Bulgarian far-right leader hints at early elections if Istanbul Convention is adopted

Volen Siderov, leader of the parliamentary group of the nationalist United Patriots – minority partner in the Bulgarian government – has hinted that should Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party proceed to parliamentary ratification of the Istanbul Convention, there would be “shocks” in the ruling coalition and early elections could not be ruled out.

At the same time, speaking in a February 11 interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, Siderov said that he was pleased with GERB’s decision to postpone a parliamentary vote on the Istanbul Convention.

Principally directed against domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention has been the subject of a disinformation campaign in Bulgaria, backed by conservative, nationalist and far-right forces, on the basis of it purportedly requiring recognition of a “third gender”.

The considerable public controversy generated around this prompted GERB to postpone holding a vote on ratification on the convention, and it remains unclear when it would reach the House floor.

Siderov, asked if elections would be the result if the convention was adopted after the close of Bulgaria’s current six-month Presidency of the Council of the EU, said yes.

After Bulgaria’s March 2017 elections, the United Patriots became the minority partner in Boiko Borissov’s third government. Valeri Simeonov, rear left, and Krassimir Karakachanov, right, became deputy prime ministers, while Volen Siderov (facing microphones) became head of the United Patriots parliamentary group.

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(Screenshots: BNT)