Author Topic: Bulgaria: A local Le Pen in race for president  (Read 1721 times)

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Offline davkakach

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Bulgaria: A local Le Pen in race for president
« on: September 30, 2006, 09:47:04 PM »
It has begun.


A local Le Pen in race for president

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2383127,00.html
The Sunday Times
London

by Nicola Smith
October 01, 2006

AN ultra-nationalist whose supporters chant slogans about “turning gypsies into soap” has emerged as the second most popular candidate in Bulgaria’s presidential election campaign.

Although Volen Siderov, the leader of the Ataka party, is not expected to win this month’s election, opinion polls suggest he will get enough votes to challenge Georgi Parvanov, the incumbent, in a second round. The scale of his support has set off alarm bells in Brussels as Bulgaria prepares to join the European Union.

At a rally in the town of Dobrich, Siderov, an admirer of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, whipped up supporters who chanted his name along with aggressive anti-minority rhetoric.

“Give Bulgaria back to Bulgarians,” has become the catchphrase of his party, which won more than 8% of the vote in a general election last year. Minority parties, especially those that represent ethnic Turks and the Roma community, have come in for particular criticism.

Siderov has tapped into popular unrest about crime among the 600,000 Roma. “Stop the gypsy terror!” he screamed on TV.

Katinka Barysch, of the Centre for European Reform, said such populists were capitalising on disillusionment with the high expectations of EU membership.

“Of course there are losers who don’t gain immediately, and then some demagogue comes along and says it is the fault of the gypsies and such things,” she said.

Siderov, 50, a former journalist, is being pursued in the courts for alleged ethnic and sexual discrimination. He also has no love for property buyers from Britain.

“A lot of English come here to buy property and feel like conquerors because it is very cheap. But they are saying Bulgarians should not come to England. If England limits Bulgarians then Bulgaria must restrict English people,” he said.

Boyko Todorov, of Sofia’s Centre for the Study of Democracy, said: “There is general dissatisfaction with the way politics is conducted. That’s why he’s so popular.”

But there was another reason, Todorov argued. “Siderov is a very good speaker and you don’t get that often among Bulgarian politicians — 99.9% of them are unbelievably boring.”
Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.   --Thomas Mann