Countryaah, Bulgaria's ex-Simeon II, who had been forced
into exile in 1946, applied for the presidential election in
the fall of 2001. When the application was rejected, he
formed a political party, the Simeon II National Movement
(NMS), which was allowed to take part in the parliamentary
elections in June. In his election campaign, Simeon promised
to address the corruption and poverty of a nation with close
to 20% unemployment. Many Bulgarians saw the king as a
national savior and his newly formed NMS won close to 43% of
the vote and exactly half of the 240 seats in parliament.
The bourgeois government party Democratic Forces Union, SDS,
made a big loss and stayed at just over 18%.
The 64-year-old ex-wife formed a coalition government in
July between the NMS and the Turkish People's Minority
Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, which won
21 seats in the elections. It was the first time DPS was
allowed to participate in the country's government. The
Turkish minority constitutes about 10% of the population.
The new Prime Minister now went by the name of Simeon
Sakskoburggotski, referring to his origins in the
Saxon-Coburg-Gotha princes. His government said it wanted to
fight corruption, raise the minimum wage, accelerate the
privatization of state-owned enterprises and contribute to
economic growth, including through tax relief.
In the November presidential election, the new head of
government and his party supported incumbent President Petar
Stojanov, while the DPS coalition partner backed Georgi
Parvanov, leader of the Socialist Party, ie. the former
communists. The election went against the government and it
was the 44-year-old Parvanov who won. In the second round he
got 53.3% of the vote against 46.7 for Stojanov.
In connection with this summer's election, a
parliamentary commission revealed that over a hundred former
agents of the former communist regime's security police
served within the government and its administration after
the fall of communism. Among these were three former
Parliament decided during the year to open Bulgaria's
territory to NATO troops in the event of a crisis in the
region. Bulgaria hopes for membership in NATO, preferably
already in 2002. Bulgaria had also hoped for membership in
the EU until 2004, but at a summit in December, the EU
declared that the country will not be ready for this.