Sergei Stanishev was re-elected on 12 June as President of the Party of European Socialists (PES), the second largest European political family, after the other candidate, Enrique Bar?n Crespo, withdrew from the competition just before the vote.
Bar?n Crespo, a Spanish Socialist and former President of the European Parliament, tweeted that he withdrew from the race after realising that a majority at the PES congress in Budapest wanted to continue with the current leadership.
Judging to reactions in social media, Bar?n Crespo’s move shocked his supporters, who had hoped to see him replace Stanishev, a former Bulgarian Prime Minister who had led PES since 2011.
The vote clearly showed that Stanishev did not get massive support even as a single candidate. Out of 407 votes cast, he received 269. 67 voted against Stanishev.
The PES congress also elected the rest of its leadership, a balance of women and men, hailing from geographically diverse regions of Europe. The Secretary General will remain Achim Post (SPD, Germany) and the Vice Presidents are Jean-Christophe Cambadélis – Leader, PS France, Carin Jämtin – Secretary General, SAP Sweden, Katarina Nevedalova – International Secretary, SMER-SD Slovakia and Jan Royall – Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Labour UK. The Treasurer will be Ruairi Quinn, TD – Irish Labour.
The day before, Zita Gurmai (Hungary) was re-elected as head of the European Socialists women’s organization (PES Women) at the PES Women annual conference, also held in Budapest. Gurmai was an MEP until the last European elections, but was not re-elected.
The Congress unanimously adopted three resolutions – United for Jobs, United for Democracy and United for Peace.
According to a press release, United for Jobs proposes concrete ideas to reduce unemployment through the Youth Guarantee and improve working conditions for people in Europe through increased investment. Particularly high on the agenda was creating green jobs – ensuring a green and secure future.
United for Democracy highlightes issues of citizenship and democratic participation as well as the EU Scoreboard for Democracy, with the aim of forging an inclusive society – against nationalism. This is particularly relevant given the Fidesz government’s campaign against migrants in Hungary.
The resolution United for Peace tackles extremism, and forging peace though a strong progressive global agenda. It looked at progressive answers to common challenges including migration in the Mediterranean, violence and instability in the Sahel region, and balancing liberty and security.
On 14 June, Stanishev was interviewed by Bulgarian national radio. The day was in fact an anniversary of 14 June 2013, when Stanishev, in his then-capacity as leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, caused a major scandal by attempting to pass a vote in Parliament appointing Delyan Peevski, a shady businessman and media mogul, as head of the country’s State Agency for National Security (DANS).
Stanishev refuted reports according to which he had said, “Either we appoint Peevski or the government falls.” Later, in a TV interview, when the anchor mentioned the date 14 June, Stanishev pretended he didn’t realise what the journalist was alluding to.
Asked about the lessons learned from his political career, Stanishev said that had learned three of them: that fate has often been kind to him, that he must restore confidence through hard work, and that he needs a strong team, and should never give up.