Bulgaria, nationalism centered on social questions ” “

Ataka, that supports the government, denounces "foreign colonialism" " "

A large group of young men dressed in black surrounds the leader standing on an improvised stage in front of the Palace of Justice in Sofia. Numerous flags with green backgrounds bear the words “Give us back Bulgaria”. The agitated leader addresses the public, using aggressive language. His name is Volen Siderov, the leader of the nationalist party “Ataka”. In 2005, when the newly created movement entered the Bulgarian parliament for the first time, with 8,1% of all votes, Siderov shouted to MPs that “politicians are a bunch of grunting pigs”. Nearly nine years later, his extravagant performances no longer give rise to a stir. “Former journalist and a good communicator, Siderov knows very well how to hit front news. He doesn’t care that many do not approve of his behaviour. All he needs is the sympathy of 7 to 8 per cent of voters” vote, remarked political analyst Boris Popivanov to SIR Europe. No to “Turkey’s expansionism”. Many sensational events saw the participation of the leader of Ataka and his followers over the years. Siderov forced the lock of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, he shouted at the President of the Republic and messed up a meeting of the National Security Council. His MPs stormed in national television stations expressing their disagreement with programs during which Ataka was being criticized. One of the most significant events remains the clash with the Muslims during their Friday prayer, in 2011, deteriorated into a commotion, with casualties on both sides. According to Stanislav Stanilov, Ataka MP, “some currents in Turkey are promoting a policy of expansionism towards Bulgaria while there are too many mosques in the country”. The nationalist MP also pointed out: “We are not against minorities, nor against the Roma, but we want to defend the interests of the Bulgarians”. Government support. In fact, since 2005 Ataka has always managed to gain parliament seats: at the first European elections after EU membership in 2007, the party gained three seats in Strasbourg, two seats in 2009. In the 2013 parliamentary elections the Nationalists turnout was of 7.4%, with about twenty MPs, thereby becoming essential for the government coalition, given that the Socialists and the Turkish minority party don’t have enough seats to govern alone. “In European seats it is believed that it is not a good thing to partner with nationalist parties – Popivanov pointed out – but in Bulgarian reality there is a different perception”. According to the political expert, Siderov recently changed approach, “as he realized that pointing the finger at minorities is not credible”. Foreign “colonialists”. That’s why lately nationalists have been devoting great importance to the social situation, denouncing “the exploitation carried out by foreign colonialists”. “The Siderov plan- against the colonial yoke” is the title of the Ataka’s government program. Stanilov is among the authors. “We want to abolish income tax by 10%, equal for all, and introduce higher taxes for the rich”, the MP said. Ataka members promise to increase the income of Bulgarians and denounce large multinationals that administer municipal services such as electricity, heating, water, “with huge profits that they bring abroad, robbing the Bulgarian citizens”. In their view, these services should be run at national level. Patriotism and values. “We’re a traditional patriotic party. Christian values are very important to us”, Siderov said recently, noting that “the EU must start anew with new standards, this time without omitting explicit reference to the Christian roots that must be the pillar of ‘Union. ” According to the leader Siderov, “Bulgaria’s contribution to the budget in Brussels is higher than all European funds received”. Towards European elections. To gain the nationalists’ votes, who are known to identify with the left-wing, citizens disappointed by traditional parties, or ex-military from small and medium urban centres, other two political groups will run in May’s elections: the National Front for the Liberation of Bulgaria, branched off from Ataka, led by Valeri Simeonov, Siderov’s former business partner, owner of Skat TV channel, where Ataka began. At the 2013 parliamentary elections the Front fell short of entering the Parliament, while it represents 3.5% of all votes, according to recent surveys. Vmro, the other nationalist party, has an old-dated tradition, created for the defence of Macedonia territories, a part of which was claimed by Bulgaria before Communist rule. Popivanov claims that “after EU adhesion the country is lacking purpose, and patriotism seeks other ways out”. He added: “traditionalist parties should stop courting nationalist movements and find other ways for Bulgaria as a people, along with development strategies. People aren’t stupid, and they will opt for rational policies”.

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