Those Sharks and Jets of socialist politics in Bulgaria, Sergei Stanishev’s Bulgarian Socialist Party and Georgi Purvanov’s ABC, remained at daggers drawn on the eve of the BSP national council to be held on February 1.
The BSP ultimatum to Purvanov and his cohorts to get in line and drop their rival political project having been dismissed by the ABC leader, Stanishev changed his tune and offered a parley – extending an invitation to Purvanov and his close political companion Roumen Petkov to attend the national council.
This national council is a prelude to the BSP national congress set for February 8, originally intended as a landmark for the party on the road to the May 2014 European Parliament elections, but all else has been drowned out by the discord over Purvanov.
On January 29, in what some media reports described as a “feeble” and “half-hearted” appeal, Stanishev – in a veiled reference to the drive in the BSP to expel Purvanov and his allies – said that “the BSP is not a firing squad” and Purvanov should come to the national council.
“We are extremely tolerant of criticism,” said Stanishev, two days before an event where, reportedly, the expulsion of Purvanov and his ABC people will be initiated.
Earlier, the Stanishev camp said that Purvanov and his supporters would be expelled at the national council, but Purvanov – who led the party before becoming head of state at the beginning of 2002 – said that the national council had no power to decide on expulsions from the party.
Stanishev said that Purvanov should “hear the voice of the party”, pointing to what he described as the negative reaction to the ABC development from the BSP structures across Bulgaria.
For Stanishev, Purvanov’s announcement of the revival of his rival project has had at least two unpleasant sequels, including some local structures signalling allegiance to Purvanov, while an Alpha Research poll showed Purvanov’s ABC grabbing a significant chunk of electoral support away from the BSP.
But Purvanov, speaking at a news conference on January 31, said, “I’m not someone who changes his mind from one day to the next, as my colleagues from 20 Positano Street (BSP headquarters) have done, coming up with six different positions in a week”.
Purvanov quoted the title of Italian film director Damiano Damiani’s 1972 film: “The case is closed, forget it”. (Notably, whether Purvanov was referring to the plot of the film is not known, given that story is about an innocent man imprisoned and who has to change his beliefs and his morals “in order to survive the brutal laws of the place”, in the words of a reviewer.)
Petkov told the news conference that he did not believe that the invitation from Stanishev, which had been described by the BSP leader as a “comradely call”, to attend the national council was sincere.
“On Monday, we were ‘self-excluded”…on Thursday they invited us. I can hardly make a prediction what thoughts will overtake the leadership on Saturday,” Petkov said.
Purvanov declined to comment further, saying that January 31 was a “day of reflection” for the BSP leadership on the issue of attempted expulsions.
(2008 archive photo of Stanishev and Purvanov: president.bg)