For the first time, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev has admitted in public that after the party’s defeat in the May 25 European Parliament elections, “we realised that the cabinet could hardly complete its full term”.
Stanishev was addressing a special national council meeting of the BSP, at which he called for the resignation of the cabinet as soon as possible – ironically, after the National Assembly votes to reject opposition party GERB’s fifth and latest motion of no confidence in the cabinet – and for early parliamentary elections to be held at the end of July.
This date is significantly earlier than that suggested by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, from May 2013 to now the BSP’s partner in the ruling axis, which suggested late November or early December. Early on June 10, GERB deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that elections should be held by the end of September.
Stanishev also spoke of his surprise at the move by MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan in making the call for early elections, a few days after the outcome of the European Parliament elections.
Stanishev, speaking in sombre tones – from within his own party, there have been calls for either him or the entire party leadership to resign in the light of the latest electoral defeat – said that he had not expected the MRF to “pass sentence” on the cabinet.
In the May 2013 early parliamentary elections, GERB won the most votes, the BSP ran second and the MRF third. But GERB had no allies with which to form a coalition to continue in government, and so the mandate to govern passed to the BSP. With the MRF and the tacit support of far-right ultra-nationalists Ataka, the BSP named a cabinet in which Plamen Oresharski was placed in the prime minister’s chair.
Clearly irked at the MRF’s manoeuvre, Stanishev told the June 10 BSP national council meeting, “Let us remember the face of the arrogant authoritarian government (by which Stanishev meant Boiko Borissov’s 2009/13 GERB government) which we had the power and courage to stop.
“This was enough to dare to assume responsibility for the establishment of a new government. We should remember where we come from and where we are heading,” Stanishev said.
Now, he said, the BSP could not bear on its own the sole responsibility for the state, given the lack of political support and parliamentary instability.
This meant that the “correct and responsible action” was for the government to resign.
Elections should be immediate, Stanishev said, naming the end of July as a “possible and realistic option”.
Stanishev, repeating one of the BSP apologia for its electoral defeat, said that this was the first time that the party had had to fight a campaign on two fronts. This was a reference to ABC, led by Georgi Purvanov, leader of the BSP more than a decade ago who made a failed attempt to get the party leadership back after serving two terms as Bulgaria’s head of state.
With Oresharski present at the meeting, Stanishev said that neither the cabinet ministers nor the prime minister deserved to have to bear the full responsibility for the state given the lack of political support and the instability in parliament.
Stanishev called on the party to defend the “achievements” of the government, and for the cabinet ministers themselves to do so.
People should now have the right to decide on the next parliament and who would take responsibility for the management of the country, for the next Budget, for the path that Bulgaria will take and the reforms that were needed – in education, administrations, the economy and health care, he said.
“Therefore, I repeat, it is a fair position to have elections immediately. With the political will and responsibility of the President and the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary major political forces, elections in July are a feasible and realistic option. This is the best option for the country,” Stanishev said.