WED, 18 APR 2001 23:46:40 GMT
The King's Comeback
The national movement around Simeon II will change the political map of
AIM Sofia, April 7, 2001
King Simeon II has put a stop to his long-time silence and declared the
beginning of his political career. In his emotion-charged address he
delivered in his restituted palace Vrana near Sofia, the son of the last
Bulgarian ruler Boris III, announced the setting up of a national
movement "Simeon II" which will run in the forthcoming parliamentary
elections. The aim is to have as many delegates of this party as
possible enter Parliament so as to create conditions for implementing in
practice the basic principles of Simeon's programme. Thus, after more
than 55 years, Coburg-Gotha's successor has a chance of once again
running the country. This time not as a monarch, but as a politician in
the Republic of Bulgaria.
According to forecasts, the new national movement "Simeon II" has a
chance of disrupting the traditional bipolar model of rule applied in
the last 11 years and even win parliamentary elections. Simeon II can
win over those voters who are disappointed with the current system, who
represent a significant part of the Bulgarian population. Simeon
Coburg-Gotha emphasised several basic principles he would abide by in
his political activities and, at the same time, left the answer to
certain questions for some future time.
The thesis on morals in politics was one of the points he made in his
address. "Urgent changes of the political system and its morals are
required. We need honesty. Honesty in everything!" said the King. Simeon
II harshly criticised "the political primitivism". He stigmatised the
corruption, which, according to him, became "Bulgaria's main enemy
condemning the people to poverty and putting off the essentially needed
"It is neither moral nor politically justified to have the majority of
people here live in misery according to European standards, while on the
other side individual politicians are rolling in money, for dozens of
our sons and daughters to leave Bulgaria because they have no prospects
here, and at the same time have almost a half of Bulgarians who claim
that they have no one to vote for", he said.
These words of Simeon II were particularly addressed to those voters
who are disappointed with today's politicians, to people with low wages,
to the young and labour active population. His words that a major part
of delegates should be women because "by their participation politics
would become more human and thus more successful" were calculated to
draw the sympathies of the voters of fair sex.
Simeon II said that he could offer a package of economic measures
which, "coupled with the famous Bulgarian hard work and enterprising
spirit would change the people's lives" in 800 days at most. He pointed
to the much-needed foreign investments required so that the living
standards could be raised.
King Simeon's address also raised some issues. He announced the
establishment of the national movement "Simeon II", but did not explain
whether he would himself be running for delegate. The question who will
around him to carry out his programme or at least fill the slate,
remained hanging in the air.
Simeon's long silence has provided fertile ground for numerous
speculations. Many politicians have been mentioned as possible
participants in a future monarchist structure. The only thing that is
clear now is that the national movement "Simeon II" would not be a
coalition of parties nor of political leaders. According to him, it
would rally about professionals who "had been working, suffering and
believing in the future of our nation". He promised that he would also
invite active politicians because of their experience and
professionalism, but did not disclose their names.
In order to give himself a greater weight, Simeon II avoided answering
some question which worry his direct competitors for power and mostly
turned to the voters. "This party will not focus its attention on
individual parties or personalities, but rather on Bulgaria's basic
The expected news on Simeon's joining the political life and the
emphasis from his address immediately became the subject of numerous
analyses and forecasts. According to the majority of observers, his
speech was proper, restrained and wise. The only rather sensitive detail
was the fixed deadline of 800 days for getting out of the economic
crisis and improving the life of all Bulgarians.
Political scientists and sociologists are competing in their forecasts
of the future success or failure of the King at the parliamentary
elections. It is a fact that Simeon II will attract a part of voters of
the ruling Alliance of Democratic Forces (SDS), as well as a great
number of people who did not even plan to vote. According to the latest
sociological studies, the prospects of the future formation around the
King, SDS and Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) are practically equal. The
idea to name the movement after Simeon II was considered a positive move
since he has enormous personal authority.
One of the reasons for Simeon's high rating, however, is the fact that
his name has not been discredited under the previous political regime.
His joining the politics might change things. And that is reason enough
for numerous skeptical remarks. "From now on Simeon's rating will only
fall - the more he transfers into deeds what he is professing," said
Dejan Kjuranov, a political scientist. "He can expect a great deal of
undermining, since this is not the matter of politics, but of
personality", said his colleague Koljo Kolev from the "Medijana" Agency.
However, the fact remains that the King will attempt to realise a
majority election in a proportionate electoral system and thus take the
space which other parties have voluntarily vacated.
It is expected that three major and two smaller formations will make it
to the next parliament. As far as the ideological direction is concerned
the future imperial movement is closest to SDS and it is quite possible
that they will form a future coalition. However, judging by the latest
information from Simeon's headquarters, such cooperation is not so
realistic. Simeon II and Ivan Kostov held a two-hour meeting the night
just before the King issued his statement in the park of the Vrana
palace. It is also considered that a large number of active politicians,
who left SDS or were expelled from it, will rally around Simeon II.
Bearing in mind the fact that their pre-election messages and objectives
are mostly directed to the same part of the electorate, it is hardly
likely that the love between SDS and the national movement "Simeon II"
will flare up.
One thing is certain: the elections of June 17 will be more than
interesting because there are already three players and not two, as
before, and their chances are absolutely equal. Only time will show.