Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

THE INCARNATIONS OF BULGARIAN SOCIAL LIBERALISM

The idea of the social-liberal model of government was born long ago, in 1994. Then, in a sequence of discussions within the leadership of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) regarding the possible coalition policy of the party on the threshold of the inevitable pre-term elections, it was launched by Ms. Nora Ananieva and Mr. Georgi Parvanov, although in a completely different context from the current one. Mr. Parvanov's thesis was that the socialist party should aim at a broad coalition government of the country. Mr. Zhan Videnov's deputy then saw the social-liberal government as participation of leftist and rightist, social and liberal formations in the counrty's ruling, but necessarily nationally responsible political forces, some of which could be quite right of BSP ideologically.After shaking off free from the shock, resulting from the fiasco of its government in 1996-1997, BSP's new-old leadership turned back to the social-liberal scheme. Thus, the second stage of the evolution of social liberalism the Bulgarian way, interpreted as a political partnership and coalition ruling between BSP and the ethnical Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), began in 1999. But both in 1999 and now the social-liberal union between BSP and MRF is impossible as a principle policy, it can be only a new political combination in order to step into power, which needs to be legitimized again. As it is well-known, such alliances are by rule unstable and non-durable. The example of MRF's decisive assistance for Mr. Parvanov's victory in the 2001 presidential elections could be interpreted as an argument in favour of the opposite stance, but it should be born in mind that the then rare concurrence of circumstances would hardly be ever repeated again. Anyway, the weaknesses of the social-liberal formula of 1999 are obviously realized today by both BSP and MRF to a certain extent. The circumstances have also changed: BSP has been out of the government (at least officially) for eight years now, while MRF has been in power and obviously intends to remain there. Considering the risks of a short circuit in a ruling tandem between BSP and MRF, the making up of the social-liberal model of government has come to its third stage. A third partner is sought here and it will be probably found in the person of part of the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII). We are presently on the threshold of a new, epochal, political invention - monarcho-social liberalism.Indeed, the presence of the former king (whose future role is not yet known) and of several yuppies from London makes a rare mess. And most of the Bulgarians who haven't got the faintest idea of what social liberalism is, will have a good reason to say no such a thing exists on earth. In a recent interview for the Reuters BSP Leader Sergey Stanishev has openly confirmed the possibility of setting a future coalition between BSP, MRF and NMSII, on condition their targets coincide. It is yet to see which targets Mr. Stanishev referred to and how they would be dressed in the new social-liberal garments of the king (pardon, the Premier). So, social liberalism the Bulgarian way has not yet said its final say. However, it could be already seen that NMSII is too heteregeneous in its liberality. It is sufficient to follow the development of the Government's over-praised social projects, such as the one called From Social Assistance to Employment, which finally reached their logical end. Therefore, NMSII is not very likely to introduce more social-liberal moderation by joining the BSP-MRF tandem.

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