Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

Focus

Top Bulgarian MEP candidates already thinking of heading home

All the Bulgarian political parties finally have their lists ready for the EU vote on 25 May, but several of their top candidates either don't want to stay very long in Brussels, or don't want to go to the EU capital at all.

The latest polls put centre-right party Gerb in the lead (17.5 percent) followed by the socialists (15.2 percent), the Turkish minority party (6.5 percent) and the reformist bloc – a newly-formed rightist grouping – on 5.1 percent.

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  • Bulgaria's Parliament. A seat in the EP is seen as a reward or a place for politicians to retire (Photo: EUobserver)

The other two newly-formed parties – ABC of the socialist president Georgi Parvanov and the centre-right "Bulgaria without censorship" of ex-TV anchor Nikolay Barekov are polling respectively 4 percent and 5.2 percent.

The far-right Ataka has slid to around 2 percent.

According to political and poll analyses, the final results will be determined by three factors: the turnout, which is expected to be low; the large number of undecided voters; and the high threshold of 5.88 percent for access to the parliament.

GERB's list is headed by the current MEP Tomislav Donchev, who is one of two politicians who have said they will return to Bulgaria if they are needed more at home.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party's leader, Sergey Stanishev, is number one on the list, but he has already said he will not go to Brussels.

The Turkish Minority Party's first candidate is Feliz Husmenova – she is set for her third mandate at the European Parliament.

The leader of "Bulgaria with no censorship" has also said he will return home if there are early national elections.

However analysts suggest that not too much should be read into the comments as the political campaigns are in full swing and such decisions will only be taken when the election results are clear.

To date no Bulgarian MEP has returned to active politics at home, with the EP seat traditionally being viewed as either a retirement position or a reward.

One party leader with almost no chance of making it to the EU assembly is Volen Siderov of Ataka. The far-right politician has said the EU is pure evil and that it can bring "homosexuality, paedophilia and sodomy to your homes".

When asked why he is in principle willing to go to the "very heart of evil", he replied that he "can change this union from the inside".

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