After 19 years on the air, Bulgarian television showman Slavi Trifonov’s nightly broadcast came to an end, with an announcement that he is to found a political party.
The July 31 announcement came just less than three months before Bulgaria is due to go to the polls in mayoral and municipal elections.
Trifonov and his show were the initiators of a national referendum in 2016, which asked three questions.
One was whether MPs should be elected by majoritarian voting in two rounds, the second the introduction of compulsory voting, and the third whether the state subsidy for political parties and coalitions should be cut to one lev per valid vote.
Initially, there were three other questions, but the Constitutional Court ruled them invalid.
The questions went on to the ballot after Trifonov presented a petition for the referendum with more than 672 000 signatures. An investigation by officials found about 100 000 signatures were invalid, for reasons including duplication, fakery or because the person signing was not eligible to do so. However, the number of valid signatures was over the threshold for the referendum to proceed.
In the referendum, the answer to all three questions was yes, but turnout fell below the minimum threshold to make legislating them mandatory. Trifonov appealed against the Central Election Commission decision in court, but this failed.
Subsequently, mandatory voting was legislated, but then later dropped. In 2019, Bulgaria’s ruling majority legislated cutting state subsidies for political parties to a lev per vote.
In a move apparently targeted towards Bulgarians disgruntled with the country’s political establishment, Trifonov said that the party is to be called – in unofficial translation – “There Is No Such State”. Bulgarians tend to use this phrase colloquially, not in praise but condemnation.
Trifonov said that the aim of the future party would be to ensure that the replies to the questions in the 2016 referendum would be transformed into law.
He said that in mid-September, a new television project would be launched.
Ratings claimed that Trifonov’s show was the most-watched in the late-evening slot on the country’s channels. Given months of speculation that he would launch a party, some opinion polling agencies have begun including this theoretical party in their surveys./ibna
(Archive photo: Trifonov and members of his team present the petition for the referendum in 2016)