Bulgarian businessman hopes to team up with Le Pen after EU elections

epa07169711 Marine Le Pen (L), president of the French far-right 'National Rally' party, and Veselin Mareshki (R) leader of Bulgarian 'Volya' party meet at the Bulgarian Parliament in Sofia, Bulgaria, 16 November 2018. Marine Le Pen arrived on her first visit to Bulgaria. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV

Veselin Mareshki, a Bulgarian businessman and leader of the party ‘Volya’ (‘Will’), is set to lead the list of candidates for the European elections in May, in a new far-right coalition that hopes to join forces with France’s Marine Le Pen.

Mareshki will head up a coalition with three other parties – the People’s Party for Freedom and Dignity, led by Orhan Ismailov, the Agrarian Union ‘Alexander Stambolijski’ of Spas Panchev and the party ‘United Social Democracy’ of Peter Dartliev. The new formation is called ‘Will – Bulgarian Patriots”.

Ismailov’s party is a former coalition partner of the liberal and centrist political party ‘Democrats for Responsibility, Solidarity and Tolerance‘, while members of Panchev’s party were excluded from the Bulgarian socialist party last summer after they declared that they were willing to work with the ruling centre-right party GERB.

Mareshki denied the new coalition was unprincipled and announced that the four parties were united by patriotism. Among the main messages in the election campaign of the coalition are European income, education and health, ethnic and religious tolerance and the liquidation of monopolies and cartels. The coalition is hoping to elect two MEPs in Bulgaria.

At the 2017 parliamentary elections, Volya took 4% of the vote, which would not be enough to secure a seat in the EU assembly, if replicated in May’s elections.

Mareshki wants to be part of the future group of MEPs that is expected to be headed by the French far-right leader Le Pen.

Union with Le Pen?

During her visit to Bulgaria in November, Le Pen said that her political group in the European Parliament ‘Europe of Nations and Freedom’ recognised Mareshki’s party as a partner.

“The French patriots deeply support you in your struggle in Bulgaria, a struggle for your homeland – for people and nations”, Le Pen said.

They both supported the idea that the model of the European Union was exhausted and unattractive and that the EU should be a project “liberating Europe” and based on the model of an alliance of free nations.

Officially, Mareshki’s ‘Volya’ is in opposition, but it often helps the ruling coalition ‘GERB – United Patriots’ to pass important laws or decisions. As it targets the electorate of the so-called ‘patriots’, Mareshki often attacks one of the three presidents of the United Patriots.

The United Patriots are going through an internal crisis that has called into question their unity. It is still not sure if they are going to campaign in the elections on the same ticket.

Edited by Ben Fox and Samuel Stolton

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