Third Bulgarian State (1878–1923)
The Treaty of San Stefano was signed on March 3, 1878 by Russia and the Ottoman Empire and set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality on the territories of the Second Bulgarian Empire. It never went into effect, as the Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty out of fear that such a large country in the Balkans might threaten their interests. It was superseded by the subsequent Treaty of Berlin, signed on July 13, provided for a much smaller state comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia, leaving large populations of Bulgarians outside the new country. This played a significant role in forming Bulgaria's militaristic approach to foreign affairs during the first half of the 20th century.
The Bulgarian principality won a war against Serbia and incorporated the semi-autonomous Ottoman territory of Eastern Rumelia in 1885. Bulgaria proclaiming itself an independent state on October 5, 1908. In the years following independence, Bulgaria increasingly militarized and was often referred to as "the Balkan Prussia". The following years saw several conflicts with its neighbors, which prompted Bulgaria to align with the German Empire in World War I.
Despite fielding more than a quarter of its population in a 1,200,000-strong army and achieving several decisive victories against Serbia and Romania, the country capitulated in 1918. Bulgarian defeat in the war caused revolts arising around the country. Bulgaria was declared a republic on September 27, 1918, causing Aleksandar Stamboliyski, the leader of Agrarian Union, to be arrested despite not authorizes the rebellion itself. Although the rebellion is failed, however, Stamboliyski was able to escape the fate of imprisonment and went into hiding.In September 1918, Tsar Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son Boris III in order to head off anti-monarchic revolutionary tendencies. Following the 1919 election, Stamboliyski came out of hiding and became the prime minister of the new coalition cabinet. Elections in March 1920 gave the Agrarians a large majority, making Stamboliyski able to form Bulgaria's first peasant government. The new government immediately faced pressures from the political left and right, a harsh international occupation force, a debt amounting to a “preposterous sum”, as well as national problems such as food shortages, general strikes, and a great flu epidemic.
In March 1923, Stamboliyski signed an agreement with Serbia recognizing the new border and agreeing to suppress the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO), which favored war to regain Macedonia from Serbia. As a result, the VMRO organized a coup against Stamboliyski's government on June 9, 1923. Stamboliyski escaped to his hometown as the army garrisons under the command of General Damyan Velchev occupied strategic points in Sofia. The Communists joined with the Agrarians in a nation-wide counter-coup. On June 30, 1923, the joint Agrarian-Communist forces entered Sofia and declared a new republican government. Following the declaration, Tsar Boris III fled to Turkey, and then to Britain, where he would live out the rest of his days in exile.
Republic of Bulgaria (1923–present)
Interwar years (1923–39)Stamboliyski was elected as the republic's first prime minister on July 4, 1923 in a leftist coalition government. Moderate conservatives then formed the National Party under Andrey Lyapchev on August 23, 1923. On October 7, 1923, the Comintern ordered the Bulgarian Communists to overthrow the Agrarian-led coalition, resulted to a second coup against Stamboliyski. Realizing his position, Stamboliyski asked Lyapchev and the conservatives to join a new coalition government. Lyapchev accepted Stamboliyski's offer and was appointed as Minister of War. Stamboliyski also appointed, with Lyapchev's suggestion, Vladimir Vazov, Bulgarian World War I hero as the commander-in-chief of Bulgarian Army to suppress the rebellion.
After defeated the Communists, in February 1924, the Agrarians won a slim majority in the Constituent Assembly election. The 1924 Bulgarian Constitution was adopted on June 25, 1924, establishing a semi-presidential system of government modeled after Weimar Germany. Vladimir Vazov was elected President of Bulgaria almost unanimously as a compromise between the conservatives and the agrarians. Despite coming from a military background, Vazov had proved to commit himself in building a secular, democratic Bulgaria.
During Vazov's presidency, Bulgaria underwent a series of social and economic reforms in the 1920s. Universal suffrage was adopted in 1927, making Bulgaria the first nation in Southeastern Europe to do so. However, this political stability was abruptly disrupted by the Great Depression. The assassination of Aleksandar Stamboliyski in 1932, as well as the uprisings by the VMRO in 1933 and 1934, forced Vazov to use his emergency powers by forming presidential governments in the period of 1930s where the cabinets directly responsible to the President, rather than to the Parliament.
During this period, Bulgaria remained to have strong pro-Russian sentiment among its populace. Although still officially banned the Bulgarian Communist Party, the conservative government under Andrey Lyapchev attempted to develop friendly relations with the Soviet Union in 1930. After Lyapchev's death in 1931, this effort was continued by his successors, Nikola Mushanov and Rayko Daskalov, from the conservatives and the agrarians respectively. In 1935, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact and established a close economic and military cooperation between two countries. With the aid of the USSR, Bulgaria secretly developed its military in the late 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine.