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Arts & Humanities Research Council
British Academy

The Protests in Bulgaria and the Balkans in 2013: Comparing the State of Democratic Institutions

Event Report

The Centre for the Study of Democracy, Sofia, Bulgaria

This collaborative workshop, convened by Dr Gergana Yankova-Dimova (University of Cambridge) with the Centre for the Study of Democracy in Sofia, Bulgaria, considered various perspectives on the civic protests in Bulgaria and neighbouring countries in the summer of 2013. It aimed to create an inclusive environment for constructive and informative discussion between academics, policy makers, journalists and participants representing various protesters’ demands in order to promote a better understanding of why the protests had arisen and what they mean for democracy in Bulgaria. The workshop participants reached the following preliminary conclusions:

  1. A more formal empirical analysis of the profile of the protest movement is needed; it is unclear what part of the population is protesting
  2. The protests encompass many different demands; there are calls from some protesters for these demands to be united under a common platform
  3. The protests signify an upheaval in Bulgarian civil society
  4. The success of the protests should be measured not only in the outcome of demands for the government’s resignation but also in whether they result in a heightening of democratic discourse

Selected Workshop Video

(for the full workshop programme and list of participants, see below)

1) Volkan Yilmaz (PhD Candidate, Bilgi University, Istanbul)

2) Vera Tikka (PhD Candidate, Panteon University, Athens)

Related Comment

Related comment and reflection on the protests from workshop participants has been published in the British and Bulgarian media:

CEELBAS-CSD workshop CEELBAS-CSD workshop

Programme and Speakers:


  • Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Economic Program, Centre for the Study of Democracy

The Protests in the Balkans 2013: The viewpoint of the researchers and the protest organizers and protest participants

  • Volkan Yilmaz, PhD Candidate, Bilgi University, Istanbul
  • Justin Toms, Professor of New Bulgarian University and organizer of the protests in Bulgaria
  • Vera Tikka, PhD Candidate, Panteon University, Athens
  • Maria Doichinova, Centre for the Study of Democracy


  • Moderator: Gergana Dimova, Political Scientist, University of Cambridge

The Protests in Bulgaria 2013: The Role of the Media and the State of Parliamentary Democracy

  • Veselin Stojnev, Journalist, Trud newspaper
  • Gergana Dimova, Political Scientist, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Ilin Stanev, Head of Politics section, Capital newspaper
  • Dimitar Bechev, Director, European Council on Foreign Relations, Sofia


  • Moderator: Dimitar Markov, Senior Analyst, Centre for the Study of Democracy


Antoaneta Zoneva, Institute for Public Environment Development
Georgi Medarov, Sofia University
Professor Georgy Fotev, New Bulgarian University
Boryana Velcheva, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Tihomir Bezlov, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Elena Jileva, independent researcher
Maria Apostolidou, freelance journalist
Maria Petrova, journalist, Bulgarian National Radio
Maria Yordanova, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Emil Koen, Youth Centre “Kryg”
Martin Tsanov, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Lea Vaisova, New Bulgarian University
Maria Valkova, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Alexander Yanev, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Stefan Karaboev, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Daniela Mineva, Centre for the Study of Democracy
Denitsa Marinova, Applied Research and Communications Fund
Katia Koleva, Institute for Social Integration
Maria Kostadinova
Yavor Siderov, freelance journalist

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