Two political parties expressed surprise and anger on Wednesday (6 December) when they learned they had been included in a coalition led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) without their knowledge.
To increase its political influence in the EU’s poorest country, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which is part of the EU Socialists (PES), announced last week an official move to form a 16-member broad coalition including pro-Russian and nationalist parties.
PES, in the meantime, reacted in exclusive comments for Euractiv, warning that BSP could face “consequential measures as it happened in other cases such as in Slovakia”, referring to SMER, the party of Robert Fico, which was recently suspended from PES membership.
On Tuesday, almost a week after the first publication and PES’ strong intervention, BSP sent a “rebuttal” letter to Euractiv, complaining of “untruths” allegedly aimed at discrediting this force.
The letter includes the names of the coalition partners, from which the pro-Russian movement “Russophiles” of Nikolay Malinov and the far-right party Ataka of Volen Siderov are missing.
What looked strange, however, was that the list of partners in the letter differed from the one published on the BSP website.
In particular, the Political Movement Social Democrats, which appears on the PSP website, does not appear in the letter, while the party National Movement for Stability and Growth (NDSV), founded by former king Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, appears on the letter but not on the BSP official website.
Euractiv contacted the leaders of both parties, who said that their inclusion in the coalition network led by BSP leader Kornelia Ninova had nothing to do with the truth.
“They want to use our name because it will benefit them,” Elena Noneva, the leader of the Political Movement Social Democrats, commented. She said that her party had already been thrown out of the coalition with the BSP once, and currently, the two political formations had “nothing in common”.
“The left could rule Bulgaria right now because of the left wave in the country, but the stupidity of the BSP leadership prevented that from happening,” Noneva told Euractiv, adding that “BSP has been making a right turn since the beginning of Kornelia Ninova’s rule.
“We are a left formation”, she hammered out.
Nikolay Kamov, founder and former chairman of the Political Movement Social Democrats, told Euractiv: “I hope that the Social Democrats are not members of this gang because the BSP has become too pro-Russian.”
Kamov was formerly a member of the BSP but abandoned it because he aimed to create a more pro-European centre-left force.
Speaking to Euractiv, Stanimir Ilchev, chairman of the National Movement for Stability and Growth (NDSV), called the inclusion of his force in the list “absurd” and “pure speculation”.
“We never discussed this”. “We cannot have a place under the same roof with BSP for many reasons”, he said.
Indeed, while BSP has maintained a clear pro-Russian position, especially in the context of the war in Ukraine, NDSV, in turn, has always had a clear pro-Western line.
Ninova announced the coalition of “16 parties” in an interview with bTV on 28 October. In the same interview, she said:
“I am happy, despite the criticism I am getting, of the victory of Fico’s party in Slovakia. This is a party member of PES, a partner of ours, that won the elections on a conservative program”.
Although Ninova denies having brought the pro-Russian movement “Russophiles” of Nikolay Malinov, accused of espionage in favour of Russia, and the far-right and pro-Russian party Ataka of Volen Siderov in the coalition, in the local elections of October this year, BSP registered a coalition in the capital Sofia together with the “Russophiles” and Ataka.
“In Sofia [Sofia Town Councillors], we have The Left, three communist parties, the Russophiles movement and Volen Siderov’s Ataka. It’s a joint list in which there are members of BSP and non-members,” Ninova said in the same interview.
Ninova was elected leader of the BSP on 8 May 2016.
One of her big visits abroad as the new party leader was at the 15th congress of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, which took place in Moscow on 27 June 2016.
By then, Putin had already annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and the EU sanctions against several figures in his regime had come into effect.