“Fighting corruption has to be a collective effort. No single stakeholder can do it alone. Government cannot do it alone, or the public administration. If only citizens are left to fight corruption, they will struggle. And the private sector likewise.”
– Gretta Fenner, Managing Director, Basel Institute on Governance

This report analyses the top corruption and anti-corruption narratives in Bulgarian online and social media from 2021–2022. On the basis of this analysis, it draws conclusions on:

  • Media ownership transparency
  • Media funding transparency
  • Smart support for civil society
  • Amplifying the impact of fact-checking organisations
  • Proactive information campaigns

It was produced in collaboration with Sensika, a global media monitoring and analytics firm, in support of the Basel Institute's ongoing programme of work in Bulgaria.

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A high-level forum in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on 10 October 2023 will focus on Bulgaria’s efforts to strengthen integrity, transparency, accountability and open government through Collective Action and the active participation of the business sector.

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.