FRI, 29 JUN 2001 00:49:26 GMT
The Bulgarians Chose to Believe Him
The movement of Tsar Simeon II is the new domineering political force in
AIM Sofia, June 18, 2001
Bulgarian Tsar Simeon II demanded strong support in order to win the
parliamentary elections and the voters have offered it to him in a very
resolute way. National Movement of Simeon the Second (NPSD), established
two months ago as a coalition of two unknown parties, won 42.73 per cent
of the votes. Since in the new parliament, the 39th National Assembly,
there will be only four political parties, the achieved results will
bring NPSD 120 out of the total of 240 seats. Certainly, not even Simeon
Saksoburgotski himself could have expected such a resolute support, nor
have sociologists expected anything similar.
For the third time in a row the voters have decided to punish the
previous administration by giving power to a single political power
again. Just as in 1994 the Bulgarians punished the indecisive rule of
the coalition government of Ljuben Berov and ensured absolute majority
for Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), in 1997 former communists were
punished for economic chaos, and United Democratic Forces (UDS) were
also given the possibility to rule on their own. It still is not clear
what will come out of this third hasty move. It is certain, however,
that Bulgarian voters do not forgive their administrators when they
begin to enjoy power and use it for their personal purposes. Now NPSD is
faced with the same temptation, since it can practically form the
government on its own.
There is no doubt that the voting of the Bulgarians was a punishment,
not just of the current Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, but of the entire
system. But the biggest losers are the United Democratic Forces which
won only 18.17 per cent of the votes, or just one per cent more than the
Socialists (17.14%). The statistics shows that 1.4 million less voters
voted for ODS than in the elections four years ago.
Although it has stabilised Bulgaria on the economic level, in the past
four years, the government of Ivan Kostov has not succeeded in meeting
the expectations of the voters concerning transparency and honesty of
its rule. The scandals caused by corruption in connection with the sale
of state-owned enterprises fundamentally changed the disposition of the
Bulgarians. The messages of Simeon II on the new morale in politics,
honesty and transparency, on uncompromising struggle against corruption
have probably turned out to be the most powerful trump card in his quite
inconspicuous campaign. It was founded on a saying of the Tsar and a
controversial but considerably ambitious economic platform.
The coalition of United Democratic Forces lost voters even in the last
month of the official election campaign. The current administration had
chosen a negative campaign built on drawbacks. Its affirmative elements
rested on success and popularity of the mayor of the capital, Stefan
Sofijanski and Olympic athletics champion Tereza Marinova, but they
could hardly be held responsible for UDSís rule in the past four years.
The coalition of UDS has lost Ė although it does not rank last - because
of the arrogance of its leaders during their term in office. Ivan
Kostovís ministers and deputies of the coalition were far away from
their voters, from their problems, and they have forgotten to explain
the meaning of the carried out economic reforms. All the voters can do
is to pay the bill.
The movement of Simeon II hinted that it would not repeat the mistake of
its predecessor and announced his intention to form a broad coalition.
At this moment the most probable partner seems to be the smallest
political party Ė the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (PPS) which
represents the interests of ethnic Turks. But the Tsar does not
eliminate the possibility of forming a coalition with UDS as a formation
with similar economic ideals.
Whether such a coalition will be possible depends on several factors but
primarily on what will happen in the League of Democratic Forces (SDS).
Ivan Kostov has given a signal that he might submit his resignation
because of the very poor election result the coalition he heads has
achieved. Two politicians with the highest rating, President of the
Republic Petar Stojanov and the mayor of the capital city Stefan
Sofijanski hinted that UDS ought to accept the invitation to a
government coalition with NPSD in order to continue with economic
reforms and complete negotiations on joining the European Union and
NATO. If there is a consensus about any question, it is certainly the
success of Bulgaria in foreign policy.
There is still the open question of the future role Tsar Simeon II in
political life. He refuses to comment on this topic, but his intention
to run for president is increasingly obvious. Lawyers from his team
announced a few times that the text from the Constitution of Bulgaria in
which it is demanded that the candidate for president be a resident of
this country for at least five years would be put on the agenda of the
new parliament. A single amendment of the Constitution in that sense
will enable Simeon Saksoburgotski to compete with the current President
Petar Stojanov in new elections in autumn this year.
And since the ambitions of the Tsar are evidently going beyond the post
of the prime minister, it still is not clear who can become the prime
minister of the country. It is quite possible that the prime minister
may come from UDS, if those who were in the administration so far agree
to a broad government coalition.
Things do not look good for the political left either, which is headed
by the Socialist Party. Although in majority of electoral districts BSP
and its coalition partners rank second, it continues to lose support of
the voters. According to the opinion of the leader of the party Georgi
Prvanova these elections are a failure because the Socialists have not
managed to attract the votes of those discontented with the rule of UDS.
Moreover, BSP has lost numerous voters because of the appearance of the
Tsarís movement. However, it is not certain that BSP would not have won
even if NPSD had not participated in the elections. BSP is at this
moment the only opposition force in the parliament.