The strange saga of Ataka’s visit to Brussels

According to a new poll by the Afis agency, Bulgaria’s most unpopular politician is Volen Siderov, leader of ultra-nationalist party Ataka. He does not seem to be that popular in Brussels either.

The absence of Ataka from Parliament was key to the debacle around the no-confidence vote, as former centre-right ruling party GERB added its own absence in a bid to demonstrate what it described as the dependence of the Bulgarian Socialist Party on Siderov’s ultra-nationalists.

Ataka was away because, reportedly, its entire parliamentary group – it has 23 out of 240 seats in Bulgaria’s 42nd National Assembly – was in Brussels, for reasons about which reports, claims and allegations vary.

Some unconfirmed media reports had it that Siderov had led his MPs to Brussels for talks with like-minded politicians from elsewhere in Europe to discuss plans for the European Parliament elections in 2014. Other reports, emanating from Ataka itself, said that the ultra-nationalists went there to demand an apology from European People’s Party MEP Doris Pack for calling Ataka xenophobic and anti-European. Still others suggested that Ataka simply had come up with the trip as an excuse to be away from Parliament and thus to prevent any chance of GERB’s motion of no confidence in the BSP government being approved.

According to a report on the Euractiv website, the Ataka odyssey in Brussels seemed to have been a wild goose chase.

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