Elections 2009 - Parties

Ataka

HISTORY

The Bulgarian political party Ataka (meaning "Attack" in Bulgarian) was set up on April 17, 2005, and was officially registered in court in July 2005.

Ataka defines itself as a nationalistic and patriotic force; however, it is most often described as far-right, extreme nationalist, and even neofascist. Since its founding, the party has been chaired by Volen Siderov, a former journalist and popular TV host. Siderov's talk show "Ataka" on the SKAT cable TV was instrumental in the creation of the party.

"Ataka" participated in the Bulgarian Parliament Elections in June 2005 as the National Union "Ataka". The Union was formed by the National Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland, the Bulgarian National Patriotic Party, the Union of Patriotic Forces and Reservist Officers, and the political party "Ataka".

The coalition was created just two months before the elections, because Ataka's registration as a political party in court was delayed, and it was not able to participate in the elections by itself.

In June 2005, Ataka (then running as a coalition of a few marginally known parties) received 8,2% (297 000 votes) in the Parliamentary Elections, coming in fourth, and got 21 MPs in the 240-seat Bulgarian Parliament.

After that, however, the parliamentary group of the party was shattered by internal dissent, rows, and scandals, which led to the expelling of many of its members, eventually reducing the group to 11 MPs.

In May 2007, Ataka came in forth in Bulgaria's first ever European Parliament Elections with 14,20% (275 000 votes), and got 3 MEPs.

Ever since it rose to prominence in 2005, Ataka and its leader, Volen Siderov, have been very active in staging mass street rallies on various occasions; Siderov himself is recognized as a very efficient orator.

IDEOLOGY/SOCIAL BASE

Ataka's two program documents, the "20 Principles" and the "Program Scheme" feature a number of nationalistic characteristics. They define Bulgaria as a one-nation state and assert the supremacy of the state and the "Bulgarian nation" above ethnic and religious diversity. Ataka calls for active participation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in legislative work and in all important government decisions as well as the teaching of the Church's doctrine in primary school.

The "20 Principles" envisage formulating a crime of "national betrayal" and criminal prosecution of "national traitors". Ataka has so far called most of the present-day politicians, human rights and minority rights activists, "national traitors". Ataka also demands sanctions for defamation of the "Bulgarian national sacraments" and for "slurs" against Bulgaria. It has been debated in Bulgaria whether Ataka is a right-wing or left-wing party (in Bulgaria, anti-establishment and anti-Western slogans have been traditionally associated with the left). Ataka members themselves say the movement is "neither left, nor right but Bulgarian".

Ataka condemns the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) as being corrupt, and an instrument of Turkey's influence and penetration in Bulgaria as well as in the EU. Its leaders often speak of the danger of "Islamization" of Europe.

Ataka is opposed to NATO, the Iraq War, and closer ties with the USA. It is not against Bulgaria's EU membership but has strongly demanded a revision of some of the accession arrangements (like the shutting down of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant).

Some scholars consider inaccurate Ataka's description as "fascist" as the party's platform does not really include any characteristics of fascism.

Ataka's main slogan is "Let's bring Bulgaria back to Bulgarians!" Its slogan for the 2009 European Elections campaign is "No to Turkey in EU".

Ataka's ideas and fiery rhetoric has been found to appeal mostly to those Bulgarians below the middle class, the lower educated, people from small towns, elderly people, and some former lower-ranking military and police officers.

ELECTORAL RECORD

In June 2005, Ataka (then running as a coalition of a few marginally known parties) received 8,2% (297 000 votes) in the Parliamentary Elections, coming in fourth, and got 21 MPs in the 240-seat Bulgarian Parliament.

In May 2007, Ataka came in forth in Bulgaria's first ever European Parliament Elections with 14,20% (275 000 votes), and got 3 MEPs.

INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL AFFILIATION

In 2007, Ataka was part of the "Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty" group in the European Parliament, a far-right formation of 23 MEPs from 6 European states - 7 from National Front (France), 5 from Greater Romania, 1 independent MEP from Romania, 3 from Flemish Interest (Belgium), 3 from Ataka (Bulgaria), 1 from Social Alternative (Italy), 1 from Trocolour Flame (Italy), 1 from Freedom Party (Austria), and 1 independent from the UK.

The formation of the ITS group was made possible by the accession of Bulgaria and Romania on January 1, 2007, and the inclusion of their nationalistic MEPs which brought the total number of far-right MEPs to 23 - above the minimum of 20 required to set up a Parliamentary Group.

The ITS Group, however, fell apart in November 2007, as the Greater Romania pulled out of it as the Italian MEP, Alessandra Mussolini (Benito Mussolini's granddaughter) made insulting comments about Romanians.





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