The Bulgarian Socialist Party national council has “withdrawn political trust” in Georgi Purvanov and prominent members of his rival faction and denied them the possibility of holding party posts or appearing on party election lists for a year, the BSP said on February 1 2014.
The measure is less than the expulsion of Purvanov and his camp threatened by those loyal to BSP leader Sergei Stanishev in the days since Purvanov announced the revival of his alternative ABC movement and its intention to put up a rival list of candidates in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
Purvanov, a former BSP leader whose revival of his ABC movement has been widely seen as a second bid to get back the leadership of the party from his former protege Stanishev, already has responded to threats of expulsion by saying that the national council did not have the power to decide this.
Those subject to the sanction decided by the national council include Purvanov, his close political companion Roumen Petkov and a number of others who have been prominent recently in the ABC project – Anatolii Mladenov, Boyka Arabadzhieva, Vladimir Kalchev, Dilyan Enkin, Evgeni Zhelev, Emil Konstantinov, Krum Mitiliev, Lyudmil Vesselinov, Rositsa Yanakieva, Svetlin Nikolov and Trifon Mitev.
The motion to sanction the Purvanov group was passed overwhelmingly but not unanimously – 125 in favour, three against and two abstentions.
Stanishev has claimed that all local structures of the party remain loyal to the mainstream BSP but reports have indicated that structures in traditional strongholds of the party have switched allegiance to Purvanov.
Damagingly for Stanishev, an Alpha Research poll soon after the revival of the ABC project showed that a notable proportion of the socialist electorate would prefer to support Purvanov’s project, decisively putting the BSP into second place among Bulgaria’s major political parties.
But Stanishev told the February 1 national council meeting that Purvanov’s movement would not amount to anything significant in the elections and would serve only the electoral chances of Bulgaria’s and Europe’s centre-right parties.
Ahead of the national council meeting, the BSP Sofia condemned the Purvanov project, saying that support for a competing list was politically incompatible with membership of the BSP.
The Sofia BSP said that the Purvanov initiative could rob the BSP of electoral victory in the European Parliament elections, jeopardise the stability of the parliamentary majority and of the government.
The BSP in the capital city nominated Stanishev to head the party list for the European Parliament elections.
BSP Sofia leader Kaloyan Pargov told reporters that “withdrawing political trust” meant “much more” than suspending the membership of Purvanov and his group.
Outside the national council meeting, a small group of anti-government protesters jeered the BSP and chanted calls for the government’s resignation, while also expressing indignation that the BSP was holding the meeting on the same day set aside for Bulgaria to mourn the victims of communist repression.
In a Facebook post reacting to the announcement that the BSP had withdrawn its trust in it, Purvanov’s ABC said that it had long since withdrawn its trust in the BSP leadership.
(Photo of Stanishev: bsp.bg)