Georgi Purvanov’s ABC movement will field candidates separately from the Bulgarian Socialist Party in the country’s May 2014 European Parliament elections, Purvanov confirmed on January 14, while lashing out at the current leadership of the BSP.
At the same time, Purvanov said that “no one has the intention of leaving the BSP…we have rejected the possibility of forming a new party”.
Purvanov was leader of the BSP before that post went to Sergei Stanishev at the end of 2001 after Purvanov was elected Bulgaria’s president. After reaching the end of his two-term limit as head of state, Purvanov made a failed bid to get the party leadership back from his former protege.
Ahead of the May 2013 national parliamentary elections, Stanishev pushed out senior Purvanov loyalists from electable positions.
Since those elections, in which the BSP ran second but was handed a mandate to form a government after the largest party centre-right GERB was able to do so, the BSP government has been the target of widely-supported public protests demanding its resignation – while the Stanishev leadership has been the subject of regular sniping from the Purvanov camp.
There also have been reports of misgivings within the party about ruling axis partner the Movement for Rights and Freedoms holding the BSP in thrall and driving the governing agenda. Unlike the coalition government of 2005 to 2009 in which the BSP and MRF were two of three partners, the 2013 version has no formal coalition agreement.
Purvanov told the January 14 news conference that the current leadership of the BSP was carrying out decisions “made somewhere else”.
The BSP leadership found itself “under strong dependence,” Purvanov said.
“The decisions are made within a very narrow circle of initiates. They are not even members of the leadership of the party. The BSP leadership is under strong dependence – I say this firmly and clearly.
“Who is stretching a media umbrella over the chairperson of the BSP? The answer to this question will give the answer to the question – who made the unfortunate nomination for chairperson of the State Agency for National Security (SANS) last summer,” Purvanov said.
This was a reference to the nomination of Delyan Peevski, scion of a media-owning family, who was voted from the benches of the MRF, with the support of BSP and MRF votes, to become head of SANS. Amid public outrage, Peevski’s nomination was reversed but also marked the start of the anti-government protests that continue to this day.
Purvanov, who launched his ABC “civil movement” project while still head of state but saw it stall on the runway, told the news conference that he was obliged to explain why the project had been frozen and now was being unfrozen.
There had been many statements, he said, mostly from the BSP leadership that he had set up the project to weaken the BSP.
But in the years since ABC was founded, there were three different elections in which the BSP had been severely defeated.
“We lost the elections not because someone took away the party’s power but because of the weakness of the BSP leadership,” Purvanov said.
He said that the initiative would be the groundwork on which “we are going to build our policy for the next election. We will use a coalition of parties for the European elections,” Purvanov said, declining to disclose which parties these would be.
BSP leader Stanishev told a news conference a few hours after that of Purvanov that Kalfin’s decision was a “great disappointment” as well as “incorrect and immoral”.
“This decision will disappoint hundreds of thousands of socialists, who have been working on his campaigns over the years – to be a member of Parliament, as head of the elections ticket for the European Parliament elections, as a presidential candidate.
“This decision, which takes place at a moment that is important both for Bulgaria and for the BSP, is incorrect and immoral – not in terms of the policies of the BSP but rather in terms of the party’s members and supporters. We were faced with a fait accompli. It was against the BSP.
The nice words and intentions are not convincing because they aim to weaken the results of the BSP at the European elections, Stanishev said.
“This is actually changing teams in the 90th minute of the match.”
He said that the move served only the interests of GERB and its leader Borissov.
Earlier, BSP member of Parliament Anton Kutev said that what Purvanov was doing was “absolutely” to the advantage of GERB.
“He (Purvanov) is trying to split the BSP but he will fail,” Kutev said.
The actions of Purvanov and Kalfin – the MEP who on January 13 said that he was resigning as the head of the Bulgarian Socialist group in the European Parliament and is widely expected to head the ABC election ticket in the May 2014 European Parliament elections – were “treason” towards the BSP, Kutev said.
“The latest moves by Purvanov show that he is excluding himself from the BSP. ABC is a project of Purvanov, not Kalfin’s,” he said.