Ataka leader Volen Siderov
Four MPs for Bulgaria’s ultra-nationalists Ataka have resigned from the party’s parliamentary group in the latest blow to embattled leader Volen Siderov – just hours before a scheduled Ataka congress.
The resignation of the four was announced in Parliament by Speaker Tsetska Tsacheva on the morning of the final sitting of the House before the Festive Season recess.
Ataka now has 10 MPs, the minimum required for a registered parliamentary group.
In a way, the party’s parliamentary history is repeating itself. It first entered Parliament after the 2005 elections with 21 MPs. By the time that Parliament was prorogued, the number who had quit left the party without a parliamentary group.
In 2009, the party again won 21 seats, with about 9.36 per cent of the vote. But the year 2011 has seen a number of departures, for reasons ranging from one who left after her party failed to support legislation she had tabled, to others who were disillusioned with Siderov’s performance over the May mosque incident and with his troubled relations with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s ruling party GERB.
The four whose resignations were announced are Borislav Stoyanov, Ognyan Tetimov, Dimitar Karbov and Petar Hlebarov.
Siderov was caught up in a public drama recently when his stepson, Dimitar Stoyanov MEP, called on Siderov to step down as leader after Ataka’s abysmal performance in the October 2011 presidential and municipal elections.
The Stoyanov drama – which in turn saw Siderov expelling his son-in-law from the party in a move that Stoyanov’s backers said was out of line with party regulations – was widely seen as rooted in Siderov’s estrangement from his wife Kapka.
Kapka Siderova was dismissed as editor-in-chief of the party mouthpiece and there have been attempts to get her to resign her seat as a Sofia city councillor, to which she was elected on an Ataka ticket.
Borissov’s GERB has got through annual Budgets and other key legislation with the support of Ataka, along with surviving no-confidence motions. However, since Siderov announced his party was withdrawing its support from the GERB Government, its place as a de facto voting ally has been taken by Yane Yanev’s Order Law and Justice party MPs.