GUESS WHO'LL COME TO LUNCH
It's not at all easy for the eight rightist parties in Bulgaria to nominate their common candidate for the presidential elections in the autumn. Everybody is keen to comment on the qualities of the future president, but the negotiating parties cannot personify him yet. Last Wednesday the working group gathered again, and afterwards the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) fired one more nominee into the public medium - the Rector of the New Bulgarian University Sergey Ignatov. The others observed a tactful silence.
The rightist parties' nominees for president and vice president will remain a secret at least until May 20, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) and the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) admitted as it became clear that the initially announced date - May 10 - might not be observed. The announcement of the candidate's name will be postponed because not all parties have proposed their nominees from which the negotiating persons and the public council should choose. Practically, the only official nominee by the middle of last week was that of Vesselin Metodiev. The others are only names, mentioned during talks and in the media.
Last Wednesday the press centre of Ivan Kostov's DSB flatly denied the information that there was a secret agreement between him and UDF's leader Peter Stoyanov, made at a still more secret lunch. The two parties' headquarters explicitly denied in front of the BANKER weekly that Mr. Kostov and Mr. Stoyanov have had a lunch, a dinner or breakfast together. Therefore, there is no truth in the publications that Peter Stoyanov is the name of their common candidate and Ivan Kostov will convince his deputy Vesselin Metodiev to become a vice president. For serious analysts and journalists, watching political processes, it is obvious that
Peter Stoyanov cannot be
an unifying candidacy for the rightist parties, DSB's announcement reads.
In fact, the rumour that Mr. Stoyanov and Mr. Kostov have dined together could pass for a piece of news. But it will hardly cause any sensation, let alone a real improvement of the rightist parties' political health. Still two weeks ago when the conspiratorial publications about the forthcoming rendezvous appeared, politicians of sound judgement commented that Ivan Kostov would agree to such a painful experience only in public if the negotiating parties arrive at a common candidacy. Mr. Kostov will probably give a common press conference with Mr. Stoyanov is order to consolidate the right electorate in favour of the common couple for the presidential elections, both DSB and UDF insiders believe.
However, that moment may never come if no unifying personality is nominated for the presidential elections. At least currently, there is no such outlook. As the BANKER has already written, none of the two prominent rightist leaders would agree to be an opponent to the incumbent President Georgi Parvanov in the autumn. The more far-seeing members of the negotiating team have turned their eyes towards business circles and the professional, not the political elite. The future candidate of the rightist parties will personify
the alternative to the leftists
not only as a political orientation, but as a professional experience as well. It will be a successful man (or woman) despite the difficulties of the transition, the Socialists' several governments, the dictatorship of strong-arm groups, and the circles of firms.
For political commentators it is difficult to forecast if DSB will be more pliant this time as to withdraw their nominee Vesselin Metodiev if the balance tips to a more appropriate candidate. For the time being there are no clear indications that Mr. Kostov would repeat the experience from the partial local vote for the Sofia mayor and would insist on a player, nominated by his own party.
However, the rightist parties are behaving in front of the media
like a good English family
where there is no raise of voice and decency is kept in public.
Even if DSB had cherished hopes they could convince half of the eight rightist parties to back Mr. Metodiev's candidacy, they did not venture to make their hopes public. The Democratic Party might support its former member because of good feelings towards Ivan Kostov and with a view to its own political future. Anastasia Mozer has too many problems with Borislav Kitov in the battle for the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU)-People's Union (PU) in order to venture worsening the relations with her parliamentary partners Stefan Sofianski and Krassimir Karakachanov. Several weeks ago the Union of Free Democrats added confusion to the negotiations by saying Ivan Kostov was the best nominee according to them.
UDF's partners from the party of Yani Yanev and Georgi Markov made their contribution to the mess by not seizing to talk that Peter Stoyanov should compete with President Parvanov in the autumn. The same day when DSB denied that their leader had agreed with Mr. Stoyanov on his candidacy, the leader of Order, Lawfulness, Justice, Georgi Markov gave an interview for a daily newspaper, appealing to Peter Stoyanov to seek a revenge and take part in the presidential race. Rightist politicians immediately disclosed the intrigue. A publication owned by UDF's coalition partner Lyuben Dilov-son circulated the news that Peter Stoyanov would be the future candidate of the rightist parties. Mr. Kostov's adherents saw in that an attempt to frustrate the single presidential candidature of the rightist parties. In fact, in DSB's headquarters there is talk that coincidences are not at all accidental.
And all that is left to rightist sympathizers is to sadly remember the past.