In a fiery and emotional speech at the first sitting of the 42nd National Assembly, ultra-nationalist Ataka leader Volen Siderov sought to portray his party’s role as the eyes and ears of ordinary Bulgarians, distanced from the two big political forces, GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
Not only was there Siderov’s histrionic rhetoric, there were symbolic gestures too. Ataka’s MPs stood for the playing of the Bulgarian national anthem but remained sitting for the European Union’s anthem.
Later, as presiding officers were being elected, Ataka walked out.
Siderov’s party placed fourth in the May 12 elections.
In the 240-seat National Assembly, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms together have 120 seats. Boiko Borissov’s party GERB got the largest share of seats, 97, and Ataka have the rest, but Siderov – estranged politically from Borissov in the previous parliament – emphasised ahead of the first sitting he would make no deal with GERB.
Speaking in Parliament on May 21, Siderov said that Ataka would support no government, would not vote in the election of a Speaker and would not seek the election, from among its number, of a Deputy Speaker.
He told GERB and the BSP: “We will be your nightmare”.
Siderov said that he saw collusion between GERB and the BSP, interpreting earlier remarks by Borissov stating conditional support for socialist prime minister nominee Plamen Oresharski as such.
GERB intends trying to form a government, but it is inevitable that this will be rejected in Parliament. The socialists intend following up that stage with a “programme government” headed by former finance minister Oresharski.
Ataka would be the check in Parliament against the other parties for “those humiliated and insulted people who took to the streets,” Siderov said, in a reference to the cost-of-living and anti-monopoly nationwide protests of early 2013.
“I will not defend lobbying circles, as did GERB. We are the exception in Bulgarian politics. We are the authentic party in this Parliament,” said Siderov, portraying the parties as – among other things – agents of foreign interests.
Turning to the foreign diplomats assembled in the public gallery to watch proceedings, Siderov made an emotional call for them to see how Bulgarians lived in misery on what he called the lowest incomes in Europe, while subjected to foreign exploitation.
Bulgaria, Siderov said, was the “fifth world” with incomes lower than in African countries.
Sweeping his hand towards the benches occupied by GERB and the Cabinet seats where the members of the caretaker administration headed by Prime Minister Marin Raykov were sitting, Siderov said, “for me, this part of the hall here, with all these people from the service, the so-called cabinet headed by the person Raykov, are from now on objects for prosecution and investigation, nothing more”.
Siderov said that MPs salaries should be cut to minimum wage, although he also repeated his call to be raised to 1000 leva.
Siderov also repeated his call for pensions to be drastically increased. “Nothing is more important. Unless you start to raise people’s incomes, there will be protests”.
He said that Ataka would not work with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which he described as an “unconstitutional party” – a reference to its being led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent.
After Siderov’s speech ended, MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan rose to object, saying that the Constitutional Court had found his party not to be unconstitutional.