Bulgaria’s November 2021 elections: Ninova resigns as leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party

Kornelia Ninova said on November 16 that she was resigning as leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), saying that she took “full responsibility” for the party’s catastrophic performance in Sunday’s early parliamentary elections – but also blaming several other factors.

Provisional results show that the BSP got little more than 10 per cent of the vote in Bulgaria’s November 14 early parliamentary elections, putting it in fourth place. In regular parliamentary elections in April, the BSP got 15.01 per cent and in early parliamentary elections in July, 13.4 per cent.

As the November 14 results became clear, Ninova had been the subject of calls for her resignation, including from the BSP Youth wing, BSP Sofia, prominent members of the party and caretaker government spokesperson Anton Kutev, a former socialist MP.

Ninova, who has led the BSP since May 2016 – into a succession of worsening electoral defeats – said that the calls for her resignation had come from “one group” and thanked those who had called on her not to step down as party leader. She said that she had not been impressed by the calls for her resignation because they came from people who had been making them for the past five years.

She did not say whether she would seek re-election, and said that she would continue as party leader until an election was held, probably in January.

“I consider this result to be catastrophic, especially since we went from third to fourth place (in the National Assembly),” Ninova said.

She said that she had been “surprised” by Kutev making his call in his capacity as government spokesperson rather than in the BSP plenum, and she disclosed that the initiative committee that had nominated Roumen Radev for re-election as president also had called on her to resign.

Ninova listed the reasons for the BSP’s poor performance as including that some voters had been frightened by the Covid-19 pandemic and had stayed away from the polling stations.

Machine voting had made it difficult for the older population, she said, referring to a section of the electorate that usually supports the BSP.

She said that another factor was the strong vote in Turkey for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms that had boosted that party into third place in the November 14 parliamentary election.

Ninova accused the caretaker cabinet of working to support the Kiril Petkov-Assen Vassilev We Continue the Change party, which won the most votes in the election.

She said that she had received a call on November 15 from Petkov and Vassilev with an invitation for talks on the formation of a government, and had accepted the invitation.

On November 15, the leaders of the three parties that make up the Democratic Bulgaria coalition resigned against the background of the coalition’s poor performance in Sunday’s vote, as did the leader of the ultra-nationalist VMRO party, after the party got only one per cent in the parliamentary election.

(Photo of Ninova via the BSP’s Facebook page)

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