Valeri Simeonov, a co-leader of Bulgaria’s government minority coalition partner the United Patriots, said on November 16 that his surprise announcement of his resignation had come as a result of an “ongoing media campaign” against him.
At 8.20pm, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said that Bulgarian PM Boiko Borissov had accepted Simeonov’s resignation as Deputy Prime Minister.
Simeonov has been at the centre of controversy for weeks after he derided protesting mothers of children with disabilities as “shrill women” whose children were “supposedly ill”.
He told reporters at a special news conference at the Cabinet office on the night of November 16 that his resignation as a deputy head of government came as a result of the “media campaign” against him, and attacks on his character, but also against MPs from his National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party.
Simeonov said that these latter attacks were based on a “partial publication” of statements by members of his NFSB party.
He was referring to reports about defamatory comments made by one of his MPs about anti-government protesters, reports that caused political clashes between government and opposition on November 16.
“I clearly realise that this is a media campaign that benefits certain political forces,” Simeonov said.
He said that it was not about him personally but about the government of Bulgaria, and he could not be a millstone and create the preconditions for protests and attacks.
Simeonov said that his resignation from government was aimed at “depriving the protests of the cause, at least in part”.
“There is no drama, I am doing what my conscience dictates,” he said. Simeonov said that he was not making the move under pressure but had decided to submit his resignation after consulting his NFSB party.
Counting the night of November 16, the protests demanding Simeonov’s resignation as Deputy Prime Minister have been going on for 26 days.
His resignation coincides with the start of a so-called “national protest” over three days demanding the resignation of Borissov’s government, and after a week of protests over “high fuel prices” also seeking the resignation of the Borissov government.