After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, the first democratic elections were held in 1990, for a constitutional assembly and in 1991 for Bulgaria’s National Assembly. Until 1997, Bulgaria’s political system was characterized by instability and frequent changes in Government. However, from 1997 onwards Bulgarian Governments usually complete their terms of office, with the exception of the last one, which was forced by public protests to hold early elections in 2013, a few months before the official ending of its term. Due to the proportional representation electoral system, Bulgarian governments are usually coalition governments.
Two major political forces initially emerged at the beginning of the post-communist era. The first, which remains a major power until today as the leading force of the “Coalition for Bulgaria”, is the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which is a transformation of the former communist party. The other important political power has been the centre-right United Democratic Forces, which, in the 1997 elections got the absolute majority of votes. After 2001, however, Movement Simeon II of the former monarch Simeon became the dominant centre right political force. In 2006 former Movement Simeon II members and other centre-right forces joined Boyko Borishov in the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, which is now the strongest political party in Bulgaria, having won the elections of 2009 and 2013, after Bulgaria entered the European Union in 2007, under a government led by the Coalition for Bulgaria.
Another important political party throughout this period is the Movement for Rights and Freedoms-a liberal party which is widely perceived as a party of the ethnic Turks minority in Bulgaria. It usually gets a vote share around 10% and has participated in coalition governments. After the elections of 2005 the number of electorally important parties that contest the elections has increased and new political forces have emerged, with the most notable one being the nationalistic “Attack” party.
Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria (GERB)
Leader: Boyko Borisov
GERB (Grazhdani za evropeysko razvitie na Balgariya) is a Bulgarian centre-right conservative political party established on March 13, 2006. GERB is headed by Boyko Borisov, a former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, former mayor of Sofia and former member of the National Movement Simeon II. Its declared priorities are fighting crime and corruption, preserving family as the cornerstone of society and achieving energy independence. GERB joined the European People’s party in 2007. It won the 2009 Parliamentary election with 39.7%, electing 117 MPs. It also won the European Parliament election of 2009 in Bulgaria with 24.36% of the vote, electing 5 MEPs. GERB’s candidates for the 2011presidential elections, Rosen Plevneliev and Margarita Popova (presidential nominee and running mate, respectively), won the elections on the second ballot with 52.6% of the popular vote. GERB also won the 2013 parliamentary elections with 97 seats, receiving 30.5% of the popular vote. This made GERB the first governing party to win two consecutive elections in the history of the post-communist Bulgaria. However, with lack of support from other parties GERB went to the opposition.
Bulgarian Socialist Party (Bulgarska sotsialisticheska partiya, BSP)
Leader: Sergei Stanishev
BSP is the successor of the Bulgarian Communist Party, following its decision to abandon Marxist-Leninism in 1990. The party now advocates traditional social-democratic policies. It has constantly been one of the major political forces in Bulgaria, since the end of the communist era. Either alone or as the leading party of the Coalition for Bulgaria it has won 3 out of the 8 free elections in Bulgaria, with its highest vote share being 43% in 1994. It has participated in several coalition governments, including the one formed after the 2013 elections, when it came second with 26.6% of the votes and elected 84 MPs. BSP is a member of Socialist international, a member of the Party of European Socialists and its MEPs belong to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
Coalition for Bulgaria (Koalitsiya za Bulgaria, KB)
Leader: Plamen Oresharski
Coalition for Bulgaria (Koalicija za Balgarija) is a center-left alliance in Bulgaria, led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). Other members of the coalition are: Party of Bulgarian Social Democrats (Partija Balgarski Socialdemokrati), Communist Party of Bulgaria (Komunisticeska Partija na Balgarija), Agrarian Union “Aleksandar Stamboliyski” (Zemedelski Sajuz “Aleksander Stambolijski”), Movement for Social Humanism (Dviženie za Socialen Humanizum), Roma Party (Partija Roma) and New Zora (Nova Zora).
Movement for Rights and Freedoms (Dvizhenie za prava i svobodi -DPS)
Leader: Lyutvi Mestan
DPS (Dvizhenie za prava i svobodi) is a centrist political party, representing the interests of ethnic Turks in Bulgaria. The party was created in order to protect the rights and the identity of the ethnic Turk minority. It is the third biggest political power in Bulgaria, having participated as junior partner or supporting party in three coalition governments. It is the third most powerful party in Bulgaria. In the 2013 election it got 11.6%. It is a member of the Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party.
Leader: Volen Siderov
Attack party was founded a few months before the 2005 general election and it got a surprising 8.1% and elected 21 MPs. It is a nationalistic far-right party, with anti-Turk and anti-Roma political discourse. Its leader, Volen Siderov, built the initial core of his supporters through a TV show, where his messages are described as racist and xenophobic. In the 2006 presidential election, Siderov was placed second and qualified for the run-off. Ataka could be considered a media party, as it originated from a local cable television show with the same name. Its leader, Volen Siderov, has for years been building a core of supporters by spreading racist and xenophobic messages through the tv screen, his nationalist rhetoric being aimed mainly against Roma and Turkish monitories in the country. Ataka is now established as the fourth most important political force in Bulgaria, gaining 7.5% and electing 23 Mps in the 2013 election.