>Bulgaria’s euro-elections: another dose of ‘centrist populism’?


Bulgaria’s incoming Euro-election results are interesting, but not totally surprising. Initial reports suggest they had been won by the Turkish minority party Movement for Rights and Freedom. But despite polling well just over 20% of the poll – probably due to the fact that admit a derisory turnout (26%) it was roughly twice as better at mobilizing as all others – it is the ruling Socialists (ex-communists) and the newly formed Movement for the European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) who come out on top, each with an estimated 21% of the vote. The once all-conquering Simeon II National Movement (NDSV) gets hammered and continues its political decline, while the far-right Ataka increases support to 14%, although given voter absenteeism and disillusion this doesn’t strike me as a huge breakthrough. The story, which for me is the political breakthough of GERB led by former mayor of Sofia Borrisov, which although tinged with more than a dose of populism seems set take over as the main force on the liberal centre/centre-right in Bulgaria, a role previously played by the Union of Democratic Forces (aka United Democratic Forces) and the NSDV. Apart from showing that being the capital’s mayor can be a good springboard for forming a new party in a fluid system and/or a presidential bid (think Lech Kaczynski in Poland, Basescu in Romania), it seems to yet another example of what as been termed ‘centrist populism’, the rise of broad liberal reformist middle of the road parties trumpeting their newness, European-ness and lack of corruption, which appear from nowhere and then rapidly exhaust themselves in office – this seems a particularly marked trend in the Baltic, where (at least in Latvia and Estonia) there is no strong communist successor party to anchor the left (whatever that happens to mean) of the political spectrum. Indeed, perhaps this ‘centrist populism’ pattern is the future of the centre-right in many CEE states – and thinking of France, where centre-right parties and sub-parties have emerged, merged and re-(e)merged since at least the 1960s perhaps this is not actually just an innovative or unknown pattern.
Predictably, there is scanty immediate information on the the party in English, although Bulgarian radio has two brief informative overview reports on its foundation – here and here. I guess one could painstakingly build up a mosaic from diverse English languages sources, but somehow I think it might be quicker to learn Bulgarian…

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