Kornelia Ninova withdrew her resignation as leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) on June 16, at a party congress at which the leadership issue had been the main agenda item.
Ninova, who submitted her resignation after the BSP’s defeat in Bulgaria’s May 2019 European Parliament elections, told the congress that she was not resigning because she wanted the party stabilised before the October municipal elections, and wanted to counter the intra-party clashes that could “liquidate” the party.
Her announcement that she was not resigning was greeted with loud applause. Ahead of the June 16 congress, a number of regional BSP organisations had called on her not to quit.
Ninova had bitter words, in an opening speech to the congress, for her opponents in the BSP.
Addressing herself to those she said had been gathering in recent days in restaurants, cafes and business offices, to discuss “how to divide the inheritance of Kornelia Ninova”, she said: “I have not yet died”.
To “those businessmen who are trying to mix themselves into party affairs from the outside…close your wallets,” Ninova said, claiming that “various political and economic lobbies” were pushing their interests to take over the BSP.
Ahead of the congress, the pro- and anti-Ninova camps had been seeking to rally support from delegates.
Before the congress began, Krassimir Yankov, who had intended to stand in a leadership election, said that were Ninova to stay on as leader, it would cast a “deep shadow” on the party, compromise it and lead to defeat in the municipal elections.
Bulgarian media reported Hristo Prodanov as saying that the camp that wanted to get rid of Ninova wanted to do so to clear the way for a deal with Boiko Borissov, Prime Minister and leader of the centre-right GERB party.
The Ninova camp has been arguing that the BSP is coming under large-scale attack, from outside forces, “oligarchic circles”, and GERB.
The congress also rejected, by 461 votes against to 186 in favour with 14 abstentions, a proposal to amend the party statute. The proposed amendment would have seen a return to the system of the leader being elected by the congress rather than by the party membership as a whole. Ninova had wanted the retention of the system of all party members electing the leader.
The congress also was due to discuss a political report from the national council on the outcome of the European Parliament elections and the BSP’s tasks ahead of the October municipal elections.