Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

NDSV is preparing for elections

Adelina Marini, January 6, 2011

Probably there is no more appropriate moment for a young party that took part in two consecutive governments, when it is in opposition outside parliament, to start reckoning on its mistakes and next steps. This is what the Bulgarian liberal party NDSV (established by the ex-tsar of Bulgaria Simeon Saxecobourggotta) is doing by announcing its ambitions for the presidential and local elections this year. The party has opened its election headquarters on January 3rd and its president this time would be the leader of the party herself - Ms Hristina Hristova. In the last days of 2010 the party held a National Council, during which party members discussed the main mistakes the party made so far.

From Hristina Hristova's statement it became clear that those mistakes were mainly two. The first was that during its participation in government the party had ignored the previous elections and did not take part in them. And the second was that the party did not manage to develop sufficiently well its structure around the country.

How will the NDSV take part in the presidential elections?

This is the question that remained not quite clear during the press conference the yellow party held on December 21st. What is certain is that the NDSV would participate in the elections and already has a vision what the main features the next Bulgarian president must have - to be economy-oriented and to be focused on jobs creation; to be liberal, useful and practical as a successor to the incumbent social president. To euinside's question whether, although the party did not want to speculate with names, they already had candidates that fit in these features, Hristina Hristova, Lyubomir Datsov and Iliya Lingorski refused to elaborate.

This forced euinside to ask whether that meant that the party would have a candidate of its own. To this question Ms Hristova said that during the party's National Council a lot of names were discussed but still the format of NDSV's participation in the elections was to be decided - whether the party would have a candidate of its own or would coalesce with other parties, or would support a candidate, nominated by civil organisations.

Various participation in the local elections

Regarding local elections, a poll held among party's structures shows that 30% want to take part in the elections alone, another 30% would prefer coalitions on a local level and the same number have no idea yet. The latter were given a deadline, by the end of February, to clear their ideas and propose names. With regard to coalitions, NDSV are aware that they have no place together with the DPS (the party of the ethnic Turks in Bulgaria) and the BSP (the socialist party) and that those were the two parties with which the NDSV did not want to coalesce. A firm refusal the party expressed to the idea of coalescing with the nationalist ATAKA party. This leads to an overall rethinking of the party's political inclinations - a transition from centrism toward centre-right policies.

This is why logical partners to her party, according to Hristina Hristova, would be the right-wing parties, meaning not only those that are currently in parliament. One of the arguments with which the former deputy minister of finance, Lyubomir Datsov, explained the right-wing inclination was that during the NDSV-led government of Simeon Saxecobourggotta the party led right policies, especially in terms of taxes.

The challenges of the Electoral Code

According to the NDSV decentralisation is a key to solving problems on a local level. But this is practically impossible because the government of the ruling party GERB is headed instead of giving more powers to local authorities, toward more power centralisation. Especially eloquent is the draft Electoral Code. It strongly restricts voters' rights to elect local leaders. The direct election of municipal mayors is also removed, instead of them receiving more powers to conduct local policies.

This is going to be the main challenge for the parties outside parliament, such as the NDSV. Hristina Hristova answered euinside's question on this occasion by saying that her party was extremely worried by the Electoral Code in its current form and that the party was prepared to appeal in the Constitutional court through the national Ombudsman. According to Lyubomir Datsov because of GERB's diminishing support it is clear that the party would do its utmost to rely more on its core voters and not like before - to mass support. He said though, that a much more important issue than the Electoral Code was the issue of Budget 2011, as well as the overall economic policy of the party (or more precisely the lack of such).

euinside argued that undoubtedly the issue of economic policy was very important but after all citizens should be able to elect more capable people and thus express their opinion in support or not of economic policies. In its campaign the NDSV would focus namely on economic policy and jobs creation.

Elections with a lot of obscurities

In fact, NDSV's conclusion, as well as the conclusions of the civil sector, is that the new Electoral Code restricts the rights of nearly one third Bulgarian citizens to vote. This is why it is very important NDSV to announce specific names of candidates whom the party would support at the presidential elections. The party is right to fear that putting into circulation names much before the elections creates risk of wasting them, but it is also a fact that this would give the party that new identity it so much needs in order to stand any chance for success at the two elections.

Otherwise it will seem that the yellow party is waiting for the announcement of the candidates of other parties in order to decide whom to support. Yes, it is true that in politics there are no extremities, but it is also true that when you are outside parliament but you have a good human potential you do not have many possibilities to offer this human potential opportunities to reveal itself. Even worse it would be if the NDSV would again coalesce with political forces society does not like. This is why if this party really wants to return to political stage and realise its ideas, it has to firmly and bravely make a step forward with announcing names. At least this is what this party is strong with - names, names of people who understand economic policy.

Still there are no concrete arrangements for the participation in the elections of other parties, in spite of the speculations with the names among big political forces, so for now we remain with very restricted Electoral Code and little choice.