The leader of Bulgaria’s Ataka party, Volen Siderov, has been ousted as leader of the parliamentary group of the ultra-nationalist United Patriots coalition, the minority partner in the country’s government.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Tsveta Karayancheva, said that she had been informed of the change, and that the United Patriots group would be co-led by Valentin Kasabov of the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria and Iskren Vesselinov of VMRO.
The United Patriots’ group will have Boris Yachev and Milen Mihov as deputy leaders and Kristian Mitev and Yulian Angelov as secretaries.
This means that Siderov’s Ataka party will have no representatives in the leadership of the United Patriots group.
Reports said that the vote to oust Siderov had been taken on July 9, and that the decision had been taken at a meeting of the United Patriots group not attended by representatives of Ataka.
Reporters in Parliament said that Ataka’s Pavel Shopov and Dessislav Chukulov had declined to answer questions from journalists and said that a formal statement would be made later.
The decision is said to have been based on Siderov not having called a meeting of the group for months.
The ouster of Siderov comes after months of tensions and frequent public squabbles among the co-leaders of the United Patriots – Siderov, NFSB leader Valeri Simeonov and VMRO leader and Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov.
The United Patriots became the minority partner in the third Boiko Borissov government, formed in 2017 after early parliamentary elections.
Such has been the infighting among the United Patriots that its three constituent parties stood separately in Bulgaria’s May 2019 European Parliament elections. Only one of the three parties, Karakachanov’s VMRO, got over the threshold, winning two of Bulgaria’s 17 seats in the EU legislature.