A member of Parliament for Bulgaria’s nationalist coalition the Patriotic Front (PF) has quit its parliamentary group.
The Patriotic Front won 19 out of 240 seats in Bulgaria’s National Assembly in October 2014 early parliamentary elections, and currently supports the centre-right coalition cabinet headed by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, although it is considering withdrawing its support.
Velizar Enchev, who was alone on November 7 in running against the Patriotic Front’s coalition decision by voting against parliamentary approval of the Borissov cabinet, said on November 30 he was leaving the PF parliamentary group because of the “political fraud” carried out by the leadership of the coalition.
He singled out xenophobia as the issue troubling him, saying that there was a “worrying fixation” on the ethnicity of the opponents of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, the PF constituent party led by Valeri Simeonov.
Simeonov has been insisting on the withdrawal as deputy defence minister of Orhan Ismailov, appointed from the quota of the Reformist Bloc, which includes the People’s Party Freedom and Dignity, essentially a breakaway from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms – a party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity.
The PF also has been insisting on the removal from the national airwaves of public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television’s daily 10-minute news bulletins in Turkish.
Enchev said that “fixation” on the ethnicity of the opponents of the NFSB cast a shadow over the democratic character of the party and gave rise to accusations of xenophobia.
He said that the electoral platform and public messages of the NFSB had defined it as a party of the poor and those marginalised by a quarter century of crime during the transition, and not as a crutch of those responsible for socio-economic disaster in the poorest country of the European Union.
The NFSB largely had been created to fight against the viciousness of the first government headed by Borissov (in office from 2009 to early 2013) but currently was in the service of Borissov’s GERB party, Enchev said.
The Enchev departure from the PF parliamentary group is the third change of the setup of MPs in Bulgaria’s 43rd National Assembly.
Even before Bulgaria’s new Parliament held its first sitting, one of the MPs for the populist Bulgaria Without Censorship party said that she was quitting the party to sit as an independent, while on November 28, the MRF announced that it was expelling two MPs from its parliamentary group because they had failed to keep to a claimed promise not to take up their seats won through the electorate using preferential voting.
These changes from the seat allocation announced by the Central Election Commission on October 9 reduced the number of MPs for the BWC (which now calls itself the “Bulgarian Democratic Centre”) from 15 to 14 and the number of MRF MPs from 38 to 36. Both of these parties are in opposition.
(Photo: Young men dressed up as figures from Bulgaria’s history, at the August 2014 formation of the Patriotic Front)