Банкеръ Weekly



- Mr. Sofiyanksi why didn't you join the Union of Democratic Forces'с parliamentary group after both sides expressed intention to do so?
- We have many similar positions, which was evident from the voting during the non-confidence motions as well as from many other instances. Both me and my colleagues from the Union of Free Democrats, Borislav Bulgaranov and Rumen Angelov, left the group of the Bulgarian National Union and thus our talks with the Union of Democratic Forces became more concrete. We discussed more details as well as a merger between Union of Democratic Forces and the Union of Free Democrats in a single party, not only as parliamentary groups. We continue our talks and our intentions are to keep working together until the end of this parliament's mandate. However, the Union of Democratic Forces is in the process of changes and a new chairman is expected to be elected in mid-December. Most probably, we will have to wait and see who the new leader wоuld be, what ideas as well as what attitude to forming coalitions he or she would have. Only then can we start negotiating a kind of merger between us.
- Do you support the proposition expressed by the Bulgarian New Democracy - all rightist parliamentary presented parties to form a single group?
- I find this proposition reasonable, because we will then be in position to act a lot more coordinated as an opposition. At present every party takes decisions within its own group and in many cases, regardless of the fact that the positions are basically the same, the alternative is not quite clear. Let we take for example the 2009 budget. I have always been focused on the municipalities, Ivan Kostov places his accent on the tax laws, while other groups are more interested in the healthcare legislation. This is how the opposition loses the overall picture. But when we are together, our criticism may develop into creating a new alternative budget. The same is true for the polling laws. We have some differences and it will be worth fixing them. We, of the Union of Free Democrats, carried out a survey among 32,000 people regarding the mandatory voting. Slightly more than half of the respondents said they would support a re-introduction of this legal requirement. Almost all of them, however, are in support of introducing of some or other features of the majority rep.
- Do they state what the threshold should be, because if it is rather high, the whole idea loses sense? The MEP polls showed that when the threshold was 1.5% it didn't have any affect.
- The threshold is not that important. The question is how many people will be voted directly. Our proposal is their number to be increased to the half of the MPs. A united opposition may defend its ideas more clearly, but the parameters must be preliminary fixed and stated. That is why I believe we have to have joint actions at least in Parliament.
- Irrespective of the fact that we have just left the parliamentary group of the Bulgarian National Union, could you work together with them again? For example with Anastasia Moser who is setting up a new party.
- The strategic partners for the Union of Free Democrats are the rightist formations and the agricultural unions.
- Which agricultural unions?
- The agriculture is a very important sector, and I defend their principles when I can. We have to understand that this sector can be one of our main advantages in the European Union. Now, on the question of which agricultural unions. We have very good relations with Mrs. Moser, we have kept them working and we can still work together in the future.
- It wasn't quite clear what was that thing you didn't like about the new coalition formed by the VMRO, Onward movement, that made you break you relations with them, apart from the statement that you don't want the decisions in the Bulgarian National Union to be dictated from outside?
- We were 12 MPs in the Bulgarian National Union. Eight of them are already part of Onward movement. The group thus turned out to have two centres, not to say that it was devoid of sense. After VMRO chairman Krasimir Karakachonov formed a coalition with the businessman Hristo Kovachki, of course he consulted further actions with me and I made consultations with him. It was quite normal that they should defend positions of a dominant party in the new coalition Leader, not the ones of the Bulgarian National Union. But it was also quite normal for us to leave in this case. This was not a matter of a conflict but of principles. I don't hide that we had talks with Mr. Kovachki, but there were very serious differences in our view, including what positions we are to defend in the next Parliament. The Union of Free Democrats expressly excludes any possibility of working together with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, while the new formation does not opt out this possibility. Our view on this question is not formed only on the base of ideological positions, it is the way the country is governed now that is inadmissible. It is a fact now that the leftist rule has reintroduced many of the communist traditions. Starting from the centralization, which takes the resources from municipalities and this is what the budget 2009 envisages, too. And reaching to the intelligence methods: eavesdropping, phone tapping and so on and so forth. All this is nothing but communism. As a result, Bulgaria as a member of the European Union, increases the distance between itself and the other EU member states instead of diminishing it.
- Can you reject a future partnership with the other two parties of the present coalition, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the Simeon II National Movement?
- Let us see what people would think of the these two formations at the next polls. They are now just subordinates to the Bulgarian Socialist Party. If there was no socialist party, they wouldn't be in the Government, either. Socialists are dominant in the ruling coalition and we opt them out as a partner. If the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the Simeon II National Movement continue working with them, of course we will opt them out, too. But as far as they are now a complete function of the socialists, there is nothing to comment about them.
- Would you take part in a future coalition with GERB?
- As you see we don't have any talks with them.
- But you have talks with the Union of Democratic Forces who are in talks with them.
- The Union of Free Democrats now don't have a clear idea what GERB is as a political formation, although they have been accepted as a member of the European People's Party. Up to now GERB don't have a clear ideological position, nor do they have a clear economic strategy. When I speak of a rightist political ideas, I mean economics as much as politics. To be a democrat means to defend an economic philosophy that envisages more freedom than state. That's it. Only those who manage to provide alternative to this government will come to power. I am an optimist that the rightist parties will form a union and will present a new way of ruling. When in 1997 we won the elections and removed from power the same people that are now ruling us, starting from Rumen Ovcharov and finishing with Emilia Maslarova, we, together with Ivan Kostov, had developed an alternative budget. When people saw the catastrophe, they understood they needed changes. Next years' weak budget, however, may lead to a very difficult situation in the winter.
- In order for the rightist formations to get united, is it essential the old leaders to step down and new faces to be sought after?
- Of course, you understand that the union is not between Stefan Sofiyanski and Ivan Kostov, for example. It is between the people. It is much more important knowledgeable people at local level to work together. In such situations, I think the union would be the most natural thing and it will come from the conferences, and the congresses.
- Do you think that there will be new play with the ethnic peace card until the end of the mandate of this government?
- This is something I don't find serious. Bulgaria is a small country. Although Macedonia is even smaller and does have such problems, I find it ridiculous to speak of such problems in Bulgaria. This is a debate that would lack imagination. It could only show that politicians want to avoid the real problems, hiding behind non-existing scandals. I also think that this topic is dangerous, and even if there is no ethnic tension, the mere speaking of it may provoke it.
- Have you renounced the idea of provoking polls ahead of time? Even the law forbids non-confidence motions less than six months before general elections.
- The weak budget may be a reason for the opposition to initiate such a procedure. Besides, people should know that the inflation set in this year's budget, too, will be very different from the real one.
Redistribution of a large state budget surplus at the end of the year does not help the sectors where the money goes to, but is a burden for the whole economy. If the opposition gets united we can have a second, very serious debate on the 2009 budget, because the problems will be felt very severely in January and February next year. Very severely, let us say.

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