminal”, “hypocrite”, words and phrases, which in Bulgaria are common parliamentary practice.
Euphemisms appear when social control on speech situations and speaker’s self-control have developed. These are the reasons for the total regulations of the former socialist societies’ political language – everything was subordinated to the “General line” – declinations from it were veiled, glossed over, covered. Reality had “varnished” in order to be represented in the way the political and state leadership (that was one and the same!) expected.
Indirectness in principle is oriented to the Speaker as well as to the Addressee. The fall of the Iron Curtain broke off the dam of the nomenclature censorship and the entire political space filled up with disphemisms. At the same time indirectness as part of politeness and political tolerance plays an important role in political discourse, especially in managing verbal conflict and confrontation. Indirect verbal communication allows the accomplishment of certain potentially tense, risky or difficult utterances under the guise of other lucid and less difficult utterances. Politeness is culturally prescribed. What is considered a normal polite way of talking about, say, an elderly statesman in a developed democracy, may not be considered polite in another democracy. For example among the French and Japanese longer utterances there are more polite phrases than in the shorter ones. Thus, a request made without a mitigator and final component, is said to be power loaded or impolite. It is interesting to note that a request with a long mitigator, followed by the request itself and a final component may be so polite as to appear overdone. If such strategy is used by a superior to a junior, it will be interpreted as ironic, even sarcastic.
Usually we can distinguish four main types of indirectness, namely:
1. formulated indirectly;
2. addressed indirectly;
3. with an indirect author (proverbs, folktales, riddles which are authored by the anonymous body of ancestors) and
4. indirect because of its “key” (reproaches and criticism delivered in jokes or fashion.
The strategies through which indirectness finds expression include metaphor, silence, evasion, circumlocution, innuendo, rhetorical figures (argumentum ad hominem, argumentum ad populum, argumentum ad baculum, argumentum ad verecundiam). We will consider only some of the above mentioned strategies.
From “wooden” to democratic language
After 1989 the political metaphors entered impetuously into so called “langue de bois” (“wooden language”; the notion was invented by the French expert in Political Science Francoise Tom). Certainly she did not have in mind Bulgarian totalitarian reality. Nevertheless, this term responds objectively to it. The researchers of Socialist Rhetoric are well aware of the characteristic features of the totalitarian or wooden language: bureaucracy, depersonalization, quotations, ritualism, quibbles, and monologues. Today democratic discourse is above all dialogues; it reflects the revolutionary transformations which are most evident in lexis. The new forms of social order have made their impact on the word-building – neologisms; archaisation of terms describing phenomena of socialist reality (TKZS – socialist collective farms), de-archaisation of words, used prior to 1944 (gendarmerie, police, tsar, etc.); appearance of new terms depicting the new realities and renaming the former socialist organs of power (loan-words like Prime Minister, Vice President); historicisms – mainly from Turkish and English language and finally vulgarisms (street language – “mutra” (wrestler-gangster), “mente”-(fake).
On political metaphors, Lakoff and Johnson (1980) insist that an economic issue may be understood better if it is personified through ontological metaphors. (6) This is exactly what Bulgarian politician Ahmed Dogan indicated several months ago. He is the leader of the ethnic Turkish party “Movement for Rights and Liberties” (MRL), the most flexible Bulgarian politician of Turkish origin, who during the 17 years of transition to democracy has acted as a provider of balance in formal and informal state governance.
He is often criticized for his sophisticated philosophical constructions and the excessive use of scientific terms in his speech. However, this abstract and non-rhetorical approach is partly habitual, because while talking to his electorate, Dogan uses clear and simple language. He is the best-prepared and the most experienced politician in Bulgaria, but his sensibility does not allow him to claim the posts of prime-minister, deputy prime minister or a minister. The Balkan separatism and the rising Bulgarian nationalism would not permit him to do it. We can draw the charter of the modern democratic discourse of Bulgaria on the basis of Dogan’s speeches:
1. Though the party leader has a mission of his own, he should not be perceived as a messiah.
2. If you have not realized the existence of Mephistopheles in yourself, you can not be Faustus,
3. The problems the country is facing are so big that we all have to sit around one table as equals! Everyone should say how he can help the country instead of opening new fronts (25.10. 2000),
4. The conceitedness of a political party brings about its tragic end,
5. The loneliness of a political leader who is not striving for a constant and constructive dialogue, but views himself as a patron saint, as an icon or a messiah, leads to one’s over exaggerated self-evaluation, which does not correspond to the real voters’ estimate,
6. The moral supremacy of a politician is a precondition for his political longevity”.(7)
Dogan’s political metaphor “hoop of companies” became emblematic for the political life in Bulgaria. As a reaction to it the opposition created another metaphor – “surfeit with power”. It implies the participation of this mostly ethnic in its dominant composition party in the state governing. The phrase “hoop of companies” caused a furor not only in the media and in the oppositional parties, but also among some of the coalition partners. Nevertheless the philosopher, with a PhD, and a lecturer at the Sofia University, inspires respect in politicians with his theoretical treatment of the nature of the transition, the necessity of lobbying and regulating it by law. We should remind that around the world the countries where lobbying is legalized, as it is in the USA, are not many. At the 6th National Conference of MRL Ahmed Dogan distinguished a difference between hoop of companies and oligarchy by using the metaphor “barrel”. “Hoop” is not a dirty word (i.e. political corruption) he explained, because, usually, the most fundamental is the simplest. For instance, if you take off only one hoop from a cask or a wooden barrel, it starts to leak and falls apart with time; the hoop ensures stability and safety in every system, including the media. “Oligarchy” in his interpretation consists of “powerful, at the moment, businessmen who adapt parts of the legal, judicial and executive power to their own benefit. They infiltrate people in every level of power because they need their cooperation for speculative deals, legitimating funds and activities, related to the “grey” sector.
Euphemistic speaking is the basis of politeness, political correction and indirectness. It is motivated by political interests and political necessity, as well as by personal face-saving and cultural auto-censorship. In general, experienced political actors tend to communicate in vague and oblique ways in order to protect and further their own careers and to gain both political and interactive advantage over their political opponents. This behaviour of politicians is goal-oriented and instrumental in nature.
Silence is a fact of speech communication which everybody should respect. It contains the relation between uttered speech and thought speech. Silence plays the role of background as far as speech is concerned, and that is why the mutually enriching character of their interaction is so evident. The question about the quality of their interaction is less evident, yet more meaningful.
The latest two former Prime Ministers of Bulgaria maintained constant silence in politics. While Simeon II Saxe Coburg-Gotha was trying to convince the journalists with the phrase: “You will learn it when the time is ripe”, Ivan Kostov – nowadays the leader of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria Party felt offended by the Bulgaria people, who did not understand him and did not appreciate his achievements. For two complete years he did not take part in political life and was an illustration of Homo Tacens (The Silent Man). Then, following his long self-isolation, his speeches presented ritualistic solutions, the leader’s super ego disregarded the republican principle of collective work. In their cases the paternalistic model and mentor’s tone replaced rational arguments. Kostov’s party stands for extreme confrontational style of political behaviour both against its opponents and vis-a-vis its fellow party member. Because of the authoritarian methods of leadership, Ivan Kostov was nicknamed “the Commander”.
Another feature of the present political language is the positive speaking pursuing a particular cause. For the first time in its 1300 year long history, Bulgaria is governed by a triple coalition. It came into reality due to the results from the vote and with the delicate help of President Georgi Parvanov. Notwithstanding the flood of criticism from the left and the right side, this was the only real, balanced and responsible decision. The accusations for change of people’s vote were ungrounded because the coalition was formed with regard to the idea, shared by full consensus – the accession of Bulgaria to EU. The new government configuration poses before the coalition parties new controversial requirements: to reform and to keep the status quo at the same time. These mutually excluding each other tendencies are in contrast with the promises given before the election. Naturally, the discrepancy between criticism and promises before elections are drastic. The new social situation requires a new political language, where the confrontation of ideas is subjected to national interests and the objective unifying does not lead to deprivation of individuality, depersonalization. Common work on state issues provokes partners to be critical to principles, yet to make compromises to persons. In fact political communication resembles business communication. The leading idea of the coalitional cooperation came again from Ahmed Dogan: “We need to communicate… we are thirsty for each other”. Putting economic priorities as the basis of his politics, Dogan warned the collaborators: “The most important interaction happens, when there is mutual dependence. There is an ancient saying: “There is no friendship in politics, only interests.”
The conduct of the comparatively young Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev is indicative. He is pressed by the EU commissioners, who criticize the Government in three areas: corruption, organized crime and court system. The prime minister carefully expressed his criticism in the media: 83% of his statements in the media are positive, emphasizing his enthusiasm that on 1 January 2007 Bulgaria will join the European Union, and only 3% are negative. The current President of the Republic – Georgi Parvanov as a communicator is seldom spontaneous, he rarely uses artistic speech. We can find his charisma mainly in his pro-active thinking and openness for dialogue. The President’s personal style has nothing to do with confrontation or revenge. His messages are cautious and moderate. His speeches can be characterized with the frequent use of double negations (We cannot but observe; I cannot refrain from pointing out), the conditional forms (I would like to say; I would like to point out) present him as European type of leader. His political language is a step forward; he succeeds in kerbing his emotions. No doubt that his real democratic culture brought him second victory at the presidential elections (2006).
Is Bulgaria really ruled today by “an ostrich cabinet”, which counterblows within the framework of praises for its own activity and achievements”? Or, do the prime minister and the president keep themselves from arbitrary, gratuitous political talk? Are they trying to make people have a positive view of the situation in Bulgaria, so as to make Bulgarians trust them, and to persuade the monitoring European institutions that we are “doing everything possible to meet the requirements for accession”? The positive and the negative issues are balanced: – the Euro commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn is playing the negative role, the role of the antagonist: 67% of his statements are negative: the head of the Euro-commission Jose Barroso issues 34% positive statements against 44% critical.
The media on their part balance all critically positive relations to the Bulgarian accession: 48% of all published statements are critical, 33% – positive and 19% neutral. Among the critical publications the largest part concerns the postponing of the accession and the introduction of save guard clauses (11% against 9%), reflecting the official statements that Bulgaria will join the EU on the expected date: 1 January 2007.
Evasion is the way to avoid direct answering or facing up really “difficult” or responsible communicative issue. When an interactant attempts to avoid a question or gets around it, he evades it. Evading a question involves refusing to answer it with or without explanation or mitigation. Evasion could include mitigated refusal.
The following techniques belong to the question evasions:
1. Acknowledging the question without answering;
2. Questioning the question;
3. Attacking the question;
4. Apologizing, stating that the question being asked has already been answered;
5. Declining to answer the question repeating an answer to a previous question and making a political point;
6. Ignoring the question asked;
7. Attacking the question.
All these types of answers can be discovered in the Bulgarian political practice and especially in speeches of the newest political parties – “Attack” and “Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria” (CEDB). The emergence of the nationalistic party “Attack” led by Volen Siderov looks very much like Quintillian’s “prepared improvisation”. Siderov is a well known journalist, the former editor of the “Democracy” newspaper – the organ of the Union of Democratic forces, and an anti-Semite, author of the book “The Boomerang of the Evil”. The book is branded as racist and xenophobic. The “Attack” party was formed as a protest of part of the Bulgarian intelligentsia against the corruption and the dubious morality of the Bulgarian political class and partly against the privileges extended to the Turkish and the Roma minorities in Bulgaria, presented by the party “Development for Rights and Liberties”, led by A. Dogan. This is not the popular Euro – scepticism. The vocabulary exploited by “Attack”- collapse, national betrayers, mother sellers, anti-Bulgarians, cliques, marionettes, killers and so on, have their alternative in words like: rescue, sovereignty, Bulgarization, payment and revenge. Siderov copies the manipulative schemes of his French and Austrian colleagues and reflects the most painful issues of society. His failure at the presidential elections showed that the citizens of Bulgaria are already ripe for democracy. Although, the radical negativism, for the governing class (“Everyone, but to none of those who have been in power since 1989 to follow him.”) continues to attract supporters.
Boyko Borisov – general and the present mayor of Sofia, and informal leader of the “newly born” party (CEDB) is an excellent PR man and a creation of the mass media. He rejects the political system in general, all predecessors and their activities. He is complete political chameleon: he started his professional career as a fire man, then he was a body guard of the former communist leader Todor Zhivkov, after some time – of the former king – Simeon II; Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs during the “Tsar”’s rule – quickly made general in Police forces and now – mayor of Sofia with strong ambitions for the president’s or the prime minister’s chair… We should be sorry that Berthold. Brecht is not alive to write the continuation of the story of Arturo Hi… Boyko Borisov’s answers are always controversial, ultimative and definite; his behaviour is not predictable. His next step can turn his decision to 180 degrees. Nevertheless, many Bulgarians, suffering from nostalgia for the “strong hand” of the patriarchal ruling believe in him.
Both parties castigate all the political elite (left, right and centrists) use populist means to persuade the people and to fight against the governing three – party coalition. The most correct image of these two populist Bulgarian parties gave Thomas Carothers, an American scholar, who created the following definition of the countries in transition: “They are neither dictatorial, nor clearly on the track to democracy. They have entered the political Grey Zone.”(8) This Grey Zone is characterized with political instability caused both by the activity of old authorities painfully parting with the monopoly of power, and the actions of the new authorities which legitimize themselves as the new executive elite. In such atmosphere the monarchic discourse prospers in Bulgaria already six years.
The monarchic discourse in this case characterizes a kind of political behavior, rather than a form of government. The return of the ex-king to Bulgaria and his entry into political life was so unexpected and extravagant, that it descended upon the Bulgarian public like the Tungussian meteorite. The memories of a six year old boy, saluting the guard of honor, are still alive in many people’s minds. The saying “Living like little Simeon” is still often used in the country to express a royal care-free life of plenty, without any duties or obligations. Then the public had to address a royal figure with unclear and dubious characteristics, e.g. lack of knowledge about his education, profession, social commitments, etc. On the other hand, the Bulgarian public had to put up with the tsar’s dignified aristocratic conduct with its main connotations: silence, avoidance of public accountability, contempt for the media. He treated his close aides as his royal entourage while all the rest were his subjects. The disrespectful use of first-name language, without the use of Mr. or Mrs. marked his royal arrogance.
In his Program address to the Bulgarian people on 6th April 2001, Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha put salt into the wound of millions of Bulgarians, who were staggering chaotically along the transition’s way. People had lost their faith, living in poverty and having no hope or perspective. The address was based on the contrast parallelism: the aim of the orator – radical change – concentrated in the word “New Morality in Politics”; new economic solutions with new Bulgarian ideas and new people as the moving force on the one hand and on the other hand, Simeon’s declaration “I will get in confrontation with no one”. He added that the target of the new movement would not be the parties or the individuals, but the basic problems of Bulgaria. The king turned to all his compatriots “irrespective of their political affiliation or ethnic origin”. He relied on the well-educated and the highly qualified young people as his “strongest potential ally” for the purpose of achieving the changes. In fact during his ruling the London “Yuppies” in the cabinet – young qualified and successful Bulgarians (the minister of finance Milen Velchev, the deputy prime minister and minister for transport Nikolay Vassilev), successfully carried out the Prime Minister’s policy.
The program address (9) of Simeon II National Movement (SNM) had three principle goals. First quality change of the standard of living in Bulgaria through functioning market economy in accordance with the European Union membership criteria and through an increase of the inflow of foreign investments of the serious world capital.” Simeon promised to propose “a scheme of economic measures and socio-economic partnership through which in not longer than 800 days the famous Bulgarian industriousness and enterprise would change citizen’s lives; Secondly, to break off with partisan politics and unite Bulgarian science on long cherished ideals and values which has preserved its glory throughout our millennia-long history; Thirdly, introduction of rules and creating of institutions for eradication of corruption, which has become a major enemy of Bulgaria. It has condemned the people to poverty and has repulsed life-saving foreign capital.
The power of the address was incredible. Only one month and half after it SNM won the elections by 44%. It is here that we remember Thomas Hobbes, who saw one of the great weaknesses of democracy in the fact that it could not do without rhetoric. Democracy is inclined to make decisions based on the “impulses of the soul”, rather than on “common sense” – its orators adapt themselves not to the “nature of things” but to the biases of their listeners. Therefore Hobbes and later Max Weber advised that politics should be made with the head, rather than with some other parts of the body. Democracy as a great achievement of political construction is neither realm of virtues, nor an independent super value. It is only a way of realizing freedom and social order in contemporary society. Boundless democracy endangers freedom itself and provides room for crime.
Let me make a literary analogy (everything with our former king looks like a fairy tale).On his birthday, June 16 2001, Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha won the parliamentary elections. For many years the fans of James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” have celebrated June 16, the so called “Bloom’s Day” in the streets of Dublin. On this very day Joyce’s hero, the advertising agent Leopold Bloom, set out on his remarkable stroll through Dublin (his odyssey) until he came back home in the early hours of the next day – all this covering 1200 pages. Leopold Bloom was involved in the chaotic, amorphous play of life, depriving him of personality.
One can say that the Tsar passed through Bulgaria like Joyce’s hero. The damages to his self-consciousness are deeper than those afflicted to his people. Peoples are as a phoenix; they somehow heal their wounds. But imagine a person whose birth was announced by 101 cannon salutes, who has been accepted as a king all his life, who became Prime Minister in a republic, was dethroned after 4 years on the top of the executive power. A year later, again on his birthday, June 16, 2006, an international scandal exploded; his cousin Vittorio-Emmanuele, heir to the house of Savoy, was arrested for bribing of civil officials, forgery and call girls exploitation for personal benefit…
The rule of Simeon II survived after six motions of non-confidence. In these battles, as well as in the whole 4-year “republican reign”, his main weapon was again silence, but aristocratic, royal silence. It includes: running away from the media and in general from any form of publicity, whether it concerns the decision-making process or the evaluation of a concrete political situation: “You will learn it when the time is ripe; Let us look at it from the positive side; Trust me.” Silence puts him on a pedestal above ordinary people – subjects must a priori trust his intentions because the monarch knows better what is good and what is bad for his people. Here we find the classical treatment of Ernst Kantorowicz “about the two bodies of the king” and the “dichotomy of sovereignty”. “This feudal concept of royalty (royal honors) presupposes that the king has two bodies – one profane, naturally subjected to passions and death, and the other – divine, immortal and political”. (10) Simeon himself, in his interview for the “24 Chassa” newspaper said that though he was always taught that the king should not be involved in active politics, he decided to offer his help in order to bring in “new spirit in my country” (11)
The inference that a civil society already exists in Bulgaria won’t be premature although that the public opinion was based on two other reasons. First, during his six years in Bulgaria Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha never showed preference for the Bulgarian media; he always gave interviews for foreign papers. In connection with Vittorio Emmanuele’s scandal Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha talked first to the Italian Stampa newspaper; a press-conference for the Bulgarian public was made six days latter. Second, in his statement, he didn’t mention even once that the accusations against him threw a shade upon Bulgaria – he was concerned only about his own image and the name of Savoy, on which dirt and mud was thrown so easily.
Simeon II has a sober understanding of the public opinion in Bulgaria and of the impossibility of restoring the monarchy in the country – only 18% of the interviewed supported the return to the monarchic institution. Simeon was brought up with the hope to rule Bulgaria and he has lived with it for more than 50 years. Nevertheless, he took the steering wheel of the republic without the necessary preparation. “Irrespective of the fact whether I continue to regard myself as king or not, my people accept me as the king. But my own discreetness, modesty and diplomacy, allow to me live with two hats as the Americans say.”(12) In another interview he added, “I took an oath before Bulgaria. Whether it is called a republic or a kingdom, it is still Bulgaria, as long as it remains democratic” (13)
So, the Tsar replaced the “political” with “ethical” speaking about “new morality, duty, self-sacrifice, respectability in everything, confidence, forgiveness”, etc. The monarch – republican Prime-minister changed the political system of post-communist Bulgaria; he softened the confrontational model “left-right”, “communists- anti-communists”, appointed in his cabinet two socialists – prominent representatives of executive power. In his interview for a top Bulgarian TV show Simeon quoted one of his friends who used to call him the “social Tsar”. At the same time the monarch forgot his promise not to claim back his father’s and grand-father’s property. Whatever his ancestors possessed was restituted to him (the total value of the palaces, land, forests is worth approximately US$ 200 million tax free ( for comparison the Constitutional Court of Romania decided to compensate their former tsar for the nationalized property of the royal family with the amount of US $ 30 Million).
In conclusion I would like to say that if we agree with M. Foucault that power is “the ability to control the meanings and in this way to control other’s thinking and actions” (14), we shall be convinced that this endless and opened strategic game of political discourse in Bulgaria raised the political culture. However the communicative professionalism does not relate only to the politicians but to the electorate too. That’s why Noam Chomski was right to say that: “Citizens in a democratic society should undertake a course of intellectual self-defence to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for more meaningful democracy”.(15)
Carothers, Th. (2002). The End of the Transition Paradigm, Journal of Democracy, 13.01.2002.
Chomsky, N. Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies Boston: 1989, p.1.
Derrida, J. (1992). Passages du traumatisme a la promisse in Points de suspension (Etretiens), Ed. Galilee, Paris, pp. 399-400.
Dogan, A., The supremacy of Georgi Parvanov over Petar Stoyanov in the presidential elections”, “Trud” newspaper, 15.11.2001.
Foucault, M. Dumite I neshtata, (Translation), PH Nauka I izkustvo, Sofia, 1992, p. 127.
Interview of Fani Chodzhumova, “Novinar”, 14.04.2006.
Kantorowicz, E. (1989). Les deux corps de roi. Essai sur I theologie politique au Moyen Age, Ed. Gallimard, Paris.
Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson (1980). Metaphors We Live by.
Lukasiewicz P. & A. Sicinski (1992). Attitudes in Everyday Life in the Emerging Post-Socialist Society, in Escape from Socialism (EDs.) W. Connor and F Ploszajski, Warsaw, IFIS Publishers.
Mitev, Petar-Emil, Introductory Speech, Round Table, Pre – election Speaking, Institute “Ivan Hadjiiski”, Sofia, 2006.
Saxe Coburg-Gotha, S. (2001). “I have no alternative, I will have to be the Prime Minister”, “24 Chassa” newspaper, 02.07.2001.
Saxe Coburg-Gotha, S. Inaugural Speech, 6.04.2001.
Saxe Coburg-Gotha, S. (2001). “I took oath in the name of Bulgaria”, Interview of Valeria Veleva, “Trud” newspaper, 02.08.2001.
Tsenov, G., Interview of Fani Chodzhumova, “Novinar”, 14 April 2006.
Znepolsky, Iv. (2002). The Return of Monarchic Discourse, Culture newspaper, Issue 6, 15.02.2002.