Deluges of promises and insults unleashed as Bulgarian election campaigns begin

With sideswipes at opponents and waves of promises, Bulgaria’s political parties and coalitions have begun their official campaigns ahead of the country’s March 26 2017 early parliamentary elections.

GERB leader Boiko Borissov praised his own party for having “changed Bulgaria in just a few years”.

Borissov, twice prime minister and whose resignation prompted these elections, devoted invective to his party’s Bulgarian Socialist Party rival – the lineal successor of the Bulgarian Communist Party – saying that it had passed through every stage in 130 years, “from explosions in churches to sending people to Belene to be eaten by pigs to several national disasters”.

He said that today the BSP was promising change, but its candidate lists featured “the children of the nomenklatura, the secret police and the oligarchs”. The “new faces” of the BSP were 70 to 80 years old, Borissov said.

He said that it was clear that even from what he called the BSP’s caretaker cabinet, it was clear that they could not govern.

GERB’s weekend political campaigning was, however, overshadowed on social networks by much-lampooned footage of senior party lieutenants kissing his hand, on the day that in Bulgarian tradition, people ask their seniors for forgiveness.

Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova decried the promises of GERB and the Reformist Bloc for intruding on what she portrayed as her party’s territory, pledges of increased incomes.

“How can anyone believe this? After, only a month ago, when we were discussing the Budget for 2017, they raised their hands against an increase in incomes. They froze the minimum salary for the next three years. They put forward education as a priority, after only a month ago they violated the constitution and by three ballots, rejected money for the Bulgarian Academy of Science,” Ninova said.

“They put forward health as a priority, after the court has revoked half of their health care reform and the other half is in the hands of the prosecutors,” she said.

The ultra-nationalist United Patriots coalition set its cap at winning first place in the March parliamentary elections, pledging to comply only with the wishes of the Bulgarian people, not with parties of the left and right that – they said – take their orders from Ankara, Washington or Brussels.

Ataka leader Volen Siderov said that the “wall of anti-Bulgarianism” that the “patriots” had faced for years was being breached.

National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria leader Valeri Simeonov said that what the coalition had done together in the National Assembly showed the Bulgarian people “there can be politically responsible people and a responsible political coalition that fulfils its promises”.

VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov said that the United Patriots were not opening their campaign, but “continuing the campaign for the salvation of Bulgaria”.

At a campaign launch event in Veliko Turnovo, Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Mustafa Karadaya called for a unifying of forces and energy for common security, for a better future and for the cause of Bulgaria.

“In the presidential elections, we wanted change and we succeeded. Now we are together in a battle for a new victory, to achieve even greater change. To save Bulgaria,” Karadaya said.

The Reformist Bloc’s Naiden Zelenogorski, in a Friday night television interview, hit out at Ognyan Gerdzhikov’s caretaker government, saying that it was made up of “inspectors, auditors, prosecutors and judges”.

He called on Gerdzhikov to stop his caretaker cabinet ministers becoming political players. “Be so kind as to not carry out political orders. Your job is to provide voting machines and ensure a fair political process,” Zelenogorski said.

He said that it was the Reformist Bloc ministers in the now-departed government that had carried out reforms and this was precisely why they had come under attack.

“They have been the object of special attention for several months,” Zelenogorski said, in a reference to a number of the bloc’s now-former ministers being investigated or charged by the Prosecutor-General’s office.

The ABC-Movement 21 coalition, of two socialist breakaway parties, launched its campaign enthusing about the potential it saw as being offered by doing the arithmetic of adding together the votes the respective candidates of the two parties got in the November presidential elections.

ABC leader Konstantin Prodanov told the campaign launch event that “27 years of plunder and exploitation are enough.” The coalition’s candidate lists contained people with dignity and authority that are ready to serve Bulgaria, he said.

“Our alliance aims to pull the country out of the quagmire in which it is mired and we can look to the future with hope and optimism,” Prodanov said.

Yes Bulgaria leader Hristo Ivanov said on February 24 that the most recent report by the European Commission on structural imbalances showed that it was clear that the EC had no confidence in the independence of controls on banks in the country.

Pointing to criticisms in this report and in the January 2017 report by the EC on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism – meant to bring Bulgaria up to EU standards in justice and home affairs – Ivanov said that the country’s political elite, whether nominally right-wing or nominally left-wing, were not bothering to comment.

Radan Kanev, leader of the New Republic party, told a Saturday election campaign opening event in Plovdiv that the engagement between GERB and the BSP had already passed and the wedding was being prepared.

Kanev hit out at Mareshki and at the Reformist Bloc’s Petar Moskov, implying that they were ready to go into power with Borissov.

“New Republic is the courageous right-wing alternative – and today courage is really needed,” the party’s Traicho Traikov said.

He said that the people heading BSP candidate lists were “cops and anti-Europeans”, while GERB had on list Georgi Markov, a former Constitutional Court judge exposed as a former State Security agent who had blocked a law on opening secret police files.

The Reformist Bloc lists included people who had been associated with Nikolai Barekov, Delyan Peevski and Brigo Asparuhov.

“When you have all that against you, you really need courage. But still it is very easy to see where your place is, the difference is obvious. New Republic is the alternative to all these thieves and crooks,” Traikov said.




Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.