Bulgarian socialist leader snubs PES forum in Lisbon

Kornelia Ninova on 6 December 2018. [Dnevnik, the EURACTIV partner in Bulgaria]

Kornelia Ninova, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), announced on Thursday (6 December) she would not attend the Party of European Socialists congress in Lisbon, citing her ideological differences with the PES president, compatriot Sergei Stanishev.

Ninova, who leads the biggest opposition force in Bulgaria, announced she would snub the 11th PES Congress in Lisbon, which starts today (7 December) and which is expected to endorse Frans Timmermans as the PES common Spitzenkandidat for the European elections.

Stanishev is expected to get the nod as PES leader for a third time. Both Timmermans and Stanishev face no competition.

The PES congress is also expected to adopt a resolution calling on all EU member states to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Prevention and Combatting Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention.

It will also call on member states to ratify the UN Global Compact for migration.

In several EU nations, notably in Bulgaria and Slovakia, the convention’s critics claim that the Council of Europe document is a Trojan horse aimed at introducing a “third sex” and same-sex marriage. Several member states are against the UN Global Compact for migration.

In Bulgaria, BSP was among the political forces that actively campaigned against the ratification of the convention. As a result, last July the Bulgarian Constitutional Court voted to declare the Istanbul Convention unconstitutional.

Istanbul Convention ‘unconstitutional’ in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian Constitutional Court voted on Friday (27 July) to declare the Istanbul Convention unconstitutional. The Convention is the first instrument in Europe to create a comprehensive framework for the protection of women and girls from all forms of violence.

The Bulgarian socialists also oppose the Global Compact on migration.

Announcing her decision not to be present in Lisbon, Ninova said that the objections by BSP to the declaration on the Istanbul Convention and the Global compact on migration have already been sent to PES.

Ninova said that the BSP declaration would be led by her deputy Denitsa Zlateva.

“The BSP delegates to the PES congress will back Stanishev [for his re-election], but will be against the resolution for equality of genders, as well as the UN migration pact”, said Ninova, as quoted by Dnevnik.

Stanishev, who is a former leader of BSP, ideologically disagrees with Ninova on these and other issues, such as the attitude toward Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Among the Bulgarian socialist MEPs, Stanishev was the only one to vote in favour of a recent European Parliament resolution to trigger Article 7 against Hungary.

Orbán divides EPP ahead of crucial European Parliament vote

The European Parliament held a highly incendiary debate about Hungary on Tuesday (11 September), ahead of a vote on whether to trigger Article 7 against the country, exposing serious internal divisions in the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party.

Ninova’s conflict with Stanishev looms large over his chances to lead the BSP list for the upcoming European elections. Ninova is keeping her cards close to her chest, and says she cannot say who will lead the list, adding that it will not be her.

Stanishev is less and less popular among Ninova’s supporters, some of whom think that the PES leader should not appear at all on the list, because “he already has a job in Brussels”.

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