TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY AND MARKET ECONOMY (1989 - 2007)
The initial stage of liberalization in Bulgaria began in 1988 with the appearance of the first informal opposition formations (Independent Society for the Defence of Human Rights, Committee for the Defence of Russe, Club for the Support of Publicity and Reconstruction). After 10 November 1989 was created the Union of Democratic Forces as an alternative of the Bulgarian Communist Party.
On 3 January 1990 was created a new political organ - ,,the Round Table", at which the Bulgarian Communist Party, the Bulgarian Agrarian Union and the Union of Democratic Forces worked out the basic decisions for the future political development and negotiated changes in the acting Constitution.
In June 1990 were held the first free parliamentary elections. A new constitution was adopted (12 July 1991), which restored the multi-party system in the country. The process of restoring private property taken away during the nationalization and collectivization began. Those sentenced by the People's Court were rehabilitated. In 1990 Zhelyu Zhelev became the first democratically elected President of Bulgaria. On 15 November 1990 the official name of the country was changed to Republic of Bulgaria.
Till 1997 Prime Ministers were: Andrei Lukanov (5 February 1990 - 20 December 1990), Dimiter Popov (20 December 1990-8 November 1991), Philip Dimitrov (8 November 1991-30 December 1992), Lyuben Berov (30 December 1992-17 October 1994), Reneta Indzova (17 October 1994 - 26 January 1995), Jan Videnov (26 January 1995 - 12 February 1997). After the short stabilization of economy, during the government of the Bulgarian Socialist Party with Prime Minister Jan Videnov, Bulgaria entered a new crisis. The inflation in the country turned into hyperinflation. As a result of the numerous demonstrations and protests and with the mediation of Peter Stoyanov (President of the country as of January 1997), on 4 February 1997 the political parties signed a Declaration of National Consent. On 12 February was appointed a provisional government headed by Stefan Sofianski, till then Mayor of Sofia. It was to prepare the next extraordinary parliamentary elections.
The elections in April 1997 were won by the coalition of the United Democratic Forces. On 21 May 1997 the National Assembly appointed the new government led by Ivan Kostov. A Currency Board was introduced on 1 July 1997and the Bulgarian Lev was attached to the German Mark with a ratio of 1000/1. The government managed to complete its term and started a belated change of property. By the middle of 1999 it managed to complete changes in the taxation system, the administration and the social system. But the general impression was of growing corruption and attempts at reviving authoritarian methods. These were part of the reasons why the representative of the Right, Peter Stoyanov, lost the elections for president held in 2001. The elections were won by the representative of the Bulgarian Socialist Party Gerogi Parvanov.
In the beginning of April 2001 the former Bulgarian King Simeon Sax-Coburg Gotha returned to Bulgaria and founded the party National Movement Simeon II (NDSV), which won the parliamentary elections, held on 17 June. On 6 April 2001 Simeon read an address to the Bulgarian people, in which he proclaimed a new moral in politics and struggle against corruption. The cabinet achieved a balanced budget, performed the difficult reforms for membership in the EU and secured economic growth.
At the meeting at the top of NATO member states in Prague in November 2002 Bulgaria received an invitation to join the Pact. On 26 March 2003 in Brussels was signed a protocol of membership and on 29 March 2004 Bulgaria became member of the North Atlantic Treaty.
After a prolonged period of negotiations, on 25 April 2005 in Luxemburg was signed an agreement for Bulgaria's membership in the European Union in 2007.
In the opinion of some scholars, the ,,Bulgarian transition" ended in 2001 with NDSV coming to power. The criterion for its completion is the result of the parliamentary elections in 2001 when the bipolar model (BCP - UDF), established in the beginning of 1990, was broken.
The social price of the reforms, the never ending scandals for corruption in the government and the low standard of living however lead to great disappointment in most of the Bulgarians.
At the regular parliamentary elections held on 26 June 2005 the Bulgarian Socialist Party offered a platform of broad social acquisitions and got 30,95 % of the vote. On 17 August 2005 it formed a coalition government of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, National Movement Simeon II and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, headed by the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party Sergei Stanishev.