Bulgaria’s recent political settlement following five consecutive snap elections ended the political deadlock with the establishment of a government led by two rotating Prime Ministers. Nikolay Denkov of the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (PP-DB) coalition will serve as the Prime Minister the first nine months, followed by former European Commissioner for Innovation of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) Maria Gabriel.

Bulgaria has been undergoing a period of political instability, with five electoral cycles in the last two years. During this period, corruption has become a highly politicised topic. Efforts to curb it are now one of the most important campaign issues. 

In addition, Bulgaria has the second highest levels of perceived corruption among EU member states according to Transparency International's 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The Working Paper presents the results of a nationwide survey of 1,209 individuals in Bulgaria, conducted in February to early March 2023.

The survey examined how corruption is perceived in Bulgaria by different types of respondent, and what kind of behaviour is considered acceptable.

It also looked at respondents’ perceptions of anti-corruption efforts and under which circumstances they would be more likely to report corruption to the authorities.

From 15–19 May 2023, our International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) training team was at the National Institute of Justice in Sofia, Bulgaria to deliver our flagship training on Financial Investigations and Asset Recovery. The training is a crucial element of our collaboration with the Bulgarian government to assist in combatting corruption and recovering stolen public funds.

The passing of a Whistleblower Protection Act in Bulgaria on 27 January 2023 was a major step forward for the country’s anti-corruption efforts. The law, which will take full effect on 17 December 2023, finally brings Bulgaria into line with the EU’s 2019 Whistleblowing Protection Directive. Now come the bigger steps: implementing it effectively and informing the public of both its provisions and its importance as an anti-corruption tool.

In a speech at the Anti-Corruption and National Security policy forum in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Basel Institute's President Peter Maurer commended how the Summit for Democracy is finally putting corruption at the centre of the debate about global peace and stability. He called on leaders in government, civil society and the private sector to work together to turn their commitments into action.

The second Summit for Democracy on 29–30 March 2023 will shine a spotlight on corruption as a threat to democracy, peace and security. And in the context of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the security implications of state capture and strategic corruption will no doubt be at centre stage.

An initiative of US President Biden, the Summit seeks both high-level commitments and ground-level actions to advance democracy, fight corruption and counter authoritarianism.

In the context of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme, and building on ICAR’s previous operational engagements in Bulgaria in support of the country’s efforts to tackle corruption, ICAR is partnering with the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria (PORB) to offer technical assistance and guidance in financial investigations and asset recovery.