Bulgaria's Socialists Battle over Backing Ex EU Commissioner for President - Report
Meglena Kuneva, Bulgaria's former EU Commissioner in 2007-2010, may end up receiving wide political support for a potential bid in the 2011 presidential elections, according to reports.
Kuneva, who will most likely be the candidate of the National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, the party of ex Bulgarian Tsar and ex PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg that did not make it to the Parliament in 2004, may also be supported by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms), i.e. all three partners in the former three-way coalition ruling the country in 2005-2009.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party, the largest opposition formation, is currently seeing heated internal debates as to who would be its runner for the presidency after its former chair, President Georgi Parvanov, is now at the end of his second term.
Kuneva's nomination – even though she is not affiliated with the Socialists – is said to be favored by former Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev, a report of Mediapool indicates.
At the same time, the political project of President Parvanov "ABV" ("Alternative for Bulgarian Revival") that was first started in November 2010 has failed to gain any public support, which is why Parvanov is said to be trying to influence the choice of the Socialist Party with Blagoevgrad Mayor Kostandin Paskalev being his favorite for a nominee.
Mediapool indicates that Stanishev and Parvanov are currently tangled in a severe fight over the Socialist presidential nominee, with Parvanov insisting on a leftist candidate, i.e. Paskalev, and Stanishev demanding a "wider" option, i.e. Kuneva. Kostadin Paskalev, a former minister in the Saxe-Coburg government of 2001-2005 (even though he never belonged to Saxe-Coburg's NMSP party), has been an outspoken critic of Sergey Stanishev.
Reports indicate that Stanishev carried out an internal poll inside the Socialist Party. The party members were asked to pick a presidential bidder from among four ministers in the former Cabinet – Meglena Plugchieva (ex deputy PM in charge of EU funds), Plamen Oresharski (ex Finance Minister), Ivaylo Kalfin (ex Foreign Minsiter), and Stefan Danailov (ex Culture Minister and popular actor) – and from Blagoevgrad Mayor Kostadin Paskalev and ex EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.
The polls showed that only Stefan Danailov, Meglena Kuneva, and Kostadin Paskalev could hope for success. As Danailov is reported to have refused to run, the Socialists are choosing between Paskalev and Kuneva.
A meeting of the BSP, DPS, and NMSP – the former three-way coalition – is said to have taken place a couple of weeks ago to discuss a joint candidate for the presidency designed to oppose the policies of the ruling center-right party GERB of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov with Kuneva being the most obvious choice.
No presidential nominations have been declared yet.
The reports also indicate that after completing his second term as President in January 2012, Georgi Parvanov might try to regain his position as the leader of the Socialists since his project for a new movement ABV did not really work out.
The date on which Bulgaria will hold together presidential and local elections in the fall of 2011 has not been set yet but it will most likely be November 5.
The Bulgarian Presidency is largely representative and ceremonial but it can wield certain influence boosted by the fact that the president is elected directly rather than by the legislature as in other parliamentary republics.
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