At the end of a seven-hour meeting on January 22, the Congress of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) voted not to accept the resignation of Kornelia Ninova as party leader, submitted after the BSP’s disastrous fourth place finish in the November 2021 snap general election Choose.
Her resignation was voted on with 415 votes against, 164 votes in favor and 20 abstentions.
In a policy report to Congress, Ninova, who has led the party to a string of defeats since 2016, blamed the Covid-19 pandemic, universal machine voting and her enemies within the party for the 2021 election failures.
That voting was done solely through the use of machines has kept BSP voters from going to polling stations, as have fears about the pandemic, she said. The BSP supported 100 percent machine voting, but that stance should be reconsidered, Ninova said.
Noting that the party had become part of the four-sided coalition government formed in December as a success, she claimed that it had been accepted as a “party of change,” not just because its votes were needed to put that government into office bring. In the coalition government, Ninova is one of the deputy prime ministers and holds the economics department.
One of those opposed to Ninova, Valeri Zhablyanov, dismissed Ninova’s arguments, saying that the party’s electoral collapse dates to the 2019 local elections, before the pandemic and universal machine voting, and was a direct result of her leadership.
Krum Zarkov, who had intended to run as Ninova’s only rival for the leadership if her resignation had been accepted, said that Congress delegates were “beamed with absolute nonsense” by Ninova’s remarks.
“The failure of the elections is portrayed as a success because we are in power,” Zarkov said.
He ridiculed the claim that the BSP had been invited to be part of the government for anything other than their votes.
Referring to a petition filed by the BSP Blagoevgrad branch not to accept Ninova’s resignation, Zarkov said that if the resignation were not accepted, “this farce is another, if not the final, nail in the coffin of public image.” the GNP will be”.
In the media-public part of the congress, most delegates spoke out in favor of Ninova. Among them was Emilia Zhilieva, a delegate from Lyaskovets, who told the congress: “We need a leader and a fighter like Comrade Ninova”.
In the morning, Congress voted against suspending proceedings to allow delegates to attend the second inauguration of President Roumen Radev, who won re-election in 2021 after first winning the presidential election by a Socialist-backed ticket in 2016. In recent years, Ninova and Radev have been at odds.
Sergei Stanishev, a former BSP leader and former prime minister, told Bulgarian national radio on January 22 that the congress “must make it clear whether we are rescuing the leader or the BSP”.
Later, on the sidelines of the congress, Stanishev told Bulgarian National TV that if the congress doesn’t accept Ninova’s resignation and prepare to elect a successor, “the party will become a laughing stock.”
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