Dark days for Bulgarian socialist leader Stanishev

Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Sergei Stanishev is finding himself facing reverses on a number of fronts, but the extent to which any of the damage is long-term remains to be seen.

In the past week, Stanishev’s rival Georgi Purvanov has mounted an open challenge with a plan for a rival list of socialist candidates in the European Parliament elections, and now has defied an ultimatum to back down. One of Stanishev’s MPs, Strahil Angelov, has embarrassed Stanishev as BSP and Party of European Socialists leader by defying Stanishev’s order not to undertake a trip to Syria as a guest of the Assad regime. And on January 22, the European Commission was due to release a report filled with scathing criticisms of Bulgaria’s performance in meeting EU justice and home affairs standards that the current BSP government would struggle to deflect – even though it telegraphed that it would try to spread the blame elsewhere.

On the Purvanov front, the BSP executive bureau issued a threat that unless Purvanov and those supporting him in the plan for an ABC movement European Parliament election list headed by former foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin backed down within a week, they would face expulsion (a threat redundant in the case of Kalfin, who is not a BSP member).

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