Problems of Transition: Еnhаncing Trust in and Independence of Liberal Democratic Institutions

After building the fundamental institutions of liberal democracy, two major deficits are becoming apparent at the end of the transition period: 
  • growing distrust of citizens towards the institutions of representative democracy (Parliament, political parties, Cabinet, etc.)
  • failure to guarantee the independence of the regulatory bodies and public institutions (Commission for Protection of Competition, Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, Council for Electronic Media, Communications Regulation Commission, Central Electoral Commission, National Audit Office). 
What follows is low popular support for institutions and decline of citizen participation in decision-making (low turnout, low levels of citizen monitoring institutions), while the growing role of GONGOs - the progovernmental NGOs, which take the place of the independent ones in monitoring and controlling the institutions, further erodes the trust in the NGO sector as the guarantor of independent and effective public institutions. This de facto exclusion of citizens from the public life results in growing anti-systemic attitudes - support for national-populist xenophobic parties, further eroding the quality of the democratic public environment.  
Our project aims to encourage the inclusion of NGOs in policy formulation and decision-making, in order to:
  • help raise the popular trust in the representative institutions of the democratic model - political parties, parliaments, etc.;
  • guarantee the independence of public institutions and regulatory bodies.  
After evaluating the deficits in this area, the project will aim, through developing detailed policy recommendations, to contribute towards the growing input of NGOs in policy formulation in this key area for good governance, as well as to encourage the active role of NGOs in their implementation. 
In the month of September 2015 an expert discussion was held where the Centre for Liberal Strategies team presented the main points of the analytical report dedicated to the independence of regulatory and other supervisory bodies in the country. Their theses on the topic presented Professor Valery Dimitrov (University of National and World Economy) and Dr. Atanas Slavov (Department of Public Administration, University of Sofia). The report was debated by a wide range of stakeholders in the expert discussion. 
Again in September 2015 the second expert discussion under the project was held when the project team presented the main points of the second analytical report on the topic Distrust and quality of democratic institutions in Bulgaria.
Boryana Dimitrova (Managing Partner, polling agency Alpha Research) and Dr. Stoycho Stoychev (Department of Political Science, University of Sofia) presented their views on the distrust in institutions. 
On April 4, 2015 a training on qualitative research methods (interviews and data analysis) was conducted for students who participated in the research for the project Problems of transition. 
During the month of March 2015 five meetings with representatives of student clubs and informal student groups took place. The first meeting was held with members of the Political Scientist Club and students majoring in political science at the University of Sofia. The subsequent meetings were held with students of Public Administration and Cultural Studies at the same university. Meetings took place with the student association EGO POLITICO from the University of National and World Economy, as well as political science students from New Bulgarian University. Those meetings had the purpose of presenting the project Problems of transition, facilitating a discussion on the problems identified therein, and the picking of candidates to participate in the later stages of the project.

Period: October  2014 - April 2016
Coordinators: Ruzha Smilova, Milla Mineva, Daniel Smilov
Financing Organisations:  NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area
Political Studies Social Contexts Rule of Law