Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Kornelia Ninova’s plans to hold a leadership contest under new rules were dashed on May 28 when the party’s national council called an extraordinary party congress on June 15.
Ninova outlined her proposal a day earlier, saying that she intended to stay at the helm of the party until the council drafted the rules for the election of a new leader, at which point she would resign to stand for re-election.
Her proposal also envisioned the leadership contest being held under BSP’s new statute, with all party members participating in the vote. Under the current rules, the party leader is elected at its congress, which has thousands of delegates nominated by local party organisations.
But BSP’s poor showing in the May 26 European Parliament election – where the party is expected to finish second with about 24.3 per cent, well behind the 31.1 per cent won by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party – appears to have emboldened Ninova’s critics inside the party, who demanded the resignation of Ninova and the entire executive bureau.
Ninova announced her resignation at the national council’s meeting on May 28, but would stay on as party leader until the June 15 congress, which will decide whether to accept Ninova’s resignation and appoint an interim leader. The congress will also decide on the party leader election rules.
In her address to the national council, Ninova reiterated the points she made a day earlier about BSP being the only party that received more votes compared to the 2014 European Parliament elections, as well as winning an extra MEP seat.
But she toned down the rhetoric about “collective responsibility” and did not mention the prospect of leadership changes in local party organisations.
“In democratic parties, in countries observing the rule of law, in modern society, the responsibility is always the leader’s. This is why I am taking full responsibility for this defeat and I am resigning as leader of the BSP,” Ninova said.
She said that she hoped that the leadership contest would be settled by the end of July, so that the party can focus on local elections due in October.