BOLDLY STRIDING TOWARDS THE FUTERE
WITH RESPECT FOR THE VALUES
PROGRAM OF THE LIDER PARTY
We have established the LIDER Party, to anticipate events, in order to make things happen the way we want them to, and the way we can; to participate in laying down the rules of our life, without being subservient to ideological clichĂŠs or obsolete thinking; to rally those who wish to invest their intellectual and moral capacity in a constructive and creative effort for building a more human society; to overcome overall disillusionment and channel our energies into the development of the nation; to uphold society's specific needs of European-class health care, education, and economic prosperity. We are convinced that today, following its transition to democracy, Bulgaria needs, more than ever before, its national development project. This project sets the basic parameters of the development of Bulgarian society in coming decades as society with an advanced market economy, with genuine democracy and prosperous citizens. The political parties of the transition have served their purpose, and their political strategies are now a thin of the past. What is needed today is a mobilization of the will of the Bulgarian people in the quest for advanced political solutions and formations. What is needed is people ready and willing to devote their energy and professionalism to their Homeland, with pragmatism and lofty ideals. Twenty-first century idealism is associated with human economic, social and political relations. Development in the age of global politics is not a matter of adapting to its effects, but rather a matter of applying political innovation, intuition and solutions. The LIDER of the 21st century does not seek to catch up with bygone political models. The LIDER of the 21st century is capable of setting priorities and finding solutions satisfying needs of the entire society. The LIDER of the 21st century is the far-sighted politician who formulates messages for the future and makes them happen in the present.
Our project Our project answers the key questions of our time: the question of post-transition development, of improving the national model of Bulgarian politics in the conditions of EU membership. Bulgaria will continue to build a society with a market economy, political pluralism and democratic institutions. Today's Bulgaria is part of the globalized world. Bulgarian society must gain the selfconfidence of an active player in the conditions of globalization. We are entering the political market with our own ideas and professional solutions. Bulgaria has the potential and resources to be a powerful factor in the Balkans and within the European Union. It is our task to ensure the representation and participation of Bulgarian citizens at all levels of European governance. The nation must urgently become aware of and build a new type of political behavior as a member of the EU. This implies a rational path of development in the conditions of a highly competitive market, and an effective partnership. The future of the EU rests upon the potential of each constituent nation. To develop our full potential, to find and propose our own solutions for the prosperity of all Europe, is the main task of Bulgarians as Europeans. We will mobilize the citizens in the name of their common interests and future.
The LIDER Party is a party of the free, industrious and enterprising people of Bulgaria, of the professionals at every workplace: in industry, agriculture, the services, science and culture. We speak for the active sections society, for the professionals, entrepreneurs and managers, and we see them as partners of their employees. For a modern economy, sustainable politics and a prosperous society can only be built on the basis of shared interests of employers and employees. We are party of genuine democracy, which has set itself the objective to represent those Bulgarian citizens that espouse its values and ideas. It is their right to participate in making the decisions affecting their own life and future. The party will assure and guarantee this right within the Bulgarian and European institutions. 2
We will work for upholding the universal humans values, the European idea national identity. Without harboring illusions, we prefer to live guided by ideals, rather than being robbed of our morality and disoriented about the future. Ideals do not belong in books alone; for us, they are motor force of life. Our ideal is freedom. The freedom of choice, a life of dignity and the right to leisure are all manifestations of human happiness, and we will fight for its realization here and now, within our lifetime. We regard the earnest human endeavor as a prime condition for our development and prosperity. Bulgarian society has paid a high social cost for the transition. The time has come to build a liberal and fair society, harnessing the positional of corporate economics, civic activity and the state committed to the rule of law. We are family convinced that Bulgaria today must not allow a dissipation of its national resources. Within the European Union, this country is engaged in a free market competition with the highest standards of quality of life, labor productivity and technological advancement. This citizens of Bulgaria face the challenge of standing up together for their national interests an ideas.
Our values are: life, health, work, enterprise, education, children and the family, security, stability, dignity and spiritual advancement. These are an expression of our understanding of what kind of life we wish to live, and what kind of future we wish to outline for our children.
Our fundamental principles are: â€˘ Rule of law and equality before the law No defence of justice is more effective than a strong State committed to the rule of law. The State and the Constitution are the preconditions for the protection of human rights, of the individuals property and labour. In a world subjected to ambivalent political, financial, demographic and cultural impacts, in a region that continues to develop under the threat of ethnic and economic instability, the State is an essential institution for our continued existence and advancement. â€˘ Economic patriotism and entrepreneurship 3
The people of Bulgaria have a huge potential. We believe in their talent and enterprise. People must be encouraged to work and to produce. We have the qualifications, the expertise and imagination to turn the 'Made in Bulgaria' brand into a hallmark of high quality and a promising future in the markets of Europe and the world at large.
â€˘ Quality of governance and quality of life The point of good governance is to guarantee the equality of each and every citizen before the bodies of law enforcement, public administration and the courts, while creating conditions for material prosperity and spiritual development. The quality of life in Bulgaria has become detached from economic performance. Material prosperity is not an end unto itself. It is a means to achieve a high quality of life, but solely subject to the condition of guaranteed human rights. Human dignity must be based on the right to life, liberty and property, on ethnic and religious tolerance. People must feel secure and satisfied with the fruits of their labour, through a sense of justice assured by the State. There is no such thing as 'sublime'justice, there is justice for every citizen guaranteed under the law, here and now. We aspire to realize our ideals in the field of pluralism and the free competition of ideas. We respect each and every opponent who is prepared to compete with us by the means of democracy, within the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. We oppose the misuse of democracy as a front for oligarchic interests, for profiteering, for extortion, corruption or manipulation of the public mind. We resolutely oppose any authoritarian or populist practices or attempts to monopolize the free market as well as the political arena. We call upon the citizens of Bulgaria who share our values and ideals to direct all their efforts to the building of a modern, prosperous Bulgaria, in the name of our children and grandchildren, of the future generations of European Bulgaria!
I. Bulgaria's road ahead Bulgaria is one of the oldest states in Europe. It has survived external threats, domestic crises, foreign domination and internal strife; it has gone through different historical and cultural ages. Even in its darkest hours, in the years of bondage, we Bulgarians were sustained by an awareness of belonging to the Bulgarian community and tradition of statehood. It is this tradition that makes us today, too, part of the European nations and the European culture, part of Europe's most constructive project: the European Union. In the conditions of a global transition, the Bulgarian nation must preserve its statehood and territorial integrity. It must remain a political maker of its decisions in the regional, the European Union and on a global scale. Bulgaria's road ahead in the EU must be blazed by the ideas of tolerance, steady and sustainable development, which this country is to contribute and uphold in the European Union. Bulgaria needs a long-term policy of preserving and capitalizing on its strategic potentials. The political model that we aspire to achieve is intended to attain better quality of life for Bulgarian citizens by creating political conditions for economic prosperity and guaranteeing human rights. The LIDER Party will work for changing the tone and methods of the public political debate. We are convinced that with a tolerant and well-intentioned tone, society will be able to focus on its priorities and will mobilize itself for a full realization of the national potential.
Our conclusions about the transition period The end of the 20th century saw the beginning in Bulgaria of a transition towards economic and political pluralism. Bulgaria has built the institutions of its society and state based on the values of democracy. This transition has been far from an unambiguously defined period in our history. It will be remembered for the process of democratization, but also for the feeling of insecurity; for the plundering of property and national wealth, and for the country's integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures. The main conclusion to be drawn is that the institutions of government have achieved the objectives by force of decisions on which they were able to reach political consensus; and through tasks whose implementation required the commitment of the cumulative will of the national community and its representative, the State. In the years of change, we carried out a genuine peaceful revolution, aimed at implementing a liberal democracy and market economy. We proclaimed the principles of individual freedom and responsibility, as the crucial and irreversible step in the right direction. But these principles need to be fleshed out and to become part of the thinking and behavior of Bulgarian citizens. In the years of transition, ordinary Bulgarians showed resilience and will in their quest for social prospects. The political forces of the transition, however, have failed to build the kind of stable statehood that corresponds to the ideas enshrined in the Constitution. In their overwhelming majority, they proved powerless in the face of poverty and market anarchy. Ad hoc political and economic interests have prevailed over the effective implementation of the values proclaimed since the dawn of democracy: enterprise, responsibility, solidarity. An invaluable infrastructure and human potential has been wasted. For almost 20 years since the outset of changes, this remains an obstacle to the full integration of Bulgaria into the global and the European markets, and still ranks it at the bottom of the list of modern developed states. The privatization of key assets of the Bulgarian economy was carried out without a clear strategy and without tangible economic results. The absence of a working, independent judicial system has had a negative impact on the country's economy, as well as on politics and civil society.
Bulgaria as a member of the European Union 6
We are a full member of the European Union. The values and goals of united Europe correspond to the values and goals of the Bulgarian nation. Bulgaria develops in accordance with the European democratic values and the principles of delegated competence, as defined by the treaties which the individual states conclude with the EU. The picture is completed by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, according to which the EU acts where its decisions would be more effective than those proposed at a local or regional level. European integration is a pragmatic policy of economic and political effectiveness. It is an obligation of Bulgaria to adhere to loyal cooperation within the EU in compliance with the provisions of the treaties. Such loyalty also implies taking into account and negotiating on behalf of Bulgaria's national interests within the system of European decision-making. The European Union respects national identity, the constitutional order, local and regional self-government of its Member States. It recognizes the functions of the nation states pertinent to their territorial integrity, national security and public order. Each Member State is responsible for its own national security. Bulgaria is to go through a period of state building that should correspond to the new requirements of the market economy and the long-term realization of national interests in global conditions.
II. The economy: foundation of the quality of life
We regard the formulation of an economic policy adequate to the challenges of time as a strategic objective. Our policy correlates specific economic outcomes with the quality of life of Bulgarian citizens. Good quality of life is conducive to better economic outcomes and economic competitiveness, which in turn creates brighter prospects for our nation as a whole. The main policy goal of the LIDER Party is to create the best conditions for the development of the Bulgarian economy in European and global conditions. We are in favour of: â€˘ A comprehensive vision of the Bulgarian economy, of its industrial and technological development; â€˘ A policy of economic patriotism through creating conditions for promotion of Bulgarian business in a competitive market environment;
• An aggressive and export-oriented Bulgarian economy; • Compliance with the European standards with a view to rapid penetration of the European market by Bulgarian goods while creating conditions for mobile integration in all sectors of the economy; • Creation of strategies for national commitment of the economy and balances at a regional level. We believe that the main challenges and tasks for this country's development, for promoting growth and employment, are: • Increasing manufacturing effectiveness and promoting innovation; • Streamlining the administrative capacity by devoting special attention to the main regulatory functions of the government and the judicial system; • Implementing strict fiscal policy, improving the quality of public spending and the incomes policy, by pegging wage growth to improved labour productivity; • Improving the current business environment by reducing bureaucratic burdens and streamlining administrative procedures; • Increasing employment and improving the quality of the workforce, through active labour market measures and educational reforms; • Creating conditions for strong and transparent competition in the development of infrastructure projects of pan-European importance; • Developing an integrated research and development policy, geared to the concrete key priorities of the nation and its business sector; • Implementing a lifelong learning strategy and upgrading the qualifications of employees. For attainment of the goals identified in this economic project, we in the LIDER Party will pursue the following policies:
Macroeconomic policy We regard as weaknesses: the lack of clear medium and long-term priorities, the unjustified waste of national resources, and the practice of subsidizing unreformed and unrestructured sectors and branches of the economy. 8
In our view, the present situation of a substantial current account deficit, compounded by a trend towards its further increase, endangers the country's economic stability. Moreover, despite a sharp decrease in direct taxation, the share of reallocation through state regulation remains disproportionately large. We therefore propose curbing the levels of reallocation of resources through the state budget. In our estimate, government spending must be reduced sustainably to a level of under 40% of GDP, with a tendency to further lowering to 35% in the medium term. We favour abandonment of the policy of planning understated budget revenues and, on the basis of these, forming budget surpluses that are then spent in a non-transparent manner by executive decree. In this context, we favour the formation and implementation of a balanced state budget, one that corresponds to the actual political and economic situation in Bulgaria, based upon clear goals and priorities, without significant budget surpluses to drain fresh money out of the economic entities. In case a budget surplus does get formed, it must be spent only by National Assembly resolution. We in the LIDER Party favour implementing a strict fiscal policy and balanced reallocation of resources from the public to the private sector, coupled with immediate reforms in heath care, social security and education. In implementing the macroeconomic policy that we propose, we favour strict adherence to the Maastricht criteria.
Monetary policy We favour adherence to the common European Exchange Rate Mechanism, accession to the European Monetary Union and introduction of the euro as legal tender in the Republic of Bulgaria. In the area of monetary policy, we favour continuance of the Currency Board Arrangement in the process of preparation for Bulgaria's accession to the European Monetary Union; keeping the independence of the Central Bank as a source of stability promoting non-inflationary economic growth, through specific monetary measures, and, at the same time, a more active position of the Central Bank in protecting Bulgarian national capital and promoting Bulgarian business. For the purpose of raising the competitiveness and the production capacity, and the rate of absorption of funds provided by the EU, we favour the creation of a Capital Investment Fund with the participation of Bulgarian banks, in partnership with international institutions. 9
In addition to all of the above, and for the purpose of furnishing additional guarantees on the debt instruments used and the commitments undertaken, we favour the establishment of a National Guarantee Fund with the active involvement of the Bulgarian banking and nonbanking business and in partnership with international organizations.
Public finances In developing a long-term policy of public finance stability, it is particularly important to take into account the negative demographic trends in Bulgaria and their impact on the state pension system. In this context, we favour reducing the social insurance burden and a reform of the retirement insurance system, by increasing the role of the private sector in it. We expect this to produce the following positive effects: reducing the role of the state, curbing the influence of the'grey'economy, and thence, increasing the overall revenue in the state budget. From the standpoint of the long-term sustainability of public finances, it is exceptionally important to develop a strategy for creating a reformed, financially stable and economically effective health care system, ensuring the availability of high-quality health services to the public, with the active involvement of private business. We favour streamlining government spending by means of developing a strategy for immediate reform in education and health care, one that would put an end to the practice of uncontrolled, inefficient spending of resources. We believe that, without concrete measures and adequate sectoral policies, no genuine budgetary reform is possible that would lead to accelerated economic growth.
Policy of improving the business environment and promoting the development of the private sector. We believe that Bulgarian private capital, as the engine of development, must be a corrective factor and an active partner of the State in working out a strategy for economic development of the country. It is necessary to improve the regulations and the procedures for their implementation so as to streamline regulatory regimes, through: â€˘ minimizing the administrative obstacles to business; â€˘ ongoing privatization, based upon a clear-cut government strategy;
â€˘ minimizing licensing procedures; â€˘ optimizing the procedures for coercive enforcement of contractual obligations. We propose the establishment of a clear regulatory framework for interaction between government and business. Only in this way can private business turn from a subject of regulation into an active participant in the process of improvement of the business environment. To that end, we propose the use of alternative tools for the implementation of the relevant policies such as: performance- and results-based or process-based regulations; codes of practice based on the active involvement of the business sector; consumer training manuals; free initiatives and promotion of entrepreneurship and skills through participation in European education programs. To us, the public-private partnership is one of the most up-to-date and effective forms of interaction between the State and the business community in modern economies. We favour the adoption of a Public-Private Partnership Act that would clearly regulate possibilities for interaction between public and corporate finance, for the purpose of achieving economic growth at a local and regional level.
Policy of promoting small and medium-sized business Small and medium-sized enterprises are a significant factor of the promotion of entrepreneurship, job creation and economic growth. We favour improving the access of small and medium-sized enterprises to funding through EU programmes. In EU-funded projects, cofinancing should be recognized as expenditure for beneficiaries. Small and medium-sized businesses should be oriented to joint projects with municipalities based upon public-private partnership schemes.
Policy of absorption of European programmes funds The total amount of funds that Bulgaria can receive from the EU Operational Programmes for the 2007-2013 period is approximately EUR 7,000 million. The absorption of such funds is one of the major factors to be considered in assessing the effectiveness of government policy. The effect of such funds for the country will be in the infusion of fresh financial resources in the Bulgarian, economy and its increased competitiveness, as well as higher incomes and living standards of the population. The existing practice, however, bears clear evidence of an inability to absorb the funds provided by the EU, lack of administrative capacity and existence of corrupt practices. 11
As a result of all that, from a net recipient of funds Bulgaria is turning into a net payer, a country that indirectly finances the economies of the remaining EU Member States. Therefore, we in the LIDER Party believe in the need to optimize the administrative capacit and to develop concrete measures for speeding up the absorption of EU funds. It is inadmissible to solely rely on European supervision and control. What Bulgaria needs is a clear statutory framework and transparency of its institutions responsible for the management of EU funds. Disbursement control must involve the legislature and the judiciary.
Tax and social security policy The LIDER Party favours the development of a clear and concrete taxation policy. We oppose the unprincipled, ad hoc annual changes in tax legislation that stand in the way of developing an adequate business strategy. Such insecurity and unpredictability largely cancel out the effect of the otherwise low tax rates in Bulgaria. It is necessary to identify priorities and to develop a national long-term taxation strategy. We favour simplifying tax legislation. We favour a clear and stable taxation environment. The present situation of insecurity for investors and the rampant administrative arbitrariness are inadmissible. It is necessary to simplify and improve as much as possible the regulatory framework. An adequate and effective link must be provided between the business community and the control authorities, aimed at the correct implementation of the legal provisions. We favour reducing the social insurance burden and simplifying the social insurance legislation, and a review of the model of the existing social insurance system. We believe that such a reform would help bring to light the contributory income and put an end to the vicious practice of paying wages and social insurance contributions on the minimum contributory-income thresholds. Simplifying administration would help increase the contributions compliance rate while eliminating the chronic substantial deficit of the social security system. Lowering the rate of contributions would help increase the base and sustainably reverse the current tendency of losses. It is necessary to elaborate legal possibilities for corporation tax exemption of business entities reinvesting their profit, subject to certain conditions and criteria in priority spheres and projects. We propose measures for abolishing the current dividend tax imposed on resident natural persons and non-resident persons of the EU, and for lowering the Value Added Tax rate.
We propose simplifying the procedures for application of the convention on the avoidance of dual taxation.
Policy of good management of the tax administration The tax administration should place itself at the service of taxpayers and encourage observance of the laws and voluntarily payment of taxes. What is necessary is strengthening the administrative capacity and a thorough change of the philosophy, mentality and modus operandi of the control authorities. We favour: • Formulating clear rules and procedures for the operation of the National Revenue Agency; • Streamlining the tax administration; • Adopting a new approach to implementing follow-up tax control, based upon a comprehensive analysis and study of the particular business with its specifics; • Introducing a statutory time limit for giving a mandatory reply to all queries by legal persons and private individuals, as well as the principle of'tacit consent'in administrative procedures and proceedings.
Policy of promoting organizational and technological innovation Bulgaria needs a new kind of economy, one based on knowledge and innovation. We believe that the involvement of the State in managing innovation processes should seek to create conditions and develop mechanisms for investment in scientific research and development. We propose the following reforms in the field of innovation: • Increasing the share of competitive financing of research and development; • Promoting public-private partnership in research and development; • A review of the role of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; • Creating a system of assessing research and development policies; • Stepping up the allocation of funds for research and development in the industrial sphere;
â€˘ Promoting university-based applied research. We favour the provision of tax incentives to companies that have implemented quality management systems or have invested in innovation projects.
Energy policy For us, the underlying principles of Bulgaria's national energy policy should be: independence, sustainable development, and competitiveness. The primary function of the state energy policy should be the provision of a legislative framework assuring the equal treatment and competition-based development of all types of energy production. We believe that the State should create conditions for development of the energy sector on the basis of local raw materials and resources, which would provide security to our energy system while reducing our energy dependence. We favour providing conditions for stability and independence in the work of the state regulatory and control authorities in the energy sector, which would help build the confidence of the EU institutions in the management of the energy sector in Bulgaria. In our view, the issue with the restart of Units 3 and 4 of the Kozloduy NPP is not a technical one, since everyone acknowledge their technical safety. It is an issue of lack of trust by Europe in their management, on account of the practice of replacing the managing board of the plant and the LIDERship of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency with each change of government. We favour providing conditions for an equal, and in certain cases, even preferential participation of Bulgarian companies in the privatization and management of the energy operators. We believe that the State must create prerequisites for pooling the capacities of pure and applied science and the business sector for the purpose of exploration, development and exploitation of new energy sources in Bulgaria. In addition, we believe that favourable opportunities exist for pooling the resources and capacities of science, higher schools and the business community for bringing up a new generation of personnel needed for the management and development of the energy sector. Energy saving is an integral part of energy policy.
Transport The transport system is a major factor of sustainable economic growth and the cultural development of this country. The goal of transport policy is the creation of a proper infrastructure and integration of the country's territory, as well as of world-class transport communications. We in the LIDER Party favour developing a long-term policy of the State for all modes of transport, along with development priorities, transparent concession-award conditions, privatization of part of the transport operations and making use of the opportunities of publicprivate partnership. We favour optimum utilization of the funds made available by the European Union, for introduction of modern, innovative systems of transport safety management and control, oi new information and communication systems, and of technologies for production and use ( biofuels.
Tourism Our strategy for tourism development aims to make the Bulgarian tourism industry highly competitive on a world scale. What Bulgaria needs is a clearly identified state agency to manage and coordinate the tourism industry with the government policies in environmenta protection, health care, transport, culture and other related sectors. The existence of a suitable government strategy for long-term tourism development is of ke] importance for Bulgaria remaining a preferred European and world tourist destination.
Agrarian policy Bulgarian agriculture has so far failed to realize its potential. Our strategic goal is the development of a modern, competitive agriculture, in accordance with the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. The worldwide trend of a steady increase in the prices of agricultural products, as well as the limited production capacities and the anticipated direct farm subsidies under EU programmes provide incentives to farming and the export of agricultural produce. This trend must be supported by a suitable policy. We believe that modernization and mechanization are fundamental to the future development of Bulgarian agriculture. The introduction of new machinery and modern farming techniques, 15
while making the most of the European programmes and funds for investment credit, will foster the consolidation of agricultural land tracts and improve the conditions for their use. We propose the following measures for improving the agricultural property servicing infrastructure, for increasing foreign investment and for developing Bulgarian agriculture: • Formulation of a long-term government policy for development of agricultural areas; • Decisive measures for effective absorption of funds under the EU programmes; • Offering incentives to agricultural producers and guaranteeing the sale of their output; • Protection of Bulgarian interests in the European Union by means of achieving optimum quotas for Bulgarian farm produce; • Upgrading the qualifications of personnel and providing additional incentives to sector employees; • Active partnership between the State and private business in building the necessary service infrastructure for agricultural producers; • Promoting the sustainable development of agricultural areas and development of alternative employment; • Formulation of strict and clear rules for disbursement of subsidies from the EU funds in particular subsectors (plant- and vegetable-growing, livestock- and poultry-breeding, forest management and reforestation, irrigation and land reclamation); • Streamlining application procedures for European subsidy programmes; • Delegating broader powers to branch organizations.
The environment The modern way of life requires conformity with an optimum relationship between man and nature. The future generations depend on us. In the field of environmental protection we favour: • Sustainable spatial development;
â€˘ Protection of unique natural assets and resources; â€˘ Compliance with European standards; â€˘ Strict legislative measures regulating protected areas.
III. On the social, cultural and spiritual aspect of the market economy Reiterating our understanding of freedom, happiness and prosperity of the human person, of the need of humane industrial and social relations, being aware of the link between market economy and these relationships, and their importance for its functioning, we declan that The LIDER Party will develop and participate in the implementation of the following policies:
The labour market Bulgaria needs new, modern, quality- and productivity-tested criteria for assessing the value of labour. This must be the responsibility of all employers and owners. The country needs a new national information system on the state of the labour market and linking education, especially the secondary vocational and higher education systems, with the dynamics of job availability. The labour market is impossible without constant retraining of the workforce. State retraining funds must be made available to employers, who will be held responsible for the proper and efficient utilization of resources. The labour market requires the elaboration of job marketing measures. In our view, the issues of the labour market also include working hours and overtime pay, as well as hidden unemployment. It is that hidden unemployment that constitutes one of the factors of low labour productivity. We favour creating new jobs based on effectiveness.
Relations with the trade unions The effectiveness of the present-day economy hinges on the effective interaction between the trade unions and employer associations, on dialogue between employees and employers. 17
The management of private property must take into account the organized interests of labour. The state-sponsored trade unions of the transition period must give way to genuine trade unions, which have emerged and evolved on the basis of pertinent labour interests in each workplace. Such trade unions should consistently promote tripartite cooperation, whose institutions defend the interests of workers while pursuing active dialogue with employers. Trade unions should resume their concern about working conditions, the provision of social security on employees'actual income, protection against unemployment and workers'health care.
Emigration The dynamics of present-day life is linked with mobility of the residence and the workplace. The highly skilled personnel working abroad have not left their homeland for good. They must be offered sustained opportunities to return at any time and seek employment in Bulgaria, or work with Bulgarian entities. Our vocational schools and universities should strengthen ties with their alumni, allowing them to feel the constant support of the homeland and of the Bulgarian educational institutions. While new jobs are being created in Bulgaria, there is often a shortage of adequately trained personnel to fill them. Along with that, many people are still convinced that there is no suitable work for them back home, which alienates them from the national community. It is necessary to formulate a new government policy towards Bulgarians resident abroad, in order to win them back to the national cause. Emigration is a worrisome fact not just in respect of expatriates; too many people also live in 'internal exile', plagued by a lack of opportunity for social realization and decent life in Bulgaria. We believe that the issue of emigration can only be addressed by creating proper living conditions and an effective health care and education system. This is the duty of the State to its professional work-force.
Immigration As a EU member, Bulgaria becomes attracts more and more people as a destination for residence and social realization. The issues of immigration should be viewed and addressed in the context of the problems of the labour market. The Bulgarian nation today has the chance to attract back the Bulgarians of the wider diaspora.Those who wish and are able to seek realization in Bulgaria should be provided with conditions for living, education and vocational training. Bulgaria needs a national vision and government strategy for the treatment of those who have chosen it as the place for their professional and personal realization.
Youth realization Providing favourable conditions for work and professional realization of young people should become a priority of the law-making policy. Proper conditions for work and realization of youth are a major element of the living conditions of young people. Such measures should provide opportunities for finding work, for starting a family and rearing children. Legislation is in debt to the policy on children of Bulgaria, who must be provided for by their parents or by the State in accordance with modern standards. The young, ambitious, qualified, enterprising people of Bulgaria should be motivated to seek realization in their homeland. What can really keep them from emigrating is the existence of conditions for professional realization, career growth, upgrading their professional qualification, and proper remuneration for their work. Institutions are bound to devote special attention to the promotion of youth culture, sports and civil initiatives. Youth policy must be placed on a high institutional level.
Pension policy The State pension policy should rest on the principles of solidarity and personal contribution. There are three main pillars of the pension system: the State, the compulsory supplementary and the voluntary supplementary retirement insurance. Retirement insurance must be improved by pegging to macroeconomic indicators. Compulsory supplementary retirement insurance should be implemented on a fully funded principle. The point is that the second lifelong pension, granted by this pillar, should gradually level off with and exceed the amount of the State pension. We attach exceptional importance to supplementary voluntary retirement insurance. We believe that any employer can provide such retirement insurance for their employees.
Health care The underlying principle of our health policy is 'health in every policy'. Modern health care is more than a sectoral policy; it is integrated in all sectoral policies, because health is a basic human value. Bulgarian health care should represent an interlinked system of constant, lifelong care for the health of Bulgarian citizens, without discrimination on the basis of social status or age. It is high time for the State, municipalities and private entities to demonstrate their ability to interact in the field of health care. We favour: • developing a long-term strategy of modern health care; • setting up a system for separate management of the administrative, economic and medical functions; • setting up a system for upgrading the qualification and competitiveness of medical professionals at all levels within the health care system; • creating a new system of performance assessment of medical professionals based upon their qualification, experience, seniority and place of work; as well as of the quality of health establishments and care, on the basis of quality of service, cost and financial results;
• transparent financing and cash flow control; • improving the health insurance system by placing it on a competitive basis; • retaining the principle of solidarity in the compulsory health insurance system, by ensuring that a guaranteed mandatory minimum package of services is provided for the entire population. The participation of the State in the funding of public health establishments is a guarantee of accessible and high-quality health care services; • an alternative system of supplementary voluntary health insurance, making it possible to choose health establishments and high-quality services; • high-tech health care facilities; • improving the interaction between the emergency medical care units and the rest of the health care system; • accessibility and high effectiveness of pre-hospital care; • improving the interaction between primary and specialized pre-hospital care and creating an integrated, unified information system to trace the course of treatment of each individual patient; • reducing the number of hospitals by a change of ownership and promoting effective public-private partnership; • revising the codes of ethics and making them a binding upon the decision-making process of the ethical commissions. Special attention should be given to the dental care system. A key priority in this respect is to set up an effective system of interaction with the health insurance system. It is necessary to restore preventive dental care in schools and kindergartens. The traditions in the field of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of occupational diseases and occupational medicine in general should be revived. Social medicine should become an integral part of the health care system. Special attention should be given to child health care by introducing unified performance standards for medical practitioners at kindergartens and schools. It is necessary to create a 21
nation-wide system for monitoring the physical development of children, and to introduce health education in primary school. We will place an emphasis on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle, on the streamlining and more effective use of the rehabilitation, hydrotherapy and health resort systems.
Social inclusion of people with disabilities The provision of equal opportunities to people with disabilities must become a genuine political commitment. The competent authorities should continue and accelerate implementation of the policy of addressing the issues through a quantitative build-up: providing access ramps to public buildings, specially adapted public transport vehicles, suitable modifications to sidewalks and underpasses to enable wheelchair access, and enforcing the requirement of non-discrimination of job applicants on the basis of disability. There is also a need of conscious efforts on the part of everyone for bringing about a qualitative change in the attitude towards people with disabilities, and for jointly building an environment that would enable them to develop their potential and abilities.
Development of sports In modern society, sport is an investment in people's health. Sport is a universal means of increasing the capacity for work, and of the physical and moral upbringing of the individual. Sport is also a means to prevent drug abuse and the illnesses of the information society. The main goals of our policy for the development of sports are: • Providing suitable conditions for popular involvement in sports for all ages; • Creating an environment to practice daily sports activities in urban conditions; • Allocating a substantial place for sports and physical education in the educational system, from primary school all the way up to higher education; • Providing a legislative framework for committing Bulgarian business to sports, by offering incentives for involvement in the construction and maintenance of sports facilities; • Establishment and consolidation of the world standing of Bulgarian national sports. 22
Education and science The education system is a tool of social change. This fact has been clearly realized and used back during the Bulgarian National Revival period, and even before that. It is time for us today to decide our own future, and the future of our children, by assuming our responsibility for their education. Taking into account the European strategies and practices, we propose an education policy built on the following key principles:
Universally accessible and free education The principle of free education in State schools assures equal access to education. Genuine guarantees of equal access are further provided through the distribution of free textbooks for the compulsory education course.
Freedom of education In Bulgaria, the State ensures the equal treatment of State and private education by formulating universally binding criteria for the different forms of education. Private schools may receive state aid subject to strict contractual arrangements with government institutions
Compulsory education We support the principle of compulsory secondary education for children aged between 7 and 16. This principle must be codified in law as both a right and an obligation of the parent. Child-protection and child-care legislation must be improved by including clear commitments of the State and the parents with respect to preschool-age children.
Secular and ideologically neutral education The compulsory education provided by the State must be secular and ideologically neutral. It should remain unaffected by the religious affiliation of parents, and should offer teaching that is religiously and ideologically neutral.
Bulgarian schools must not teach religious subjects or allow religious elements to be delivered as part of the school curriculum. Religious education is possible on an extra¬curricular basis, subject to rules laid down by the State. Proceeding from the above principles, the LIDER Party proposes an education policy containing the following compulsory elements: • in-depth knowledge and command of the Bulgarian language; • knowledge and use of at least one modern foreign language; • knowledge of the basic principles of mathematics and familiarity with basic sciences and technologies; • use of basic modem communication technologies: computer and Internet literacy; • familiarity with the civil and social principles of social cohabitation; • Provision of conditions for independence, enterprise and development of creative skills. These general conditions for the education system are valid for all generations and are part of the lifelong learning framework. They are an element of the adaptation of Bulgarian society to the dynamic conditions of globalization. A system of assessment of the acquired mandatory skills must be developed by the State educational institutions and be valid for every school throughout the country.
The role of the State in education: • determines the policies, adopts the curricula and the teaching content of subjects at the phase of compulsory education; • defines and coordinates the diplomas, academic degrees and titles in accordance with European standards; • implements the personnel policy at the phase of compulsory education; • provides the necessary resources and allocates them in accordance with the law; 24
• organizes the geographic distribution of teaching staff among schools in accordance with a long-term demographic and regional strategy; • adopts measures for the prevention of violence in schools and specialized child care institutions; • controls and assesses school curricula for the purpose of ensuring continuity between educational degrees; • promotes public-private partnerships and the setting up of school boards of trustees. The State lays down the rules and delegates competences between the central, regional and municipal institutions in the field of education.
The following functions should be included in the competences of municipal councils and mayoralties: • construction and maintenance of school buildings; • construction and maintenance of sports facilities, organization of cultural activities and extracurricular activities; • delivery of vocational and technical training for all ages; • arrangement of school transportation; traffic control and the transport infrastructure in the vicinity of schools; • employment of school support staff to provide affordable meals and organize daytime activities for schoolchildren; • ensuring conditions for equal treatment of schools, including institutions for children deprived of parental care. Special attention should be given to personnel training for the needs of the education system. Universities should offer and deliver two-year teacher specialization courses in the different subjects taught at school. The social status of Bulgarian teachers should correspond to the lofty place and great social significance of the teaching profession. Teachers should be provided with appropriate 25
financial compensation and moral support for their work. The term'teacher'should reflect the role of those who impart knowledge and bring up children in the spirit of the best traditions and modern practices. Basic, secondary and higher education in Bulgaria should be brought into conformity with the education systems of the advanced countries, so that Bulgarian education could be internationally convertible and adaptive. The LIDER Party sets itself the objective to involve parents in the educational process, as a major factor of achieving the goals of education. We appeal to the parents, convinced that their involvement with the issues of children and education is a sound guarantee of the future of the entire society. It is the parents that are responsible for providing normal living conditions for their children: food, sleep, sports; protection against health-hazardous games and activities; life without drugs. Parents are ultimately responsible for bringing up self-reliant and responsible citizens. The education system must ensure a constant link with parents, timely flow of information and proper interaction with teachers through meetings, extra-curricular activities and common initiatives. It is necessary to enhance the role of school boards of trustees to enlist parents in bringing up their children jointly with the school.
University education and science Bulgaria's universities should educate and ensure the proper qualifications of their graduates for employment in all sectors of the economy and public life in Bulgaria and the European Union. The convertibility criteria applied to higher education should form the basis for the competitiveness of our education system. University education should be governed on a national level. As educational centres, the universities enjoy autonomy, they are controlled through the State accreditation system and the standardization of academic profiles, degrees and titles under unified criteria. State and private universities operate in accordance with standardized common requirements, with different sources of financing. Higher education can be State-run and free, State-run and paid, or private.
Universities should be venues of innovation and scientific research. They should use various combinations of State, regional, European and private sources of funding. Separating'pure' science from higher education reduces the effectiveness of both, distancing Bulgaria from the leading areas of scientific research. Therefore, universities should engage in scientific pursuits by operating research centres in institutions within the established higher schools. It is necessary to provide an integral link between higher education and business. We propose the establishment of a National Agency for Coordination of Scientific Research that would start a partnership between the private and public sectors in education, on the one hand, and industry and applied applied research, on the other. Such an agency would b different and separate from the institutions monitoring labour market requirements to the education system; it should focus on the development of fundamental and applied science. The link between business and science must be ensured through the creation of a system of loans for higher education, to be provided by the business community. Such loans should be made available for scientific research, as well as in return to a commitment by students tc engage in a given profession upon graduation. Bulgarian legislation should encourage sponsorship of science and education through tax relief and preferences.
Culture The main positive effect of the transition for the cultural sphere in Bulgaria is the freedom of creative expression and the increasing democratization in the production and consumption of cultural values. However: â€˘ Present-day cultural policies are only efficient if they operate in full synchronization with present-day educational, communication and media policies. â€˘ Present-day cultural policies are only efficient if they accord equal treatment to universal values, the values of the national cultural heritage, of regional cultures and human everyday life. â€˘ Present-day cultural policies are only efficient if they reaffirm tolerance of cultural diversity. This would enable the citizens of Bulgaria to participate in social networks in a meaningful and rewarding manner. Cultural and personal differences are a source of well-being. 27
• Present-day cultural policies are only efficient if they stem from the spiritual needs and interests of the local communities.
The LIDER Party will focus its efforts on: • Assertion of the Bulgarian and European cultural identity of all Bulgarian citizens; • Assertion of the Bulgarian cultural tradition as a filter through which the nation can fully absorb the ideas, images and symbols of globalization and the worldwide information network; • Formulation of new priorities for cultural management, marketing and advertising. This would require an active dialogue between the captains of the economy, the people of the spirit, the creative industries and the non-governmental sector. Only high-quality legislation in the cultural sphere is capable of safeguarding the autonomy of Bulgaria's cultural output, including through the as-yet-unrealized opportunities of public-private partnership. As a potential partner in its current policy making, the LIDER Party identifies, above all, young people at a local level involved in contemporary art and intellectual pursuits within a national, European and global context. In this way, the LIDER Party will aspire to neutralize conservatism and populism in the field of culture.
The church and religious communities The Bulgarian people are tolerant to atheism, as well as to the various religious denominations that exist in the country. Such tolerance is part of Bulgarians'spiritual freedom. Historically, Christianity has played an important role for the development and preservation of our national community. We treat with respect the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which, over the centuries, has been not just a religious institution but also a major social and political factor. From a cultural and historical perspective, the Church has kept the nation united through its prescriptions of morality and virtue, and with its commitment to common national causes. The Church is separated from the State. It should perform its functions outside the secular institutions. 28
The Christian Church, as well as all other religious denominations in Bulgaria, should contribute to promoting a spirit of tolerance and cohesion within Bulgarian society. Proselytizing religious cults, which are banned in the advanced European countries, should ultimately be outlawed in Bulgaria as well.
IV. The national political model Irrespective of the existing political pluralism and the separation of powers, actual political practices in this country are a far cry from the advanced democratic models. The Bulgarian government institutions today are not in a position to ensure the effective political functioning of the bodies of state power an all three levels: local, central, and European. Evidence of this can be found in the crisis of representation; the often inapplicable or faulty legislation; the crisis in the judicial system; the poor interaction among institutions; the huge administrative deficiency and the weaknesses of local government. The weakest links in today's political system of Bulgaria are in the administration of justice and law enforcement. What Bulgaria needs is a really independent judicial system that commands sufficient authority, as a precondition for economic advancement and giving scope to civil initiative.
The institutions The parliamentary system is the foundation of state power in Bulgaria. A genuine representation of the Bulgarian citizens in the bodies of power can be achieved through a strong, statutory link between the work of members of Parliament and the interests of their constituents, for the entire duration of their term in office. We declare ourselves in favour of the adoption of constitutional and legislative provisions enabling the recall of members of Parliament while in office, on demand by their constituents. A free mandate, as the scope within which each elected representative may adopt and express his or her political positions, cannot be restricted, yet can, and must, be subject to voter control. 29
Parliament should set an example of public openness and democratic control of the institutions. The executive branch of government in Bulgaria derives its power from Parliament and must be subjected to the strictest control as to compliance with the laws. Otherwise, the executive threatens to turn Parliament into a mere rubberstamp appendage to its machinery, thereby severing all links between political power and its civil roots during the period between elections. The legislature must restructure its mode of operation, by reorienting the law-making process above all to the needs and interests of the active part of the Bulgarian citizenry, and towards improving the judicial system. Bulgaria needs a system of monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of legislation. The further development of representative power should be complemented by the practices of direct democracy. Civil society should be involved in politics through referendums and referrals. The LIDER Party will vigorously oppose any attempts to abuse elected or appointed office in the bodies and institutions of central or local power, for personal gain. The Bulgarian institutional system suffers from intolerably high levels of corruption. We realize that the success of any institution of state power hinges on its zero tolerance of corruption and on its determined fight against corruption. Abuse of office for personal gain is today the biggest single canker of Bulgaria's political life. The LIDER Party will strictly abide by the principles of separation of state power and democratic control of the institutions. To us, the modern performance benchmark of the institutions is their ability to serve the interest of the State and the citizens. We will work for translating this principle into a daily practice.
Local authorities and self-government Local government has an ever increasing significance for achieving high quality of life. Promoting democratic local government ensures in practice an active political position of the population. Municipalities have at their disposal more and more tools of independently accumulating funds, of participating in, and proposing, projects and programmes. 30
Of particular importance, therefore, is that the bodies of local government are formed on the principle of civil involvement, rather than on the basis of business interest. The business principle keeps the citizens isolated from the exercise of power, turning them into hostages to external interests and corrupt practices. Bulgaria needs a new model of cooperation between central and local government. An end must be put to the blackmail of municipalities by the State, of the constant jockeying for budgetary allocations and the trade in recriminations that stand in the way of addressing the problems of citizens. Municipalities should treat their own tasks with greater responsibility and should not try to lay the blame for their own failures to other institutions; they should offer solutions rather than justifications. Municipalities should gain the kind of independence that would guarantee their ability to deal with local problems without jeopardizing the unitary nature of the State. The role of the State should be to assist municipalities in underdeveloped or depopulating regions, with a poor local economy or inadequate infrastructure. The means to achieve genuine decentralization of local government include: • Utilization of EU funds for achieving sustainable and balanced development of the regions in Bulgaria; • Changing the status and operation of the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria towards vesting it with more powers to represent the interests of local authorities in dialogue with central government; • Building public-private partnerships and maintaining an active link between local government and the business sector; • Enhancing the role of local referendums. Our priorities for regional development are as follows: -
balanced and sustainable development of the regions;
development and modernization of the regional infrastructure;
overcoming excessive concentration and urbanization;
accelerated development of underdeveloped areas;
Restructuring of the economy in backward areas. 31
Civil society The current state and activity of civil society are important indicators of the quality of the democratic system. Democratic governance is impossible without the involvement of citizens through the structures of civil society.
The LIDER Party aspires to: •
establishing closest links with civil society;
supporting the initiatives of citizens'associations;
upgrading political culture through the structures of civil society;
• promoting and publicizing public opinion, as a political factor, through the State-run, public and private media. The non-governmental sector is of crucial importance for the normal functioning of democracy, for promoting civil activism and broader representation of the citizenry in the institutions of state power. However, civil associations are simply missing from our national political tradition. They may appear here and there, more as good practices transplanted from abroad, rather than as exponents of civil society in Bulgaria. Civil associations should propose effective solutions to social problems, and should constitute the foundation of direct democracy. They should occupy a prominent place in the structure of political life. To this end, they should bring themselves closer to the real needs of people, and to the current agenda of society.
National security and home affairs Bulgaria is part of the all-European security system. Bulgaria is a NATO member. It is part of the Euro-Atlantic security zone and fulfils its allied obligations. 32
The Bulgarian Armed Forces should live up to the present-day challenges. The armed forces develop within the framework of the allied strategies and commitments. The Armed Forces are turning professional and is being equipped with the most up-to-date materiel as the crucial element of its combat readiness. The country's national security is also guaranteed by the latest anti-terrorism technologies. The country needs a national anti-terrorism strategy across the spectrum, from citizen training to the system of responsibilities of the institutions. The fight against organized crime in the territory of Bulgaria is part of the country's national security. This requires the allocation of adequate resources, as well as close cooperation with European and international organizations. Another part of national security is the protection of the population against natural disasters and man-made accidents. In this sector, what Bulgaria needs is a rigorous definition of the obligations and commitments of the State, the local authorities and the civil society organizations, interconnectivity and interaction of the institutions for the sake of security for all citizens. At the beginning of the 21st century, the law enforcement establishment is of particular importance for society and the State. The Bulgarian police must serve as an example of moral integrity and professionalism, whereas any unregulated contacts and links with the criminal underworld should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Bulgaria's foreign policy At the beginning of the 21st century, the foreign policy of Bulgaria is part of the system of international relations in the global world. In defining its foreign-policy vision, the LIDER Party proceeds from the understanding that States are the basic building blocks of international relations in a globalized world. States join supranational structures, which then develop and establish themselves as a condition for security and prosperity. In a global world, domestic and foreign policy constitute a single playing field, where politics, economics and cultures of human communities interact. Peace, as the ultimate human value, expands its meaning. Peace means more than the absence of military action in whatever form. Peace implies the non-use and the destruction of nuclear weapons, as well as the non-admission of the use of new technologies of whatever kind against human beings anywhere on the planet. The formation and implementation of a new common policy of mankind for the protection of the human race, against biological and 33
chemical interference in the freedom of the individual, against any tampering with nature, is increasingly becoming an imperative necessity. Today's environmental and demographic problems of mankind are our problems as well, refracted through the geographical and geopolitical realities in Europe and in the Balkans. Bulgaria is not, and cannot be, isolated from the world trends. The close interdependence of politics and economics today is a dominant political fact that should be understood in its dynamics, enabling people to integrate into the world labour market at a decent price. Today it is especially important for us to realize the new economic and political challenges from the position of a developed nation, and not from the position of the provincial limitations of a nation struggling to catch up with the rest of the world. Isolation and inability to participate in the strategies and plans for future development is today the worst scourge for a huge part of mankind. We will aspire to secure our participation, through our representatives, with our own ideas and solutions, in world and European organizations concerned with the future of the world. The European Union is a political community of states which builds a common policy on shared universal values. These values are fundamental to the policy of each constitutional party and government institution in the Member States. The future development of the EL) is pivotal in the utmost for Bulgaria's own development. We should further our relations with the Union based on unity and mutual involvement with the peoples of Europe, with whom Bulgaria's historic destiny will remain linked during the 21st century. The prosperity of the EU is our own prosperity, and our own prosperity is prosperity of the EU Member States. This is a new frame of mind that we need to define the spirit of political interaction within the framework of the Union, and which is yet to be built out of the genuine interdependence of the EU countries. The EU must be competitive and have one of the decisive voices in shaping world development.
Bulgaria will pursue its relations with the EU in compliance with its Constitution. Bulgaria is a stabilizing factor in the Balkans. It aspires to good-neighbourly relations. We are involved in the overall development of the entire Balkan region, on the basis of European values. We believe that all Balkan countries have their European perspective, and that Bulgaria will facilitate its realization. Bulgaria's bilateral relations with the US and Russia are of exceptional importance for this country. Maintaining a balance in these relations is a guiding principle that needs to be formulated and consolidated in Bulgaria's foreign policy, and adhered to in both foreign political and economic relations. Bulgaria values its well-intentioned bilateral relations with all countries. It maintains and promotes bilateral cooperation on the basis of treaty relations, mutual respect and mutual benefit. Bulgaria favours non-intervention in the internal policy of States, and strict respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. Double standards in foreign policy are unacceptable to us and our partners.
V. The LIDER Party and the change of the partisan model The need for change of the partisan model The political tasks of the transition period have been fulfilled by the parties of the transition. They preserved civil peace and introduced political pluralism and democratic elections. A market economy has been established. Ownership has been transformed. The national consensus on integration of the country into NATO and the European Union has been implemented. In recent years, however, the partisan model in Bulgaria has been in crisis. The crisis of political parties today arises from the absence of a national project for the development of Bulgaria after the completion of the transition to democracy. Not a single party so far has admitted in full the problems of the new structure of ownership, of the relationship between the State and private property, of the monopoly position of State-owned and private companies, of the merger of political power with economic entities. Not a single party so far 35
has told, or shown its citizens how it would regulate social relations through the law, and how it will establish a working independent judiciary in conditions of democracy. The crisis of party representation, which must be overcome with joint civil and political efforts, calls for a new organization and functioning of the partisan system. Political parties are the basic building blocks of the democratic political system. They are the obligatory pillars of political life. There is no other cure for the ailments of dictatorship and oligarchy. Political parties in Bulgaria are now faced with the task of adapting to the conditions of European and global issues. They should transform their activity by directing their efforts towards the full mastering of the tools of democracy. The main goal of the partisan model is for the parties to achieve authenticity of the interests they represent, and to produce working ideas for development. Parties should mobilize the potential of the Bulgarian nation and lead it towards implementation of the best solutions. Legislative and the policies applied by the political parties still lack identity and original ideas; instead, there are only models copied from elsewhere, often inapplicable in the conditions of Bulgaria. Bulgarians cannot figure out who represents them and how in the tax, social, educational and other spheres, they cannot see the point of formulating one policy or another. Left parties impose a rightist tax reform and a rightist social policy. Right parties appeal for social equality, solidarity and social justice, without a mention of these values in their political programmers. It is high time for the partisan model to find its feet. Bulgarian politics treasures the ideas of each and every citizen. By tradition, Bulgarians are educated and politically active people. Their political energy must be channeled in a positive direction, which is the principal task of the LIDER Party. We favor: • political parties representing real communities with real interests, rather than imaginary or amorphous masses, or ad hoc aspirations of certain individuals or groups; • political parties with a solid coalition culture and clear programme intentions; • political parties that present their ideas of development to their followers and the entire nation, in European and global conditions; • political parties which, through their ideas, are real LIDERs of society and provide mechanisms for citizen participation in politics. 36
The electoral system The electoral system legitimizes political representation. No strong statehood or genuine democracy would be possible without working electoral mechanisms recognized by the people. The proportional representation system practised nowadays in Bulgaria must be changed. Bulgarians should be given the chance to choose between personalities. Genuine LIDERship must derive from the trust personally conferred by the people. A purely majoritarian electoral system, however, if applied in the conditions of Bulgaria, would have the opposite effect.The corrupt and undemocratic practices established in recent years in the selection of persons to run for office, especially in local elections, pose a serious problem. Political representation often degenerates into vote buying and trade in persons. Politicians, who are either bribed or dependent, and who are beyond the control of a political party or civil society, make illusory the representation of citizens'interests. Therefore, in the ongoing debate on the kind of election system that Bulgaria needs, the LIDER Party will stand up for proportional representation with preferential vote, allowing voters on election day to place candidates on the list in different order from the one assigned by the party. The LIDER Party is part of the change of the partisan model The LIDER Party is a liberal party. It belongs in the centre of the political spectrum. It espouses liberal and social-liberal values and is part of the European liberal family. The party's ideological and organizational development has been influenced by the best examples of liberal political practices in party and governance solutions and relations. The LIDER Party will seek interaction with all liberal parties, which are close to its values and will seek to join forces with the activity of the Liberal International. The LIDER Party will work with the centrist parties in Bulgaria. It is open for interaction along liberal rule lines with parties to the left and to the right of the centre, which act in conformity with the Bulgarian Constitution and the laws of the land. The Constitution of the Party has been elaborated in such a way as to correspond to its programme tasks.
Thematic clubs of the Party LIDER sees the implementation of the idea of joint actions with civil society in Bulgaria above all in its local thematic clubs. Their role would be to rally the citizens who support the ideas of the LIDER Party and believe they can realize their own ideas through the Party. The thematic clubs of the LIDER Party set themselves the objective of attracting active members of the public, to create conditions for civil initiatives aimed at the implementation of projects, at civil control of the institutions of state power, as well as cultural, educational and other initiatives. The Party's thematic clubs are the living link between the Party and the problems of citizens. They are the points of contact that enable civil control over the Members of Parliament, as well as the shaping of new ideas about the Party's policy.
We want a different and better Bulgaria. We want a present and future of dignity. The LIDER Party has the courage and the will to achieve it. The LIDER Party can do it. Together with you and for your sake. In the name of Bulgaria.