Heard in Europe

Incumbent PES President has no competitor, and is likely to be reelected as President of the Party of European Socialists (PES) later this year.

Stanishev, a former Bulgarian Prime minister (2005-2009), was elected to the post in 2012, but had taken the job already in 2011 when his predecessor, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, stepped down on short notice.

At that time, it appeared that a young pro-European leader from a new EU member state would be a good choice to lead the centre-left political family.

Stanishev kept his position as leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party until mid-2014, when it was obvious that the coalition in which BSP was the senior partner would lose power.

On 5 October, 2014, early parliamentary elections were held and BSP obtained 15.4%, the worst result in the party’s history.

Undoubtedly, the main reason was that voters associated Stanishev with the unsuccessful attempt to appoint Delyan Peevski, a shady power broker, as chief of the country’s national security agency. Many Socialists in Bulgaria blame Stanishev for having pushed it from the centre to the periphery of the country’s politics.

As many see it, Stanishev escaped from national politics already when he chose to lead the list of BSP in the European elections. As a preferential vote was introduced for the first time, he was elected second from a total of four BSP MEPs.

At that time, Stanishev said that he wouldn’t take the MEP job and that he only lead the list for assuming political responsibility over the election. Asked if he would take his MEP job, he kept the secret to the very end, until the last day of June, when elected MEPs could still register.

Stanishev may be a loser at home and even a fugitive from his own country, but he is widely expected to be reelected as PES President. The reason is that apparently nobody wants the job. It is assumed that the PES leader should be a former PM, and no such leader, not even former Belgian PM Elio Di Rupo, is reported to be interested in taking over.


Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia. Published under a Creative Commons license.

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