The move by Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev to resign his seat as an MP to become a member of the European Parliament was slammed by critics on June 24 as “semi-abdication” and an attempt to flee Bulgaria’s political crisis.
Stanishev was number one on the BSP election candidate list on May 25, and although forced down in the list by preferential voting, became one of four BSP candidates elected to the total of 17 seats in European Parliament reserved for Bulgaria.
There has been a political storm around him because of the latest electoral defeat into which Stanishev led the party, and his move to the European Parliament was highlighted in many media reports on June 24 as the diametric opposite of Stanishev’s oft-repeated promise to not take up his European Parliament seat if elected.
Georgi Purvanov, leader of the rival ABC movement set up in opposition to the BSP under Stanishev’s leadership, described Stanishev’s move as “semi-abdication” of much of the BSP leader’s obligations towards the party, and especially in the management of the election campaign process.
Stanishev’s departure to Brussels also leaves Petar Kurumbashev between two stools, having resigned as a member of the National Assembly ahead of the EP elections in the expectation that he would be elected as an MEP.
Had Stanishev not taken up his seat in the European Parliament, Kurumbashev would have been the BSP’s fourth MEP. Now Kurumbashev is neither an MP nor an MEP.
Stanishev said on June 24 that every politician knows that there are no guarantees for the post for which one is a candidate.
“Petar Kurumbashev was also aware that there is no guarantee of the post in the European Parliament,” Stanishev said.
Soon after the BSP news conference, the party issued a statement quoting Kurumbashev as saying that the law had to be respected, along with the right of those elected to take up their seats. “I wish success to our representatives in the European Parliament and may they be worthy representatives of Bulgaria there,” he said, according to the BSP media statement.
Political commentator Anatoliy Galabov said that Stanishev was running away while the BSP was seized with panic.
“The personal career of Stanishev is not the real matter here. I think that only his relatives are interested in it. The real matter in point is that obviously the BSP finds itself in a total panic. Obviously, the mandate-holder is unable to predict and manage its own actions and this poses a risk for the country,” Galabov told local media.
“I hope that the sitting of the BSP Executive Bureau will make more reasonable and explicit decisions, such as making the government hand in its resignation by the end of the day,” Galabov said.
Political scientist Ognyan Minchev said that Stanishev was quietly fading away to Brussels: “Any more dignified solution would surprise me very much”.
The BSP was using scorched earth tactics, retreating with maximum destruction, plunder and covering up of its tracks.
Meanwhile, Stanishev has proposed that Atanas Merdzhanov, currently deputy head of the BSP parliamentary group, will take over as head of the group.