After years of speculation that he intended entering politics, Bulgarian television showman Slavi Trifonov said on September 15 that he was looking for “talented, qualified and moral Bulgarians” who could run the country.
The open letter came as Trifonov’s evening show was to resume on one of Bulgaria’s commercial television stations. It is claimed in ratings to be one of the most-watched programmes on Bulgarian television.
Trifonov was behind a November 2016 national referendum on three questions of electoral system reform. The referendum failed because it did not get the turnout required to be binding. Bulgaria’s highest court has confirmed the Central Election Commission finding that the referendum results were not binding on the National Assembly.
Recent controversies around Trifonov have included the television station that hosts his show dropping some episodes because of his overt political statements. Other controversies have included the show depicting the tearing up of a photograph of then head of state President Rossen Plevneliev.
Trifonov’s concerts tend to be sellout events. However, earlier in 2017, a protest led by him outside the National Assembly drew scant turnout, except by curious journalists.
In his September 15 open letter, Trifonov denounced the permanent “incompetence and immorality of the current political class”.
This was a “sad, sad, sad, business”, he said.
“We in the initiative committee believe that the people who represent the state, the country and ourselves do not possess the necessary capacity, the necessary qualities or the necessary morality to be called politicians and statesmen. But that does not mean that there are no such Bulgarians,” he said.
“In Bulgaria and overseas, there are certainly talented, skilled and moral Bulgarians who can run our country and get us out of this 27-year-old mess,” he said, referring to the period since the fall of communism and the beginning of Bulgaria’s transition to democracy.
“And I guarantee that I will do my best and start today to look for such Bulgarians. I’ll find them. I’ll introduce them to you. And you will decide whether you want these Bulgarians to replace the current political class.”
Some of Bulgaria’s less reliable polling agencies have in the past included a possible Slavi Trifonov political formation in surveys of political support, and these polls have suggested that such a grouping could have a significant presence in a future National Assembly.
Recent years in Bulgaria have seen varying degrees of success for various forms of populist political groups in elections, not excluding the rise of Boiko Borissov. Most such populist parties, however, have won only a number of seats of any significance for a single term, before being abandoned by a disillusioned Bulgarian electorate.
In the case of Trifonov, with him announcing no platform beyond his quest for talented and capable Bulgarians to govern, it may be presumed that any political project would follow the lines of his populist, nationalist rantings on television.