Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Kiril Dobrev issued a public apology on his Facebook page after a storm broke around him for saying in an interview, when asked whether a woman could lead the BSP, “A woman BSP leader? I prefer women for other things”.
Among the first to react to the Dobrev remark, made in a live television interview, was former grand national assembly member and former diplomat Leah Koen, who said, “no one can compete with a Balkan oaf”.
Dobrev’s remark came in the run-up to the July 27 special congress of the BSP, at which a leader will be elected to succeed Sergei Stanishev, who is stepping down against a background of the party’s dismal electoral failures.
While there remains a lack of clarity about who are the confirmed candidates, there is at least one woman, Kyustendil MP Maya Manolova.
Koen said that speaking the way that Dobrev had would lead, had it been said in France, to the government to fall, in the US Dobrev would be flogged in public, and in Germany or Sweden, Dobrev would be certified as insane.
Dobrev, unflogged and uncertified, said on his Facebook page, “dear ladies, dear comrades, dear girls, God, I would not have imagined that in our country there are so many ‘defenders’ of women.
“Those who know me know that it is my pleasure and privilege to work with women. Not surprisingly, the leader of the regional organisation of the BSP in Sofia is called Margarita Petkova,” said Dobrev, who added the names of other women in leadership positions in the BSP.
Implying that no strong woman that he knew had been unimpressed by what he said, Dobrev added, “to all the other ladies, women comrades and girls, I offer my most sincere apologies. I hope that beautiful part of humanity will forgive the inappropriate humour”.
Apparently seeking to not miss an opportunity, Ivailo Kalfin of the ABC movement, a left-wing rival to the BSP, attempted some humour of his own.
On his Facebook page, Kalfin asked Dobrev to say what is was that Dobrev preferred women for – as secretaries, domestic assistants, for sex, or as dolls whose job it was to gaze admiringly at men; Kalfin asked whether Dobrev did not understand women, or whether he had not heard of the priorities of socialists in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Kalfin added a seventh option for an answer: “other”.