Currently the Bulgarian government is formed by a coalition of three parties – BSP, NDSV and DPS. On the street the nicknames of their leaders are the Russian, the Spanish and the Turk. BSP is the socialist party, which spawned from the communist party after the fall of communism. It’s leader and bulgarian prime minister is Sergey Stanishev, who is half russian and has received his high education on Moskow. The second party is the so called „Tzar party“. It’s leader is the former bulgarian Tzar Simeon II, who was banished at the age of six by the communist regime and lived most of his life in exile in Spain. The last coalition partner is a presumably non-ethic party, but most bulgarians would agree that DPS and it’s leader Ahmed Dogan count mostly on the turkish minority in the country.
BSP (Bulgarian Socialist Party) is an old party and has always had a strong grip on the left side of the politics. While there has been a lot of splitting and fighting in the right wing, BSP has managed to keep stable. Due to historic reasons, a great part of the elderly population form their strong voter core. In the last few years however, they have managed to present an attractive new image for the young and have gathered considerable support in the last elections. The president of Bulgaria - Georgi Parvanov was also a member of BSP. Voter support - 20.3%
NDSV (National Movement for Stability and Prosperity; formally known as National Movement “Simeon the Second”) is considered centrist and is a typical example of a party-spark. In Bulgaria it is very typical to vote against the party you dislike and not for the ideas and morals of another. In 2001, Simeon Sakskoburggotski came back from exile and many saw great hope in him. Thus his party gathered wide support and he managed to form a cabinet. However after a while NDSV lost all that support and their ratings plunged. In the 2005 parliament elections they were second after BSP and since then have barely made the 4% margin. Voter support - 1.4%
DPS (Movement for Rights and Liberty) is a party with predominantly turkish members. Their stronghold is the south-east region, which is close to the turkish border. On every election there is a scandal related to the so called election tourism – large groups of turkish citizens that also have a Bulgarian passport (something illegal, but hard to prove due to the lack of cooperation from the turkish government) come in Bulgaria for a day just to cast their vote for DPS. Due to the fact that it’s perpetual participation in the government, that trend has not been stopped. Although the life in many of the villages and towns in which DPS has a strong influence has improved a lot, the name of that party is often involved in corruption scandals. In 2005, Ahmed Dogan openly stated that they benefit from a circle of firms and depend on their grace. Like BSP, they are very good in PR and are trying to disprove the common image of an ethnic party. It is a public secret that in the ministries and town halls controlled by DPS, the official language is turkish. There have also been reports that their activists are trying to break the ethic peace in some regions. Voter support - 7.9%
Alternatives to these parties are those on the right, which in the past 8 years have been in opposition and mostly arguing with each other. In the past year and a half, a new party declaring itself as right was formed - GERB (Citizens for the European Future of Bulgaria). It’s leader is Boyko Borisov – fireman by education and ex-bodyguard of the former communist leader Todor Jivkov. In the government of NDSV, he was the secretary of the internal ministry (the highest position after the minister) and since then has been one of the top three most approved politicians in Bulgaria. That popularity earned him a lot of support and he is currently the mayor of the nearly 1.5 million capital Sofia. Many believe that GERB will form the next parliament and win the EU elections, but there are those who point out that questionable business relations of it’s leader in the past may be an indication that he will bring even more corruption in the government. Voter support - 24.1%.
Another right wing party is DSB (Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria) with its leader Ivan Kostov. Kostov became a prime minister from the party SDS between 1997 and 2001 after the violent riots in ‘97 caused by an economic collapse and which brought down the former socialist government. Although he managed to stabilize the country and start the recovery process, he lost most of his popularity due to the numerous corruption scandals in his own cabinet. After he lost the 2001 elections, he dropped out of the radar for a few years and then formed a new party – DSB. Voter support - 1.9%
SDS (Union of the Democratic Forces), which many relate to Kostov’s past, comes fifth in the popularity pools. It’s current leader is Martin Dimitrov, who is also a member of parliament and is one of the few that has a personal blog. They have signed an agreement with DSB to run together in the EU and parliament elections. Voter support - 2.8%
Unfortunately, the second most famous right wing party is Ataka (Attack in Bulgarian). It defines itself as a nationalist party, whose main goal is to fight against the influence of DPS and non-bulgarian minorities. Since all governments in the past 20 years seem to ignore issues that many citizens have with how DPS does business, Ataka received a sudden and unexpected support. It is believed that people see in them not a trustworthy leaders, but rather an opposition to DPS that will somehow even out the odds. Many more however are worried that such a blind support puts executive power in the hands of an equally dangerous elements, instead of balancing it. Voter support - 6.2%
As most bulgarians don’t make much difference between the european and bulgarian parliament elections, it is expected that the balance of power will be almost the same. The only known election coalition is that between SDS and DSB. Another possible election coalition may be formed between BSP and DPS. There are indications that NDSV don’t want to run together with DPS, but may have to since otherwise they will not be able to get any seats in the parliament. GERB has declared that they want to run alone no matter what. There are many speculation in the media that they and BSP may run together, but GERB has denounced that repeatedly. Because of it’s radical views, no one wishes to run together with Ataka. It is very probable that the numerous small parties will join the formed coalitions in the last few weeks in attempt to gain seats or at least part of the election funds.
The voter support percentages are based on statistics from the beginning of 2009 and show how much of the registered voters will give their support for each party.
To see my prediction of the election results, you can check my next article. Don’t forget to vote!