All eyes on Bulgaria’s ‘Turkish party’ MRF

It may again have run only third in Bulgaria’s October elections, but the Movement for Rights and Freedoms remains central to conversation in the country’s politics – either as a pole around which the axis of the country’s public life revolves, or as the polecat that few if any other parties want to be near.

The MRF was in particular focus on October 14 in the hours ahead of its scheduled meeting with Boiko Borissov’s GERB, winner of the largest share of votes in the elections and the next government-presumptive.

GERB is holding a series of formal talks with all of the other seven parties that won seats in Bulgaria’s 43rd National Assembly. None of these meetings is likely to be dull, but that with the MRF certainly has a number of interesting aspects.

The MRF was the key element in the ruling axis that was in power in Bulgaria from May 2013 to August 2014 before finally stepping down amid widespread public rejection.

It has a track record of working in coalition with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, a scenario impossible this time round because the BSP and MRF combined have fewer seats than GERB, and beyond that, a return to power in any discernible form of the former ruling axis would likely trigger fresh if not more powerful public protests.

There has been much speculation of a discreet deal between GERB leader Borissov and MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan, a scenario both deny but which was fuelled by a publicised meeting between the two a few months ago amid the melodrama surrounding the declining fortunes of the BSP and the government formed with the BSP mandate.

A day ahead of the October 14 talks at Bulgaria’s National Assembly building, Mestan said that his MRF was ready to lend support to a GERB minority government “with no conditions and without power-sharing” but added that the MRF would “categorically” oppose an unprincipled coalition involving extreme nationalist entities.

For the full story, please click here.