Bulgaria’s minority party ‘not to work’ with nationalists

Bulgaria’s minority party ‘not to work’ with nationalists

SOFIA - Reuters
Bulgaria’s minority party ‘not to work’ with nationalists

HÖH leader Lütfi Mestan underlines there can’t be a coalition between his party and nationalist Ataka. ‘This would be an absolute distortion of policy’ he says. AA photo

Bulgaria’s minority party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HÖH), which is represented in Parliament and mostly depends on Turkish-origin Bulgarian citizens’ votes, declined to work with a nationalist party on May 14, scuppering chances of a broad coalition government and deepening the political stalemate in the European Union’s poorest country.

“There can’t be a coalition between HÖH and Ataka in any form,” party’s leader Lütfi Mestan told national radio station BNR. “This would be an absolute distortion of policy and I will not participate in this process.”
The nationalist Ataka has emerged as kingmaker after an inconclusive election on May 12. But its anti-Roma and anti-Turkish policies and pledges of nationalizations may alarm the EU and make it difficult for other parties to work with.

Other parties refuse to work with the largest group, the centre-right GERB, because of its tarnished reputation after it resigned from government in February but they are struggling to achieve a majority without it. Apart from GERB and Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the only other parties to win enough votes to enter the 240-seat Parliament were the HÖH, with 10.59 percent and the ultra-nationalist Ataka on 7.38 percent.

Facing early elections

If no group can secure a majority Bulgaria will have new elections - possibly in September - until when an interim government, which has kept debt low in the last three months, will stay in place. Turnout in the election was the lowest in Bulgaria’s post-communist history at 51 percent, reflecting deep discontent among many voters with a political class they view as corrupt and self-interested.