Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Djankov resigned Monday after mass demonstrations against the government’s austerity policy.
Tens of thousands of people protested Sunday at high electricity prices and low incomes, blaming the government’s austerity measures for the low living standards in the poorest EU country.
They also demanded the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Bulgarians joined the European Union in 2007 expecting a swift improvement in their standard of living. However, it remains the bloc’s poorest state, with an average monthly wage of just over 500 dollars.
While Djankov’s strict fiscal policies – which kept the budget deficit at 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012, down from 2 per cent in 2011 – are unpopular at home, they were approved by major European partners.
He will be replaced by Tomislav Donchev, presently the minister in charge of EU funds.
Borisov’s government took office in 2009, promising to raise incomes to central European levels and fight corruption.
Parliamentary elections are due later this year. According to recent opinion polls, Borisov’s conservative GERB party trails the opposition Socialists, who were swept from power four years ago.