A man stands on a rooftop below a handmade electrical grid hanging over a Roma village, as people turn up to vote in October's Parliamentary elections in the nation's capital, Sofia. Today, October 5th, 2014, is also Midterm Elections day in the States - its multi-party ticket an unimaginable reality in autocratic Bulgaria pre-1989. Despite a month-long vacillation on the make-up of their political coalitions and their new prime minister - and that only 49% of the population turned up to vote today - party leaders narrowly avoided reelections, with former prime minister and leader of center-right party GERB Boyko Borisov reinstated at the post.
The story of democracy in Bulgaria at age 25 is a cautionary tale about transplanting one-size-fits-all Western values to a nation still undergoing social and economic upheaval. Bulgaria is still one of the poorest, most corrupt nations in the European Union, its post-1989 hopes wilted by political instability, high crime rates and skyrocketing inflation. While Bulgarians can now freely vote and protest without much threat to their freedom, their new oppressor is corruption - which is at a 15 year high, across political and civil sectors alike. The ennui is so casually etched on the passerby's face that it becomes routine - one that fits in sadly well against a startling backdrop of rotting architecture, joblessness, and a vast population decline. Despite what democracy has changed in Bulgaria, the daily struggles of its populace remain largely untouched, trapped in a post-communist time capsule.