Bulgarians Feel Little Hope as Vote Looms

from The Wall Street Journal..

May 10, 2013, By Sean Carney

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SOFIA, Bulgaria—On Feb. 20, artist and activist Plamen Goranov set up a placard in front of the city hall in his hometown on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, railing against government corruption and calling for the resignation of the mayor and municipal council.

Then, soaked in gasoline, he set himself ablaze.

The 36-year-old Mr. Goranov was one of six Bulgarians who have died after lighting themselves on fire this year, becoming grisly symbols of the woes besetting the European Union’s poorest member state as it prepares for national parliamentary elections Sunday.

Bulgaria’s austerity-focused effort to cope with economic crisis has successfully narrowed the country’s fiscal gap, faster and more dramatically than in EU peer countries. But it has come at a price—a young, post-communist democracy where dreams of prosperity have for most people remained unfulfilled. Bulgaria’s per-capita economic output is the EU’s lowest, at less than half of the bloc’s average. Youth unemployment was 28.1% in 2012, up from 21.8% two years earlier, according to official EU statistics…

Link to the entire article:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323744604578475221645345616.html?KEYWORDS=Bulgaria

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