Bulgaria's Nationalists Attack: Like Stepfather, Like Stepson
Bulgaria's largest nationalist party "Ataka", i.e. "Attack" – the only self-described nationalist formation with any tangible following – has seemingly started to fall apart.
Volen Siderov, the charismatic leader and founder of Ataka, is now seeing his highly trusted stepson, Member of the European Parliament Dimitar Stoyanov, turning against him, and demanding his resignation as a party leader.
Siderov's wife and Stoyanov's mother Kapka Siderova also appears to be part of what seems on the outside as a family drama at a party's commanding heights, as she has been sacked as the editor-in-chief of the Ataka newspaper. Thus, Siderov's inner circle is in shambles.
The "family scandal party crisis" might be the last straw in Ataka's descend into oblivion. The formation has lost 6 of its 21 MPs in Parliament in the past two years; an earlier scandal saw leader Siderov in a severe fight with Valeri Simeonov, the owner of the Burgas-based cable TV Skat that helped Siderov rise to prominence as a talk show host back in 2004-2005.
The latest scandal comes after Siderov's Ataka spend 2 years as a de facto informal ally of ruling party GERB and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, providing Borisov with a parliamentary majority until the PM got enough "independent" MPs backing him that Ataka's support is now no longer needed.
It has been during those two years that Siderov lost his "charm" as his fans saw him utter some words once every few months, as opposed to his incessant bashing of all sorts of political establishments, globalization, the West and Islam prior to 2009.
Make no mistake - the Ataka party, i.e. the "nationalist" vote that it can (or used to) control – is pretty important. Back in 2005 it got 12% of the votes becoming the fourth largest in terms of MPs; in 2006, Siderov made the run-off for the Bulgarian Presidency getting some 600 000 votes.
In the October 2011 elections, Siderov and Ataka got only about 100 000 votes – the result of his voters getting the rather correct idea that their leader had made a deal with Borisov's GERB.
In addition to being "in charge" of several hundred thousand Bulgarian voters, Ataka is key because of the nature of some of those voters whose inclination towards ethnic and religious violence came to the fore during the May 20 incident at the Banya Bashi mosque in downtown Sofia – a gruesome event widely seen as a provocation on part of Ataka to boost its ratings which apparently failed to achieve this goal.
Siderov is now losing the support of his stepson – a previously unthinkable development since he and Stoyanov have made it publicly clear how much they cherish one another.
Stoyanov is trying to convince everybody that he is rising against Siderov on principled grounds. But it is not unlikely that he made some sort of a deal with somebody else on the outside – the way his stepfather seems to have done in dealings with the ruling party – and is now rushing ahead into the "stepdynasty", and trying to gain the leadership post in the party sooner than he was slated to.
The first problem with this plan is that for many Volen Siderov equals Ataka and the other way around.
The second problem is the general problem of most political parties in Bulgaria since the late 19th century – the formation of a party based on a single personality that seriously questions its credibility and robustness once that person is gone – which is actually also the case with the ruling party GERB and its leader Boyko Borisov.
One thing is for certain – Siderov's Ataka party has been dealt a heavy blow, and the big question, whether it survives it or not, is who or what might replace it, and how unpredictable the new entity could be with respect to riding on the often destructive wave of self-perceived nationalists in Bulgaria combined the discontents of the countryside – i.e. people who for subjective or objective reasons are eager to "attack."