Purvanov says he will resign as leader of his party over its turnabout on foreign borrowing
Georgi Purvanov said on February 26 that he would resign as leader of his ABC party, a day after some of the party’s parliamentary group did a turnabout to vote in favour of the Bulgarian centre-right coalition cabinet’s plan for several billion euro in foreign borrowing.
Purvanov repeatedly had underlined, ahead of the vote in the National Assembly, that his party – a socialist breakaway from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and a minority supporter of the cabinet – would vote against the borrowing.
A former president of Bulgaria who founded ABC as a “civic movement” in his final months as head of state, Purvanov led his party to winning 4.15 per cent of the vote in the country’s early parliamentary elections in October 2014.
ABC got 11 MPs in the 240-seat National Assembly, making it one of the two smallest parties. After coalition government negotiations, ABC made a deal with Boiko Borissov’s GERB to provide support in Parliament, and in return, Purvanov’s close ally Ivailo Kalfin became one of four deputy prime ministers.
In the political furore over the borrowing, the initial refusal of ABC and another minority party supporting the government, the nationalist Patriotic Front, to back the debt scheme led to a postponement of voting in the National Assembly because of concerns that the ratification might not be approved.
The ABC parliamentary group, of which party leader Purvanov is not a member, reversed its refusal after Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov gave the National Assembly his “personal assurance” that the final amount of debt taken on by the government would be at least two billion leva (or one billion euro) less than the maximum figure of eight billion euro agreed with the four banks.
In a television interview on February 26, Purvanov said that his party’s parliamentary group had made a serious political mistake.
He said that the ABC parliamentary group had been misled by Goranov.
Purvanov said that he wanted to apologise to the party’s voters, adding that he did not believe Goranov. Parliament had ratified the document that the cabinet had submitted, Purvanov said, indicating that he preferred to go by what was said in documents, not promises.
Purvanov said that he would submit his resignation to the next meeting of the ABC’s national council.
Kiril Tsochev, ABC MP and one of the National Assembly’s Deputy Speakers, said that members of the parliamentary group had no intention of resigning.
Tsochev said that Purvanov’s resignation had not been considered yet, and it was up to the party, not the parliamentary group, to decide whether it was accepted.
ABC had adopted a pragmatic decision on the borrowing, unlike the BSP and ultra-nationalists Ataka that had held to their populist position in continuing to oppose the ratification, Tsochev said.
“No one of us has been pressured, or will be pressured in the future,” Tsochev said. “You should not expect the sensation that ABC is going to decay, that we leave the coalition or that Kalfin resigns. We will work for the stability of the state.”
He said that Purvanov had not been notified in advance that the ABC parliamentary group had changed their minds and intended supporting the borrowing plan.
ABC MP Ivan Ivanov said that communications were not good and they had not been able to contact their leader by phone.
Another ABC MP, Ivan Slavov, told reporters, “We are not so naive as to isolate the president and leader of the party, on the contrary, in every way we show our respect and trust in him”.
Purvanov said that when he announced his intention to resign, his colleagues tried to dissuade him, but he said that he owed it to the voters and citizens. He said that were his resignation to be accepted, he would leave politics forever.