Parliamentary Elections: “Yes, Bulgaria!”, a movement for change

Written by on March 12, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Parliamentary Elections: “Yes, Bulgaria!”, a movement for change

Two months ago, to the day, the former Minister of Justice, Hristo Ivanov, founded a new party, along with colleagues and friends. “Yes, Bulgaria!” wants to change Bulgaria, by radically fighting corruption and by making sure judicial reforms are being implemented.

For Ivanov and the other members of his movement, including the activist Georgi Iliev, who was one of the organizers of protests during the Peevski scandal the Socialist-led government caused some three years ago, it has been an uphill struggle. When “Yes, Bulgaria!” registered as a party with the Central Election Commission CEC in order to be able to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections on March 26th, 2017, they got sued by anonymous saboteurs, who even used stolen identities. When they changed course and registered as a coalition instead, they got sued again. Luckily, the court in charge threw out the anonymous complaints.

In the past two months, since their foundation meeting on January 7th, 2017, the members of “Yes, Bulgaria!” have been travelling like crazy. Within Bulgaria, they even went to tiny villages hardly any party, except for Peevski’s “Movement for Rights and Freedom”, ever visited before. The feedback Georgi Iliev got during his trips was mostly very positive.

Unlike other parties, “Yes, Bulgaria!” even campaigns abroad. Iliev just flew to Berlin and London, in order to talk to and convince Bulgarians living there. The father of three children, a fourth is on its way, has a very tight schedule.

Of course, this very young party and its programme might convince many young people. According to Iliev, 65% of “Yes, Bulgaria!” supporters at between 18 and 45 years old. Still, in order to get political power, as part of the government, or even just as an important player in the next National Assembly, a miracle would have to happen. But Iliev is quite optimistic. First of all, he does not believe the elections on March 26th will produce any government and he is probably right. This would mean, between those elections and the next ones, some three months later, “Yes, Bulgaria!” would have more time to find supporters and voters.

Secondly, “Yes, Bulgaria!” does not necessarily need to be part of the government in order to contribute to change in Bulgaria. Soon, the parliament will have to take important decisions regarding constitutional aspects. They want to be part of that, if they can. For that, they would have to be in the National Assembly and find partners. This is not easy either, but theoretically possible.

The trump card held by this new party has a name: Hristo Ivanov. He did something few Bulgarian politicians have done before him: He stood up for his principles. As Minister of Justice in Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government, he gave up power voluntarily, by stepping down. He did so because the judicial reform he had been working on was macerated by his own government. Ivanov, a man with principles, decided to take a different path. That path is “Yes, Bulgaria!”.

It remains to be seen how far Ivanov, Iliev, and their colleagues get on March 26th. Back in the days, Iliev used to co-organize big concerts for Bulgarian and German promoters. Asked whether it was easier handling famous Heavy Metal bands or Bulgarian politics, he admitted it was the latter.

By Imanuel Marcus

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