chapter  6
35 Pages

Interwar Bulgaria

Populism, authoritarianism, and ethnic minorities
WithChristian Promitzer

By critical evaluation of domestic and international historiography on the interwar developments in Bulgaria this chapter probes Bulgaria’s entanglements in the interwar era as well as clashes involving both left-wing and right-wing movements of this country. Political events took place in a context which Bulgaria’s public, due to the defeat in World War One, would call a “national catastrophe.” The general mood was characterized by the collapse of the prewar optimism that had shaped Bulgarian nationalism until then.

The turmoil after the war also derailed the traditional party system and produced a swing to the left that brought the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union to power. However, because of its radical reforms and its intimidation of the bourgeois opposition, the Agrarian government in 1923 was toppled by a gory coup of right-wing conspirators.

In view of the existence of various formations of the radical right as well as various forms of right-wing authoritarian rule throughout the rest of the interwar period, the chapter furthermore focuses on the question whether one can speak of a Bulgarian brand of fascism.

As for the interconnected vessels of foreign policy and the treatment of domestic minorities, one has to keep in mind that the outcome of the war, instead of bringing about the realization of irredentist claims, brought the rather massive influx of Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia and the lost Aegean provinces, which in turn exacerbated the position of ethnic minorities, whereby the Greek and Turkish ones were particularly affected.