By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of the Sofia Globe
Harsh language has streamed from Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Sergei Stanishev and his allies in condemnation of the rival election candidate list planned by Georgi Purvanov for the May 2014 European Parliament election.
Purvanov, leader of the BSP before his two terms as head of state and who previously failed in his bid to get the party leadership back from his former protege Stanishev, has revived his ABC movement with former foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin named to head the movement’s EP election candidate list.
At a scheduled national conference on January 19, Stanishev labelled Kalfin’s actions in quitting as head of the Bulgarian Socialist group in the European Parliament and working with Purvanov as a “grave political error”, in the service of centre-right opposition party GERB and as “political schizophrenia”.
Stanishev loyalist Anton Kutev said that Purvanov had transformed himself from the grey cardinal of the party into a “political corpse”.
Stanishev said that anyone from the party who supported the Purvanov project and the Kalfin election ticket would be in serious breach of the BSP statutes.
Reportedly, leaders of the BSP in the towns of Montana, Pleven and Dobrich were barred from the national conference because they have allied themselves to Purvanov.
Since Purvanov’s January 13 confirmation of his plan for a separate election list, while insisting that he and his movement members were not leaving the BSP, a number of left-wing political commentators have said that Purvanov would not succeed in taking away a significant number of votes from the BSP and that Stanishev was likely to emerge the winner in what is effectively a renewal of the battle for the party leadership.
Stanishev’s camp labels the Purvanov camp “traitors”.
The BSP leader also, at the January 19 gathering, became more open about his ambitions to be a European Commissioner and expressed confidence about BSP victory in the European Parliament elections, as well as victory by the EU-wide Party of European Socialists of which Stanishev is leader.
Stanishev said that for the BSP, winning the European Parliament elections was important so that the current government could have the support it needed. After the May 2013 national parliamentary elections, the BSP, which had run second, got the chance to govern because GERB had allies in Parliament with which to form a governing coalition. However, the BSP government has been the subject of widely-supported public protests demanding its resignation.
“Do not see me as a future MEP,” said Stanishev, who said that he could become a European Commissioner even without European Parliament elections.
When the BSP government was formed in May 2013, Stanishev did not return to the post of prime minister that he had held in the previous socialist-led tripartite coalition that was in office from 2005 to 2009. Someone else was appointed to sit in the prime minister’s chair, a move that at the time was seen as effective confirmation of Stanishev’s ambitions at EU level.
Meanwhile, Kalfin told local media on January 19 that he was not a traitor.
Someone could be called a traitor if he betrayed his friends and colleagues for some personal benefit. “I do not see any personal benefit in this case,” Kalfin said. “I have not chosen the easier way.”