Bulgarian governing party, opposition in tussle over European Commissioner candidate

Bulgarian governing party, opposition in tussle over European Commissioner candidate


By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of the Sofia Globe

In spite of its disastrous performance in Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) – current holder of the mandate to govern – is insisting that it will decide on the nomination of the country’s next European Commissioner.

The BSP ran 11 per cent behind centre-right GERB in the May 25 vote. GERB, along with minority parties Bulgaria Without Censorship and the Reformist Bloc as well as anti-government protesters, have repeated calls for the government to resign.

BSP leader Sergei Stanishev(photo) said that he does not see the outcome of the European Parliament vote as a resign for the government to resign, also claiming that turnout was too low for the result to be persuasive.

Before the elections, the more reliable opinion polls put the BSP-mandated government at less than 20 per cent approval rating, while a succession of opinion polls have shown majority support among Bulgarians for the government that was appointed in May 2013 to make way for fresh parliamentary elections.

As reported by Bulgarian National Radio, Stanishev said that the parties in power would propose a European Commissioner candidate and that this would be “the best candidate for our country”.

He declined to name names, saying that it was “too early” to do so, although in political circles, speculation is that the candidate will be picked from a shortlist of BSP government office-bearers and senior Mps.

Stanishev said that it was important to choose a candidate who would be best for the country because it was not only a matter of holding the majority. He said that in 2009, when GERB had won a decisive majority in parliamentary elections, it had put forward a candidate who failed.

This was a reference to GERB’s nomination of then-foreign minister Roumyana Zheleva, whose performance at a European Parliament confirmation hearing was so controversial as to lead to her withdrawal as a candidate European Commissioner and also to her departure from the foreign ministry portfolio.

Reacting, GERB leader Boiko Borissov was outtraged. “What right does Stanishev have to nominate a European Commissioner?”

“An impudent person should be told that he is an impudent person,” Borissov said.

The GERB leader said that a person who had been defeated in elections, was not wanted by his party and, Borissov alleged, had been “proven” his party bought votes, was is no position to nominate a European Commissioner.

Borissov said that he believed that when early parliamentary elections were held, voter turnout would be 70 to 80 per cent and his party would win a parliamentary majority.

The 28 member states of the EU should each nominate a European Commissioner by August. The European Parliament will hold hearings of Commissioner-designates in September, vote on the new commission in late October, and the European Commission will take office on November 1 2014.