20 Feb 2013

Bulgaria's govt resigns after national protests

9:38 pm on 20 February 2013

Bulgaria's government has resigned en masse after nationwide protests against high electricity prices, joining a long list of European administrations felled by austerity.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov had tried to calm protests by sacking his finance minister, pledging to cut power prices and punish foreign-owned companies, but the measures failed to defuse discontent and protests continued on Tuesday.

In the latest demonstrations, 25 people were taken to hospital after protesters clashed with police.

Many Bulgarians are deeply unhappy over high energy costs, power monopolies, low living standards and corruption in the European Union's poorest country, Reuters reports.

"I will not participate in a government under which police are beating people," Mr Borisov said as he announced his resignation on Wednesday.

The premier did not say if a parliamentary election scheduled for July would be brought forward.

Mr Borisov has said the electricity distribution licence of central Europe's largest listed company, Czech-based CEZ will be revoked, setting Bulgaria on a collision course with its European Union partner the Czech Republic.