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ATAKA’s Music - Part of Other Political Orchestras’ Repertoire by Emil COHEN When Volen Siderov’s loud xenophobic, non-accepting, and spreading-hatred-for-any-”other” kind of talking started to pour out into town squares two and a half years ago, many, including the author hereof, bristled up. In fact, Volen’s rhetoric and company - rejecting the hated ”non-Bulgarians in Bulgaria” who, in partnership with the former nomenclature are pushing our country into the embrace of the ”world’s Jewish conspiracy” and are responsible for all past and future disasters both of our home-country in general and all ”true Bulgarians” individually - brought back memories of camps and crematoriums and suggested fear of a ”rebirth process” and ethnic purges. It turned out that the xenophobia and racism latent in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians were craving the appearance of Volen’s speeches to find an adequate vent for their feelings - something they had been waiting for since the very beginning of the so called ”transition” period. The xenophobia and the extreme nationalism were and still remain this party’s leading construction, its backbone. Add to it is the bitterness that someone else succeeded, you see, while I didn’t and the nostalgia for the ”socialist equality”, as well as the yearning after the iron fist capable of dealing with ”people’s torturers” in a single blow, and the hatred for the ”five-century oppressor” systematically propagated throughout our post-liberation history. Siderov’s party played the part of a permanent psychiatrist helping the nation spit out (but not be free of!) the nightmares, fears, hatred, and envy buried deep into the ”collective subconscious”. This in itself foretold long political life. The results were quick to follow - on 25 June 2005 the 2-month old party (at that point still the Ataka Coalition, meaning ”attack”) won over 297,000 voters, becoming the fourth strongest political power in the National Parliament. The following November, Volen ran for presidential elections and doubled the result. More importantly, he went on the ballot as the sole competitor to the current head of state. At the European Parliament elections - characterised by a very low voting rate of only 28% percent - ”Ataka” managed to squeeze two MEPs in, and attracted almost 300,000 votes (275,000 to be precise), ranking fourth yet again. Thus the Bulgarian nationalist party seemed to really have occupied a permanent spot in our political life, consistently gravitating around 10 per cent of the overall vote. Will this statement be confirmed by the results from the not yet completed local elections (in more than 150 local counties a second round will be held on 4 November)? The date available to us at this point seem to confirm this. For the fourth time, Ataka has scored a sustainable result measuring up with the same approximate one tenth of the citizens who vote at the various types of elections. As of today (the morning of 30 October) still no official data on the overall ranking of the parties and coalitions has been publicised. And probably there won’t be any, as these elections are local and the same players make unbelievable combinations between the different municipalities. Thus a whole array of parties is backing Radoslav Taskov who is running for the ballot in Blagoevgrad, for instance. Only a very able connoisseur of local political morals would be able to tell where GERB’s contribution stops, and that of Ataka begins, as well as where the other supporters’ bit comes in. As a rule, however, for the municipal councillor places, parties run individually, and based on the calculated support for these tickets one could judge as to the influence of specific political subjects. This is why I have processed some partial data from the latest publications of Central Elections Commission for the Local Elections (CECLE) on the support for 1 OBEKTIV


Ataka tickets in regional centres. Ataka tickets there won an average 9.98% of the actual votes. The lowest scores were in Smolyan (2.07%) and Blagoevgrad (2.11%). You must see the paradox of ”attackers” scoring so poorly in two “contact” towns bordering and sheltering so many enemies, that is Muslims and Macedonians? Shouldn’t these be the places where they are strongest? These ”attacking” people perform best in Bourgas with 19.30 per cent of the vote (there, the owner of the SCAT TV, Valeri Stoimenov, the hero of attackist ideas will be going to the ballot against the GERB candidate), Shumen (15.48%), Stara Zagora (13.93%), Dobrich (10.88%), and in Yambol (10.64%). In Sofia they register a very humble share of 4.78 per cent for the councillor ticket, and 4.02 per cent for the mayor candidate, the archon Slavi Binev. In all this talking regarding the election, here and there it has been mentioned that (after entering the municipal councils) Ataka will lose some of its influence, as ”it will need to bear the burden of responsibility”. I don’t think this is likely yet. Almost everywhere - at least in big cities, as there are still no figures on the smaller ones the party’s representatives will be a minority so insignificant as to be ignored, with the exception of Bourgas, Yambol, and probably Shumen and Dobrich as well. If the party’s municipal players in these cities enter in ruling coalitions, they will, of course, have to bear the negative consequences. As a whole, however, Ataka holds the comfortable position of a criticising opposition barking strenuously at the ruling caravan but without the gut to bite. In its two and a half years of existence, Ataka has changed. Its rhetoric is no longer as sharp, wealth is no longer repudiated as vigorously (quite reminiscent of the ”social” Bulgarian Socialist Party systematically nominating somewhat too wealthy candidates for Sofia mayors while Ataka put forward the moneyed man Slavi Binev), as its leaders have become accustomed to a life of luxury with the humble office across from the Levski Monument now replaced with a whole floor in the socialist luxury model, the Alexander Stamboliyski Home Museum, while activist meetings are now starting to resemble the familiar performances of other parties with the inevitable confetti, balloons, fireworks and similar political kitsch insignia. So, based on the above modifications, has this party become a regular part of the system, as a number series of observers have pointed out? Can it be trusted for political transactions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. It is not the party’s fault, however, but the system’s. Gradually, though unfalteringly, some leading ”tunes” from ”Ataka’s music” have become part of other political orchestras’ repertoires. Like Boyko Borisov’s hysteria about the prayers at Sofia’s Mosque, the paranoia of the whole political class along with president Parvanov about Martina Baleva’s ”blasphemous” project on the ”Batak myth”, NDSV’s successful attempt at preventing emigrants in Turkey from voting in the MEP elections, and the reburial of Tzar Kaloyan’s ashes are symptoms inter alia of the oozing ”attackism” in the very essence of our political system. The latter is becoming more ”Ataka” like while the prototype is becoming the norm. ”How very convenient!” any pragmatic politician would exclaim. ”This will provide a vent for public feeling while the system remains - as a truly European one - unperturbed”. There is something true in this cynicism. But the deep neglect of values in politics, which is so typical of our political life, will sooner or later take vengeance. One day the upward trend for economic growth will break. The feeling of a rising living standard and Europe’s help isn’t going to last forever. That will be the time to start looking for enemies, for someone to assume responsibility. And this is where the sustainability of the ”attackism” steps in, as it clearly points a finger at those responsible, and namely, the ”others”, the ”internal non-Bulgarians”, ”the global conspiracy”. Then, to the horror and dismay of liberal political cynic adepts of the theory that a society needs its ”valves”, they will have to bear the thunderstorm of revolt against the ”enemies”. As at that point there will be hundreds of thousands to whom no one would have bothered to explain why the xenophobia, racism, and extreme nationalism are fatal for a democracy.„ OBEKTIV 2


Ataka's music - part of other political orchestras' repertoire