A win for clean governance in Europe

A new anti-corruption party in the EU’s most corrupt nation, Bulgaria, leads in a parliamentary election, signaling a civic awakening.

Kiril Petkov, leader of Bulgaria's new centrist party, "We Continue the Change," reacts after the first results of the Nov. 14 parliamentary elections.

Europe’s decadeslong project to unite the Continent on both shared commerce and shared values took a big leap Sunday. In Bulgaria, which is the European Union’s poorest and most corrupt member state, a new political party focused solely on ending official graft won the most votes in a parliamentary election.

The results were a success for the thousands of civic-minded protesters who rose up last year to demand clean governance in the Black Sea nation above all else.

“Whether you are right or left is not important; what is important is integrity,” said Kiril Petkov, co-founder of the We Continue the Change party, before the election. “We are here to work with honest people, whatever their political bias.”

The party’s electoral success was built on more than promise. Earlier this year, Mr. Petkov served as economics minister under a transitional caretaker government and exposed political favoritism in public procurement during the long rule of ousted Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. He said Bulgaria, a post-communist democracy of some 7 million people, had become the EU country with the most public contracts awarded without a tender.

The election also revealed the depth of the civic awakening among Bulgarians. Mr. Petkov formed his party only in September, just weeks before the election. With little of the usual party apparatus, it won about 26% of the vote, or enough to give it the lead in forming a coalition with smaller parties that oppose corruption.

The appeal of Mr. Petkov, a successful entrepreneur with a Harvard business degree, may also lie in his promise of quick results in battling graft. “I want in the next four years to be a success story of how one small country eradicated corruption in a super short time,” he told The Financial Times.

One reason for cleaning up Bulgaria’s political culture is that the country is due to adopt the common currency, or euro. The 27-member union cannot afford another near-collapse of the eurozone as happened in 2009, when corruption in Greece led to official lies about the size of the country’s debt.

Greece has since turned a corner on curbing corruption. Now Bulgaria may do the same. The EU project of instilling values such as transparency and honesty in governance remains on track.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to A win for clean governance in Europe
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today