>A post-communist Costa in the making? Western expats enter local politics in Bulgaria


The excellent online Sofia Weekly newsletter reports that – post-EU enlargement a German, UK national are likely to run for municipal councils in the central Bulgarian town of Gabrovo on the ticket of the centrist populist/centre-right GERB party founded and unofficially led by Sofia mayor Boyko Borissov, which seems to be making the running in re-uniting the fractured Bulgarian centre-right. As ever local elections serve as a testing ground and laboratory for alliance-building that the CEE centre-right needs to do regularly and in spades. Given the vogue in Western Europe for buying holiday and retirement homes in Bulgaria and Romania – endlessly featured in how-to-a-buy-second-home-and-escape-to-the-sun programmes on TV in the UK – I begin to wonder whether in 10-20 years these countries will develop the same large pockets of expat West and North Europeans as France, Portugal or Spain. Given their EU voting rights in local elections UK and Dutch voters are already a significant voting bloc in local politics on the Costa del Sol, with their ‘community leaders’ sought after as another element in clientelistically-assembled local political alliances. There is, I believe, already some pretty serious sociological research on the expat British minority in Spain undertaken by social geographers, but as far as I am aware nothing by political scientists.

Meanwhile back in Gabrovo, the German reportedly owns a furniture factory in the picturesque mountain town, while the Briton has bought a house in the are. Polls suggest GERB will do well in the October local elections


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