Bulgarian Nationalist Leader Tells Expats to Stop Badgering

Politics » DOMESTIC | May 4, 2016, Wednesday // 09:00
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Nationalist Leader Tells Expats to Stop Badgering Nationalist leader Valeri Simeonov has described Bulgarians abroad who protest the new restrictions on polling stations as "a handful of Sorosoids". File photo, BGNES

A row emerged on Tuesday between Valeri Simeonov, the co-chair of nationalist Patriotic Front coalition, and a representative of Bulgarians abroad over Electoral Code amendments.

Bulgarian nationals living in the West held demonstrations in several European cities to protest government plans (initially approved by Parliament) to ban the opening of polling stations outside diplomatic missions. After continuous demonstrations and a domestic outcry, the political leaders partly backtracked.

But a Bulgarian activist living in the United States told private BiT television she had received a "warning" email from Simeonov.

Right after a protest was held in front of the Bulgarian Consulate in New York last week, Simeonov asked Elena Hambardzhieva if the Bulgarian community was just trying to be "more different" and "more exotic" to gain media attention.

He accused Bulgarians based in US and Canada of not adding enough to the voter turnout:

"Could you have heard of the 136 polling stations opened in TUrkey by the time the new Electoral Code was accepted which poured in between 60 000 and 100 000 votes?"

"Could you have heard that 8000 Bulgarians in the US in Canada voted in the last [Bulgarian] general election, while the other 200-300 000 were out to pick mushrooms?"

"You have not... But as no-one prevents you from arranging your personal life at your convenience, do not badger s as we are trying to find a solution to 25-year problems created by rootless politicians and rootless, whimsical, pseudo-compatriots."

Simeonov has maintained the restrictions on polling stations would curtail the mass vote from Bulgarian nationals living in Turkey who over the years have cast ballots largely for the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), a party that many of its opponents liken to a corporate structure using its political weight for its own needs.

But Bulgarians abroad maintain that they are being deprived of their voting options by opening stations where expat communities are most populous - especially in the light of other election law amendments that have made voting compulsory. In an email to Simeonov, Bulgarians abroad remind him many of them are still taxpayers contributing BGN 3 B (around EUR 1.5 B) to the Bulgarian economy on an annual basis.

More than two million Bulgarian nationals are thought to have left the country after Communism ended in 1989. According to the latest statistics data, Bulgaria's population is currently around 7.1 million.

Simeonov admitted to having sent the email.

News website Dnevnik.bg quotes him as saying he stands behind every word he wrote.

"I cannot allow a handful of Sorosoids to badger us while we are trying to solve important problems," Simeonov noted.

He added the President, whom Bulgarians abroad urge to veto the restrictions, should "finally show he is President of the Bulgarians and not President of Bulgarians abroad."

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Tags: Valeri Simeonov, Patriotic Front, electoral code, polling stations, turkey, US, canada

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