Monday, 1 June 2009

Only the nationalists care about European issues

The campaign for the European elections in Bulgaria has been quite apathetic so far. The campaigning has been mostly on TV - in the form of debates and video clips. The national TV is also covering the campaign events of all the parties which in most cases are indoor meetings with 20-50 spectators/party members. I myself saw a campaign poster in the streets of Sofia for the first time just yesterday. The elections are on Sunday and nothing shows this will change in the next five days.

The extremist "Ataka" (meaning "attack" in English) seems to be the only party using a slogan related to the European issues. The nationalists touch upon the enlargement question and surprise, surprise, their slogan reads "No Turkey in the EU". As biased as it is, this message is directly connected to the future of the European Union and concerns all the 27 member states.

The "ATAKA" poster reads: "That would've been the situation if not for us Bulgarians. Let's stop the fez (turbans) now again!"

The rest of the parties employ rather vague and mostly domestic-bred appeals. The party tipped to win most seats - GERB simply plagiarizes Obama - "Let's prove that Bulgaria CAN". Sounds funny in English and vague at best in Bulgarian. The Bulgarian Socialist Party, running second in the polls, is campaigning under the slogan "We protect the Bulgarian interests in Europe". Outrightly ridiculous appeal when we talk European elections. I guess their MEPs will still sit in the PES group and not try to form some Bulgarian group in the European parliament. And it's quite pretentious to claim such thing when the socialist-led government managed to get all the European funds for Bulgaria frozen because of numerous corruption scandals.

Now comes the interesting part - the party of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria (member of the ALDE EP group) employs the slogan "Give Trust, get Support and Security". The capital letters read the party abbreaviation - DPS in Bulgarian. That seems to the only idea behind that bunch of words. The centre-right Blue coalition, which is the last formation given chances to pass the electoral threshold obviously also decided to borrow from the American political experience. Their campaign moto is "It's time for the good (people)".

It's easy to reach a verdict - the political actors in Bulgaria perceive the European elections merely as a first tour of the domestic ones (to be held on July 5th). The parties refuse to fulfill their obligations to inform and "educate" the citizens about the real European issues and take the campaign as a chance to position themselves better for the elections that matter. Opinion polls predict a turnout of 35-40% but with such a "campaign" I doubt it will go far beyond the 28.9% the 2007 vote reached.


  1. I cannot believe Ataka have such a politically incorrect slogan. I don't even know how to react to it. Let's see if they will organize another week of intolerance in reponse to the LGBT rights issues.

  2. "Intolerant" and "politically incorrect" are the two words that describe Ataka's campaign the best. Still, the fact that they have a strict position on a question of European-wide importance and they provide arguments for it, can not be denied. I recently made an interview with an Ataka candidate and I'll post it here soon.