Will Civil Movements Displace Political Parties?

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One of the most asked questions in recent times is whether the "Toxic Trio" would found a party? Its three representatives – Prof. Velislav Minekov, lawyer Nikolay Hadzhigenov and PR expert Armand Babikyan avoided giving a specific answer. For, on the one hand, the energy of summer protests should not be left wasted but should be concentrated and used to achieve the goals set. On the other hand, however, Bulgarian citizens feel disgusted about the political formations that made our transition to democracy so difficult and distorted.

The systemic Bulgarian parties seem to be in crisis. They screwed up. New projects that are trying to somehow distinguish themselves from them seem to be gaining speed. At the same time, the proportion of people who say they will not vote is increasing after this rate was lowered over the summer. That is, these people do not recognize any of the formations now existing on the political stage as a defender of their rights and interests.

GERB and BSP froze in parity and this was confirmed by all polling agencies. Today, GERB seems to be the most undesirable coalition partner despite its still leading place. The protests have unleashed a negative trend for the party and in practice it has pinned around its hard core.

The situation with the largest opposition formation, the BSP, is no worse. Despite the categorical direct election of a leader, the ongoing internal reforms and the most clearly stated goal – to win the upcoming elections, it has never managed to break away from its hard-line electorate and attract the periphery.

The explanation in this case should be limited neither to the accumulated negativity towards Boyko Borisov and GERB after their 10-year mismanagement, nor to the fear of communists who may return to power. The disgust of the systemic political parties is mainly due to the fact that

they not only failed, they also degenerated.

GERB is quite far from the classic definition of a party. The same can be said for the MRF and in some respects for the BSP. The formations on the right are not worse.

During the so-called democratic transition, parties, representing organizations with a chairman and collective leadership, defending the interests of certain social strata, turned into authoritarian sects. A party oligarchy was formed at their tops instead of party elite, privatizing the whole organization and using it only to its advantage and pleasing – material and powerful. Over the years, the party establishment has stopped listening to the party regular members. It stopped taking care of them, complying with them, consulting with them. The party dialogue is gone. It's all in the hands of an authoritarian leader and his close surroundings. Thus, a party and a party member became dirty words in our country, arousing only abomination and hatred. That's why it wasn't a big surprise when, over the weekend, "The Toxic Trio" made it clear that it did not intend to make a party to

so as not to waste the awakened civic energy.

Speaking of the nearly 4-month of anti-government protests between the Presidency, the Council of Ministers and the new building of the National Assembly (formerly the Party House), Armand Babikyan explained the following: "We had to be with people whom we are ideologically different from. We realized that we were there because we were not left or right, but because there was vertical pressure on democracy and justice. If we had stood for our personal views, we would have driven two-thirds out of the square."

According to him, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is experienced in dividing people "so that he can solemnly drive along the highway". That's why something needs to be done to bring them together, because only together can they intimidate corrupt power and chase it away. Since the peaceful protests failed to bring it down and did not force Borisov to resign, it is now necessary that the attention and the forces focus on the parliamentary elections, whenever they may be. We should not only vote en masse, but also need

to ensure integrity of the elections in any way,

and prevent the authorities from falsifying and manipulating them. This can happen when many people unite with the idea of monitoring and controlling the course of voting and counting the votes in each polling station.

"First, we will make a serious attempt to form a broad coalition. We are founding civic committees across the country to join such a coalition. We are pleased to work with "Democratic Bulgaria", with "Stand Up.BG", with the party of Slavi Trifonov… Ensure the overall integrity of the election is far-fetched, but we’ll do our best to try to reduce the distortion of the election. We have the resources to do it if we gather more formations together, because there is no political force that has the opportunity to cover all sections in the country outside GERB ", Babikyan noted.

It seems the Trio is trying to expand what Maya Manolova did with the Civic Platform "Stand Up.BG". Smaller parties, civic associations, NGOs, both on the left and right spectrum gathered around it in the local elections for Sofia mayor. The idea was to try to pluck Sofia city hall from GERB’s hands. They did not have the strength (and the cohesion) but it was clear that

the foundations for common action must be maintained

and used in the coming parliamentary elections. That is why Manolova avoided the establishment of a new party and today, however difficult it may be not to be identified with BSP, she and Stand Up.BG are trying to build a partner network of organizations and citizens who are against the current government and for a change of the vicious model.

It’s not an easy task, as a delicate balance must be kept in order not to drive away any of the potential partners who do not necessarily think the same but have the same goal. Otherwise, following the example of NMSS, two small parties can always be found to form a coalition which concentrates the possibilities and forces of a broad alliance.

It is true that Tsvetan Tsvetanov established a party but he stressed on several occasions that it would not be a leadership one, which should mean decisions will be taken by the broad leadership in which the structures of the country are represented. Apparently, the former second in GERB makes great efforts to distinguish himself from the model of one-man leadership created by Boyko Borisov.


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