Bulgaria’s 2013 elections: Volen Siderov and the case of the missing leaders

Volen Siderov, leader of Bulgaria’s ultra-nationalist Ataka party, was pressed repeatedly on election night about his stance on future coalition negotiations with the leaders of the country’s major political parties – and asked “where are they?”.

Siderov was interviewed live on the public broadcaster, alone among Bulgarian political party leaders in being at the election centre in Sofia.

Exit polls showed four parties as entering Parliament: Boiko Borissov’s GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Ataka.

At 11.30pm, Borissov had not arrived at the Election Centre and nor had any other party leader, barring Siderov (socialist leader Sergei Stanishev arrived just before midnight, which Siderov was not to know at the time he was being interviewed). GERB campaign chief Tsvetan Tsvetanov had been there, but he left.

It was an unprecedented election night, Siderov said, with no political party leaders present except himself, and no news conferences being held.

Repeatedly, on being asked whether he was prepared to enter a coalition with GERB or the BSP, Siderov turned the question around, asking “where are they?”

Siderov predicted that the May 12 2013 elections, in which neither of the two major parties appeared to have emerged with a decisive victory, would result only in new nationwide street protests and fresh elections. When July came (the customary time for utility price adjustments), what would happen with electricity prices, he asked – against a background of electricity prices having been the catalyst for the early 2013 protests, and predictions that these prices would have to go up.

He was ready to talk, Siderov said, but warned that GERB had lost his confidence and could not be trusted.

In 2009, Siderov made no formal agreement to support GERB but in effect routinely did so, until Siderov and Borissov became politically estranged in 2010. “There cannot be a repeat of 2009. There is no way to have confidence in GERB,” said Siderov, who at the same time signalled that any party that wanted his co-operation in coalition would have to agree to the key 16 points in Ataka’s political programme.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via amazon.com, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.