Bulgaria's 2011 Presidential Race: Same Old Song?
The announcement of ex-EU Commissioner Meglena Kuneva's bid for the fall presidential elections in Bulgaria has provoked comments from political competitors that throw negative light on the nature of pre-election debate.
Even at the early stages of the race, one might well get the feeling that instead of a substantive discussion among differing visions of their country's future, Bulgarians will get the low-level black political PR and name-calling they must have long been fed up with.
Instead of a discussion of Kuneva's merits and shortcomings as a politician and as a possible head of state, we were reminded of her marriage to the son of Ivan Pramov, a high-level functionary of the Bulgarian Communist Party during the pre-1989 regime, as if that mattered. (For the record, Kuneva's own father and grandfather have been sent to labor camps by the regime.)
Then Monday and Tuesday we had co-leaders of the rightist Blue Coalition calling Kuneva a creature of the much reviled three-way coalition that ruled Bulgaria 2005-9, and of incumbent President Georgi Parvanov, who was instrumental in the coalition formation process.
The fact is that Kuneva's political career was launched by Simeon Saxe-Coburg's liberal National Movement for Stability and Prosperity, one of the three coalition partners.
Another fact is that the myth of the three-way coalition as the Source of All Evil in Bulgaria was created by current PM Boyko Borisov and has been inexorably repeated by his political lapdogs, in large part to cover up their own shortcomings.
Two years of Borisov's center-right GERB cabinet in, it is plain that the coalition cabinet vastly exceeded it in terms of average competence and adherence to democratic governance.
A more specific explanation for the Blues' behavior in linking Kuneva to the three-way coalition would be the desire to hide a much talked about unprincipled rapprochement on their own part with the coalition's junior partner, the controversial ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
As things stand, the former EU Commissioner's vow to stand for reason and debate against what she sees as political wrangling and lack of vision might be a good start that could position her well among her competitors.
But as the promised to offer real alternatives does not equal actually having offered such, Kuneva needs to start seriously fleshing out her visions with content.
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