Postelection processes within parties bring about changes in political life in Bulgaria


While analyses of the results of the 26 May elections for European Parliament in Bulgaria continue there is one thing that seems clear enough – that the principal players in them are embarking on serious transformations.

The changes within GERB party announced by its leader Boyko Borissov are yet to unfold fully. With the withdrawal of Tsvetan Tsvetanov, until recently seen as the second most powerful figure in the ruling party, reshuffles inside the party structures seem an inevitability, but also inside its parliamentary group and even in the cabinet. Foremost sociologists say that even though GERB won the election, Borissov will not be able to hold his positions without a cabinet reshuffle or without redistributing key party posts.

Changes are also looming for GERB’s coalition partner – the United Patriots. Relations among the three formations that make up this coalition – the VMRO, Ataka and the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB)– were strained even before the elections, but now the VMRO makes no secret of the fact that it not only wants these relations clarified, but that its agenda now includes the question which parties form the coalition and even the existence of the coalition as such. And goes on to add that the three formations could sign separate agreements with GERB. And that there is one other option – to cut the coalition down to the two-party format – the Patriotic Front – in which two of the three parties, the VMRO and the NFSB, took part in the previous parliament. Both options will entail the respective changes in the acting coalition agreement between GERB and the United Patriots. An agreement that sets down the structure of the ruling coalition within the executive and the legislative branches, but also the decision-making process. Whether full or partial, the disintegration of the United Patriots will mean transformations within its parliamentary group. The votes of this group as it now stands, together with GERB’s votes /27+95/ give the ruling coalition just one vote over the minimum of votes needed for an absolute majority /121/.

This new state of affairs within the ruling coalition after the elections affords the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) an opportunity to revert to a role it is very familiar with from past years – that of a party on which the balance in the political life of Bulgaria hangs. Just like GERB, DPS does not want early general elections either, what it does want, as a high-ranking DPS functionary said for the BNR, is a government of experts within the term of office of the current national assembly.

Unlike the DPS, Democratic Bulgaria, a coalition not represented in the national parliament, which came fifth in the EP elections and lays claim to being a natural centre of gravity for the democratic community in the country, is predicting early elections within months. For the local election this coming autumn, they will be looking for political partnerships locally. 

The Union of Democratic forces (SDS) is also getting ready for the local elections, and again in coalition with GERB. If the SDS and Democratic Bulgaria had stood for the EP elections as a coalition and not separately, the classical right area of the political spectrum in Bulgaria could have earned two or three seats in the new European Parliament.  Yet it is evident that in the time left until the local elections in the autumn no such union can be attained.

Faced with an extraordinary congress in mid-June, convened to elect a new leadership, the Bulgarian Socialist Party is, for the time being, focusing on its own internal problems. The BSP’s leader, Kornelia Ninova, who handed in her resignation, says that what Bulgarians are saying with their vote to all parties is: We do not like you in equal measure. What will matter more, however, is what the conclusions and the orientation of the BSP will be after a new party leadership is elected. Analysts close to the party are saying that it has to resolve its internal problems, but that it must also resume the dialogue with the other political forces because it cannot continue existing in isolation or in one-against-all mode.

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