A third round of anti-government protests, calls within the Bulgarian Socialist Party for new leadership, the summoning of a special meeting of one of Bulgaria’s main business associations and a demand by Ataka that no further appointments be made to powerful positions from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – all of these were among the fallout on June 16 from the government’s Delyan Peevski debacle.
In Sofia and other major cities and towns, Sunday evening saw crowds of several thousands gather again in the latest in a series of what began as protests against the naming of controversial MRF figure Peevski and now have transformed into demands for the government as a whole to step down.
Within the Bulgarian Socialist Party, a number of voices have emerged to call for the resignation of party leader Sergei Stanishev over what the Vitosha regional branch of the party in Sofia called the “politically inappropriate” handling of the Peevski affair.
Roumen Petkov, who after the May 12 elections already had said that Stanishev had demonstrated his mastery at losing elections, said on June 14, 15 and 16 that Stanishev should resign.
Petkov, the first of two interior ministers in Stanishev’s cabinet before having to step down amid a controversy and also a loyalist to Georgi Purvanov, failed 2012 challenger to the leadership, said that it had been a “serious blunder” to rush ahead with appointing Peevski without co-ordinating the move with Bulgaria’s foreign partners.
Georgi Kadiev, an MP and formerly repeatedly a failed socialist candidate for mayor of Sofia, said that the resignation of the current leadership of the BSP would avert a repeat of the Peevski case.
A few voices came to the defence publicly of Stanishev, who let it be known on June 15 that he did not intend resigning.
Socialist MP Atanas Merdzhanov said that now was not the time for the BSP leadership to resign, because there was too much to be done.
Stanishev loyalist Anton Koutev said that there were no grounds for Stanishev to step down, and implicitly blamed the mess on Plamen Oresharski. When the BSP formed a government in May, Oresharski was placed in the prime minister’s chair and it was he – by virtue of his office and the changed law – who tabled Peevski’s nomination in Parliament.
On June 16, the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria – one of the business bodies that recently was in dialogue with Oresharski about the new government’s plans for the country – said that it was calling a special meeting for June 19 to discuss the current crisis in Bulgaria and the confederation’s response.
Ataka leader Volen Siderov, whose vote provided the quorum on the day that Parliament was asked to vote the Oresharski administration into power, said that he would be requesting a meeting with Oresharski to demand that appointments from the MRF to positions of power be stopped.
The MRF, which holds the votes in Parliament that keep the government in power, has a few cabinet ministers, some regional governors and some deputy ministers; the appointment of a party spokesperson as deputy minister of culture has excited scornful comment on social networks by Bulgarians.
Oresharski said on June 16 that he had invited “representatives of the protesters” as well as the about 20 NGOs that signed a petition against Peevski’s appointment, to a meeting at his office the following day. The purpose was to “continue the constructive dialogue we began last week,” the statement quoted Oresharski as saying. At a meeting on June 14 between Oresharski and representatives of protesters, some walked out in protest against Peevski’s appointment.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)