Politics in a Democracy Under Stress

Summer School


  • June 11 - 18, 2023   


  • American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad Campus   

Participation Fee

  • $1,000   

About Bulgaria Exchange

The 1st Bulgaria Exchange is organized by the Center for Information, Democracy, and Citizenship (CIDC) at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) in cooperation with the Democracy and Governance Program (DG) at Georgetown University (GU). The aim of this week-long exchange is to promote a discussion on the current challenges to democratic governments by looking at Bulgaria, a democracy under stress.  Bulgaria, a country that transitioned from its communist past to a democratic state, is an interesting case study for several reasons. It was a Warsaw Pact member but is now a NATO and EU member, aspiring to join the eurozone and Schengen. Yet this success partially obscures existing problems such as clientelistic networks that permeate portions of the political and economic elites and significant pro-Russian elements within the public. These and other factors mean that Bulgaria is fertile ground for malign foreign influence across all domains (politics, economics, social and foreign relations), internal and cross-border corruption, favoritism and nepotism, and a stalemated politics that has seen the country go the polls five times in the last three years.

By introducing international participants to representatives from academia, civil society, and the public and private sectors in Bulgaria, we hope to (1) raise awareness about some of the key challenges to young democracies in Eastern Europe through the case study of Bulgaria within the Balkan region; (2) foster dialogue between participants; and (3) enable better understanding about threats and challenges to Bulgarian democracy and highlight existing resilience efforts to strengthen these.

Who Should Register?

The Bulgaria Exchange is open to a diverse array of participants. We specifically invite the following:

  • Foreign diplomats and civil servants
  • Civil society practitioners
  • Researchers, analysts and journalists
  • Academics (scholars and students) working on or interested in the region


The Bulgaria Exchange will look at the main trends in Bulgaria’s democratic development over the last 30 years, as well as provide an overview of key problems facing a young democracy. We will also see possible solutions by exploring success stories and lessons learnt from Bulgaria’s democratic progress.

The Bulgaria Exchange will aim to take the participants on a journey through some of the main pillars of a democratic society (free and fair elections, active participation in society, human rights, and rule of law). Participants will attend discussions and workshops delivered by prominent academics, policy analysts, civil society representatives, and public and private sector leaders from Bulgaria. Additionally, over the five days, we will provide a taste of Bulgaria.

Participation Fee

The program fee is $1000 per participant, and it covers:

  • programming
  • local transportation
  • accommodation
  • meals