Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria: Socialists hoping for a comeback

Written by on March 13, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Parliamentary elections in Bulgaria: Socialists hoping for a comeback

Bulgaria’s Socialist Party (BSP) is in a tight race to become the winner of the parliamentary elections on March 26 2017. Members feel a tailwind, since the presidential elections last November, in which the candidate they supported, Roumen Radev, won. Also, these will be the first parliamentary elections with Kornelia Ninova as the party’s leader, which is why the Socialists are hoping for a positive effect. But the latter is not guaranteed. 

Galina Vasileva is heading the BSP’s youth organisation in the town of Pernik. She brings along a lot of energy and could be one of the personalities of the party’s future, which will not be easy either, in part because the forces of the past still have a say in the BSP, including former State Security members.

Imanuel Marcus met Galina Vasileva in Sofia.

The Sofia Globe (TSG): What are the Socialist’s main goals, this time around?

Galina Vasileva: We want to fight the alarming demographic development. The Bulgarian people is shrinking and many people decide to move abroad. Also, we will fight poverty and help young families. Our idea is to set up a fund with a volume of 500 million leva, in order to assist young families who might need an apartment, while the interest demanded by banks are far too high for them.

TSG: Kornelia Ninova, your party’s leader, just said she wanted to lift the sanctions against Russia. She would not be able to do so on her own, but why should they be lifted in the first place?

Galina Vasileva: Bulgaria always had close ties with Russia, in a historical, cultural and religious sense. It is still the case today. Then there is our co-operation in the area of the economy. Russia is a large market. For both Bulgaria and Europe, it would be far better to be able to trade with the Russians. The sanctions hurt Bulgaria. 

Galina Vasileva in front of the HQ of the Bulgarian Socialist Party in Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

TSG: The few reliable opinion research institutes in Bulgaria are saying, Boyko Borissov’s conservative party GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party will be in for a tight race on March 26 2017. They also strongly believe either party will need at least one, if not more coalition partners, in order to be able to form a government. You guys are ruling out a grand coalition involving GERB. So, which party would you pick? 

Galina Vasileva: The United Patriots might be a good coalition partner. They want to improve the economical situation as well, a solution for our demographic problems and increased pensions. Those are the kind of social policies we want as well. There are similarities, but of course anything depends on the negotiations. At least this is a possibility. But, at the end of the day, all parties, except for GERB, would be potential coalition partners.

TSG: Who are the Socialist’s supporters? O.k., you are head of the youth organization in Parnik, but aren’t your voters quite old?

Galina Vasileva: Sure, our party’s voters tend to be older Bulgarians. But since our most recent party congress and due to changes we implemented, the average age decreased to some extent, which means there are more young people than before. It is not easy to accelerate this process, but we did start a campaign entitled “Stay Here”, which is intended to help us fight the brain drain Bulgaria is experiencing. Also, we want to start a campaign for a return of young Bulgarians abroad to their home country. By the way: There is an existing European programme we co-launched some years ago with the PES, with is the European Union’s “Youth Guarantee”.

TSG: Many Bulgarians are expecting a stalemate situation after March 26th, which might force Bulgaria to have yet another round of elections. What do the Socialists believe, in this regard?

Galina Vasileva: Officially, we do not believe in elections after the elections. This is the kind of position we need to have, since it does not seem too healthy to run an election campaign with thoughts of that kind. We want to win these elections. We are putting a lot of effort into this and we want to form a government after March 26th. In case in really does not work this way, another round of elections would definitely be better for Bulgaria than a shaky government. 

TSG: What if there is another round of elections, with the same stalemate situation experienced in the first round?

Galina Vasileva: By then, the situation in Bulgaria will definitely change. Anyway: We are concentrating on these elections, on March 26th.

Kornelia Ninova and Galina Vasileva.

TSG: Last Thursday, the Bulgarian Dossier Commission released a list with 81 names. All of them were party candidates for the parliamentary elections and former members of the notorious State Security in communist Bulgaria. Your party, the Socialists, has 16 State Security candidates. Do you intend to follow the example of smaller parties, who sacked their State Security people? 

Galina Vasileva: My personal opinion is that these people worked for the security of this country, in both Bulgaria and abroad. They fought for the interests of Bulgaria. Not all State Security agents were spies in their own country. There are differences. 

TSG: GERB’s Boiko Borissov has said, he did not want to form a government if his party hits the second place. But he wants to win and has chances as well. 

Galina Vasileva: He wants to whitewash himself with a huge victory, which is wishful thinking. One should not forget that Bulgaria’s economical situation is bad. Borissov accumulated a lot of debt. First there were 16 billion (British English: milliard) leva, and then another 4 billion. So, officially, our debt is 20 billion leva.  Who will pay for it? Borissov does not want to concede his mistakes or solve the problem. Neither does he want to take responsibility.

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