Tensions in Power-Sharing Nationalist Coalition

118 POLITICS – GOVERNMENT – MINOR PARTNER – TENSION 

Sofia, October 17 (BTA) – New tensions surfaced Wednesday in thepower-sharing United Patriots (UP) nationalist coalition when the deputies of the National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria (NFSB) said they were stripping of their confidence UP floor leader and Ataka party chairman Volen Siderov. The opposition Socialist party saw this as a sign of the demise of the government coalition and its senior partner GERB.

In addition to NFSB and Ataka, United Patriots also includes the IMRO party of Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov. 

The first spark came from Alfa TV of the Ataka party. They discontinued their broadcasts last weekend leaving only a black screen with quotes from Siderov’s statements against NFSB leader Simeonov describing him as “Soros’ man in the government” and saying that he “seeks to undermine Orthodoxy in conflict with 
all church canons, and to cause a rift in the churches of Ukraine and Macedonia”. 

Simeonov recently urged the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Church. 

Siderov, by contrast, is frequently seen taking pro-Russian positions. 

In a statement for the press NFSB Wednesday said that Siderov violated a decision by the Political Council of United Patriots vowing support for the UP representatives in the government. “The public appearances and behavior of Volen Siderov in Bulgaria and abroad, including Russia, should in no way be associated with NFSB,” the statement goes. 

Following this decision, the NFSB deputies will be represented in the legislature by Valentin Kassabov and Boris Yanchev. 

IMRO said they don’t want to take sides in the conflict and expressed hope that the situation is not irreversible. They saidin a statement that it is important “not to destroy the unity of the patriotic forces that has been achieved” and that destroying it would be immature. 

NFSB said that at the next UP Coalition Council they will move for the replacement of Siderov as floor leader.

IMRO said they are yet to decide whether or not to support such replacement.

Confirming rumours that the entire affair was about who will lead the list of candidates for the European Parliament elections next year, NFSB said that their leader Valeri Simeonovhad expressed readiness to discuss it but after Ataka’s frashmob he no longer is. 

“In the long run, Siderov’s interest is to stand up only and exclusively for the Russian interests and to work against Bulgaria, and you don’t call this patriotism,” said NFSB’s Valentin Kassabov. 

He recalled that the past months saw Siderov attack not only Simeonov but other government members as well. “This is why a decision by the UP Coalition Council made two important decisions on September 11: that Siderov remains floor leader and that all UP deputies support the UP representatives in the government,” he said. He said that was “a truce which was broken in the recent days”. 

Even though he believes that Ataka seeks to undermine the UP parliamentary group and the ruling coalition, Kassabov is adamant that the alliance stands stable and that NFSB has no intention to leave it or the UP group.

Later in the day, however, no other than Valeri Simeonov told reporters that his party could decide to leave United Patriots. “We have not discussed the matter with IMRO. After all, the decision by the parliamentary group was made Tuesday night and announced only Wednesday,” he said. 

He is admand that the only reason for Siderov’s behaviour is that his wish to be the leading candidate of the United Patrios in the European elections, is not going to materialize. 

Simeonov said NFSB will field its own candidates in the European elections and will not run together with the United Patriots coalition. 

The shocks in the nationalist coalition triggered reactions from the other groups in Parliament. 

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) believes that the governmentis “agonizing” and “the ongoing battle is for distribution of offices and financial influences”, to use the words of MP Elena Yoncheva. She said this government is a disaster for Bulgaria, is about to come down but will leave the country in catastrophe.

The floor leader of GERB, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said no party in the government coalition has declared that it is relinquishing power ahead of the end of the government’s four-year tenure. 

He said that there are differences in the coalition but it does not mean it is falling apart. 

He admitted that “the processes in the United Patriots cause concern” for GERB but they would like to discuss the situation directly with the Patriots – not through the news media. 

The leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), Moustafa Karadaiya, basically declined to comment on the UP tensions and said “divorces should be left to divorce lawyers”. RY/LN/