A national meeting of the right-wing Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (DSB) on March 13 2016 decided that the party would remain in opposition – and would remain part of the Reformist Bloc, the multi-party group that is part of Bulgaria’s government.
The decision was a reaffirmation of the contradictory position in which the DSB has been since Hristo Ivanov, who had been appointed to the Cabinet from its quota, resigned as Justice Minister in protest against the form of constitutional amendments approved by Parliament in what had been intended as a step towards judicial reform.
DSB leader Radan Kanev took his party into opposition but the party leadership, a few weeks later, also decided to remain part of the Reformist Bloc, disavowing Health Minister Petar Moskov as a DSB representative in the Cabinet, saying that Moskov was there only as a representative of the Reformist Bloc.
This form of a Schrödinger’s cat model of political engagement (or, a la LBJ, both outside the tent and inside it) has seen the DSB generally voting with the rest of the Reformist Bloc but sometimes not, and not supporting the February 2016 motion of no confidence in the Cabinet – a motion that was directed against Moskov – while also criticising the Cabinet in Parliament and outside it.
Against this complex background, the DSB voted on March 13 for the party leadership to negotiate with civil and political organisations to establish a broad political alliance that is an alternative to the current model of governance, in the words of a resolution approved by the assembly.
The conference also mandated Kanev and the rest of the DSB leadership to “negotiate about the organisational unity of the Reformist Bloc, based on its original objectives and election programme”.
The co-leader of the Reformist Bloc parliamentary group, Naiden Zelenogorski – from another of the bloc’s parties, and who was greeted with some booing, according to reporters at the meeting – said that the DSB should remain in the Reformist Bloc because it was an important and valuable partner. Zelenogorski pointed to what he described as the successes, in the October 2014 elections, the formation of the bloc’s parliamentary group, and the bloc’s performance in the October 2015 mayoral and municipal elections.
Addressing the meeting ahead of the vote, Kanev asked for a mandate to return the Reformist Bloc to the values with which it had received the trust of voters. The bloc should maintain its integrity and work on the commitments that it had made to voters, he said.
He said that in the year that it had been part of the government, the bloc had failed to achieve its goals.
“I will not ask you for a mandate to leave and destroy the bloc. I will ask for a mandate to bring it back where it belongs, with the voters, its values, its objectives,” Kanev said.