In the latest twist in the battle between rival factions in the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Ivailo Kalfin has resigned as head of the Bulgarian Socialists in the European Parliament.
The drama in the BSP is unfolding ahead of Bulgaria’s May 25 2014 European Parliament elections and against a background of rivalry between party leader Sergei Stanishev and former BSP leader Georgi Purvanov, to whom Kalfin is a close ally.
Kalfin’s letter announcing his resignation to Stanishev came after reports that Purvanov was putting an alternative list of socialist election candidates for the European Parliament elections, with Kalfin named as a likely list leader.
Stanishev, also head of the EU-wide Party of European Socialist, has come under increasingly public attacks from the Purvanov faction, not only for the way in which the affairs of the embattled BSP government are being handled but also for the silence on the part of the BSP leadership on the Volen Siderov incident on January 6 at Varna Airport.
In his letter, made public on his website, Kalfin specifically attacked the workings of the governing coalition, saying that “to me, the compromises made in the coalitional and appointment policies of the BSP have gone beyond the limits of admissibility.
“Obviously, my publicly expressed arguments about transparency, coalitional agreement, transparent government of the country, principle approach towards the Ataka party and for avoiding the Elections Code being adopted right before the elections, did not meet with understanding and did not even incite a debate within the party,” Kalfin said.
The lack of clear positions and arguments on these and other issues was not leading to an increase in support for the government and the popularity of the left wing, he said.
Kalfin said that he was faced by an absurd choice between ideas and the party leadership, which had proved increasingly incompatible.
“That is why I do not think that I can be an efficient leader of the delegation of the Bulgarian socialists in the EP,” said Kalfin, who however will remain a member of the Bulgarian Socialist delegation and a member of the Parliamentary Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
Kalfin was foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the BSP-led tripartite coalition in which Stanishev was prime minister from 2005 to 2009 and ran second in the national presidential elections in 2011. His background is as a social democrat and he is not a BSP member.
At the weekend, Tatyana Donchev, a BSP veteran who allowed her party membership to lapse and formed a “Movement 21” said that the emergence of an alternative list was evidence of the infighting in the BSP.
Iliyana Yoteva, a BSP MEP, told local media that she did not think that the making of a parallel election candidate list “will be good for the BSP”.
But she did not think the alternative list and the re-emergence of Purvanov’s ABC movement would split the party. “I do not believe huge masses will quit the BSP and flow into other formations,” Yotova said.
Of the alternative list, she said, “I do not want to think that all this is simply aimed at ruining the party or ousting its current leadership”.
“Every single vote is important for the BSP and if this move is targeting a battle with the leader of the party, then it is a very selfish idea,” Yotova said.
Boiko Borissov, the former prime minister who leads centre-right opposition party GERB, said that this was the first time he heard of a political party taking part in elections with two differerent election lists and calling it a “solution” and not “splitting”.
(Photo of Kalfin: bsp.bg)