There Is Such a People

Summary

There Is Such a People[1][nb 1] (Bulgarian: Има такъв народ, ИТН, romanizedIma takav narod, ITN) is a populist political party in Bulgaria established by Bulgarian singer, TV host and politician Slavi Trifonov.[7] Self-described as a "political product", the party is named after one of Trifonov's own musical albums.

There Is Such a People
Има такъв народ
AbbreviationITN
LeaderSlavi Trifonov
Founded16 February 2020 (2020-02-16)
Headquarters70th Building, Odrin St., Sofia
TV station7/8 TV
Ideology
Political positionBig tent[6]
Colours  Light blue
  Dark blue
National Assembly
19 / 240
European Parliament
0 / 17
Website
pp-itn.bg

HistoryEdit

FoundationEdit

Trifonov originally attempted to found a political party under the name of "There is No Such State" (Bulgarian: Няма такава държава, romanizedNyama takava darzhava). The application was turned down as the Supreme Court of Cassation of Bulgaria ruled that the party's proposed logo (a Bulgarian flag placed on top of an open human palm) violated the country's prohibition against the use of national symbols by political parties, causing him to change the name to "There Is Such a People" and adopt a new logo.[8]

April 2021 electionEdit

The party fared well in its first-ever election, the April 2021 Bulgarian parliamentary election, finishing second in the polls behind GERB. Trifonov won a seat in the National Assembly, but stated that he had contracted COVID-19 and as such demanded that he be allowed to attend the swearing-in ceremony remotely, which he was allowed to do. However, even after his recovery Trifonov refused to ever attend or even visit the parliament. After GERB failed to form a government, as per the Bulgarian constitution, ITN was handed the mandate to do so by the Bulgarian President. The party insisted on proposing a single-party cabinet, offering a chess player with no political experience as prime minister-designate. The proposal received no support from parliament, and as such the party withdrew its proposition before the deadline. Shortly thereafter, it stated that it would not support any other government and would seek new elections. As no majority had formed around any political party, the parliament was dissolved and snap elections were called for two months later.[9][10]

July 2021 electionEdit

During the election campaign period, the party essentially refused to campaign or issue promises, largely staying out of the political debate. This was initially shown to be a winning move, as the party experienced a surge in popularity.[11][12] Having faced criticism for never attending parliamentary sessions during the previous convocation, Trifonov did not put himself forward as a candidate, stating that it was "not his place" and that his job would be to "take on responsibility" from outside the National Assembly.[13] In the July 2021 parliamentary election, ITN polled narrowly ahead of GERB, thus winning a plurality, though not a majority, in the National Assembly. ITN attempted to convince three members of Bulgaria's apolitical caretaker cabinet to join ITN as political ministers, but all three refused, stating that ITN had demanded public sector cuts, a zero-point budget deficit and the privatisation of the Bulgarian Development Bank as policy - demands that the ministers did not agree with.[14]

Plans for a coalition formed around opposition to GERB were quickly dashed, as ITN declared that it would not take part in any coalition and would only rule by itself, with a "government of experts" consisting only of ITN party members. This immediately triggered backlash both politically and among the broader population, both due to the usage of power politics and the fact that ITN's proposed "government of change" was staffed largely by retired ex-NDSV politicians with a poor reputation among Bulgarians.[15] The party proposed one of its own members,[citation needed] Nikolay Vasilev, for the post of Prime Minister. The proposal proved controversial and did not attract any political support. Moreover, Trifonov was widely criticised for not taking part in political negotiations, instead only communicating through Facebook posts. Trifonov rejected the criticism, stating that he would continue communicating through the social network, but sacked Vasilev's candidacy and promised to "renovate" his cabinet proposal. Bulgaria's remaining political parties stated that they would refuse to comment on Facebook posts and would wait for a formal political announcement.[16][17]

The party then designated another prime ministerial candidate, Plamen Nikolov, who was revealed to have been chosen at a TV casting "for politicians" and had no prior political experience, also proving to be an unpopular candidate.[18][19] More controversy then emerged, after an Austrian publication challenged a claim placed on Nikolov's profile page of him being an alumnus of the University of Klagenfurt in Austria. According to the publication, Nikolov's name did not appear in the university's student or graduate databases, nor in the Austrian Library Association archive, which maintains all works published by students in the country.[20] In response, Nikolov stated that he had not graduated from the university, but only defended a postgraduate research project there.[21] ITN's proposed single-party government did not find support among any of Bulgaria's other political parties. Following this revelation, Trifonov accused Democratic Bulgaria and Stand Up.BG! We are coming! of "betrayal" and withdrew his proposition, stating that ITN would in turn vote against any and all other proposed governments, regardless of composition.[22][23] The party's deputy further stated that those parties could be considered "political genders" if they then attempted to form a government.[24][25] This caused a small-scale constitutional crisis, as Bulgarian law did not explicitly provide the opportunity for a party to withdraw a nomination it had already made before voting. Bulgaria's parliamentarians attempted to remedy this and set up a legal mechanism through which it can be done, which had to be approved through a simple majority. This attempt failed, as ITN and GERB refused to attend the session and vote on the withdrawal. Following a second vote, the withdrawal was finally accepted and the proposed government was withdrawn.[26] The party then refused to support any other parliamentary party's government proposal, leading once again to a parliamentary deadlock and snap elections.[27]

November 2021 election and coalitionEdit

Following the 2021 Bulgarian general election, ITN suffered a major electoral defeat, losing more than 2/3 of its elected deputies and falling from first to fifth place in terms of both votes received and parliamentary representation. This forced the party into negotiations and subsequently led to a government being formed with ITN as the junior partner in a coalition comprising themselves, We Continue the Change, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Democratic Bulgaria.[28] Despite being granted four ministries, ITN did not get along well with its coalition partners. It shook the coalition as it introduced a competing candidate for director of the Bulgarian National Bank to run against the coalition's candidate[29] and opposed the government's handling of Bulgaria–North Macedonia relations.[30]

Withdrawal from government and splitEdit

On June 8, 2022, ITN withdrew its support for the coalition government led by Kiril Petkov after a dispute over the allocation of the government budget that compounded over previous disagreements.[31] It helped the opposition remove the pro-government parliamentary speaker from his position,[32] and subsequently voted in favor of a motion of no confidence against the Petkov Government brought by the opposition, leading to its adoption with 123 votes in favor to 116 opposed. The consequent collapse of Petkov's government made it the first government to be brought down by a no confidence vote in Bulgaria's modern history.[33]

In regard to ITN's decision to withdraw from the government and the ruling coalition, 5 of their MPs left the party's parliamentary group on 13 June and were congratulated by Kiril Petkov. ITN and the secessionists held briefings on which they labeled each other "mafia". ITN and the ruling We Continue the Change did the same with each other too.[34] The 5 MPs that left ITN's group declared that they will continue to support the ruling coalition. ITN said that the secessionists were "bought" by Kiril Petkov in order for the ruling coalition to not fall and that his party was making attempts to "buy" more ITN MPs. On 17 June another MP from ITN's group left them and joined the other 5 secessionists.[35]

Ideology and platformEdit

Political positionEdit

Trifonov initially refused to position his party as either left or right, neither liberal nor conservative. When pressed by a journalist during an interview, he revealed that he opposed both progressive taxation and the Istanbul Convention on women's rights. When the journalist asked Trifonov if he thought that those positions were not right-wing, conservative opinions, Trifonov admitted that his party would be "more likely conservative".[36] Trifonov also stated that he was personally a right-winger, also opining that "whatever is good for the EU and NATO is also good for our motherland".[37] Later, ITN stated that it would not support any government proposed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (which had been granted the mandate to do so by the Bulgarian President), regardless of composition, largely because ITN considered the BSP a left-wing party.[38] Economically, the party considered Asen Vasilev, the economics minister designated by Stefan Yanev's caretaker government, as being "too leftist".[39]

ITN has increasingly been identified with European nationalist movements.[40]

Health, vaccines, and the COVID-19 pandemicEdit

Deutsche Welle describes ITN as a party that could "turn anti-vax into state policy", stating that the party's parliamentary head, Toshko Yordanov, had supported and spread anti-vaccination conspiracy theories in parliament by claiming that vaccines do not reduce COVID-19 transmission.[41] Trifonov rejected the accusation, stating that he would "not flirt with anti-vaxxers ... as that would be like flirting with death", adding that he himself is vaccinated against COVID-19.[38] Despite this, ITN declared that recently adopted relaxations of COVID-19 measures for vaccinated individuals represented "discrimination" against non-vaccinated citizens and called for their abolition.[42] Bulgaria's health minister, Stoycho Katsarov, defended the measures, stating that no additional lockdown measures had been introduced for those not vaccinated, merely relaxed for those that were.[43] ITN also opposed an order by the health minister, which allowed local health authorities to impose additional lockdown measures and potentially require some schoolchildren to wear protective facemasks in in-person lessons during pandemic peaks.[44] The party defined as "tyranny" an order by Plovdiv's Medical University that required students attending in-person lectures to either present vaccination certificates or recently conducted COVID-19 tests.[45]

Policy platformEdit

Election resultsEdit

National Assembly
Election Votes % Seats +/– Government
Apr 2021 564,989 17.36 (#2)
51 / 240
New Snap election
Jul 2021 657,824 24.08 (#1)
65 / 240
  14 Snap election
Nov 2021 249,726 9.39 (#5)
25 / 240
  40 Coalition (2021–2022)

NotesEdit

  1. ^ sometimes translated as There Is Such A Nation

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "The Many Forms of Celebrity Populism in Eastern Europe". Europe Elects. 2020-07-25. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  2. ^ Tanev, Mario (26 April 2021). "There Is Such a People party to return mandate to form Bulgaria's next govt". SeeNews.
  3. ^ "Bulgaria: An Overview". Congressional Research Service. 6 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Слави Трифонов: Направеното от ГЕРБ трябва да бъде изчегъртано". bnr.bg (in Bulgarian). BNR. 8 May 2021.
  5. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2021). "Bulgaria". Parties and Elections in Europe.
  6. ^ "Bulgaria | Center for Strategic and International Studies".
  7. ^ "Former Talk Show Host Slavi Trifonov Establishes "There's No Such State" Political Party". BTA. 5 October 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Окончателно: Отказват регистрация на партия "Няма такава държава"". bTV Новините: Новини (in Bulgarian). 2020-01-21. Retrieved 2020-08-06.
  9. ^ "С какво ще запомним 45-ото Народно събрание". Vesti.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  10. ^ "ИТН предлага за премиер шахматистка и ще върне мандата. Какви са следващите ходове? - По света и у нас - БНТ Новини". bntnews.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  11. ^ ""Изборите възвестяват парализа", "Без ясен победител" - западните медии за вота у нас - България". dariknews.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  12. ^ "Позитивната предизборна кампания". www.bta.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  13. ^ "Трифонов няма да се кандидатира за парламента". nova.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  14. ^ "Защо трима служебни министри отказаха да се включат в бъдещо правителство на ИТН? - По света и у нас - БНТ Новини". bntnews.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  15. ^ "Snap Elections Fail to Calm Bulgaria's Political Instability". Balkan Insight. 2021-07-15. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  16. ^ Хаджийски, Георги Пауновски, Васил (2021-07-15). "След изборите: Трифонов оттегли Николай Василев и ще ревизира проектокабинета си (хронология)". Dnevnik (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  17. ^ news.bg (2021-07-15). "Слави Трифонов се отказа от Николай Василев". News.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  18. ^ "Ще успее ли Пламен Николов да стане министър-председател". Свободна Европа (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  19. ^ "Пламен Николов от "Има такъв народ" получи мандат за съставяне на правителство". Свободна Европа (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  20. ^ "Австрийският университет от визитката на Пламен Николов няма данни той да е учил там". Mediapool.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  21. ^ "PM Designate". www.bta.bg. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  22. ^ "Слави Трифонов оттегля проектокабинета, няма да подкрепи друго правителство". Lex.bg News (in Bulgarian). 2021-08-10. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  23. ^ Capital.bg. "Трифонов оттегли правителството си и пое към нов предсрочен вот". www.capital.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  24. ^ Digital, Studio X. "Тошко Йорданов бесен заради отказа от подкрепа: Политически джендъри". www.monitor.bg. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  25. ^ "Тошко Йорданов: ДБ и ИБГНИ са долни политически "джендъри" | Dnes.bg". www.dnes.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  26. ^ "ОТ ВТОРИЯ ОПИТ: Депутатите приеха оттеглянето на проектоправителството на ИТН". nova.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  27. ^ Nikolov, Krassen (2021-08-30). "Political crisis in Bulgaria to lead to third parliamentary elections this year". www.euractiv.com. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  28. ^ "4 parties agree to form coalition government in Bulgaria". www.aa.com.tr. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  29. ^ "Ruling coalition divided over nomination for Bulgarian National Bank governor". bnr.bg. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  30. ^ "Bulgarian Ruling Coalition Cracks over North Macedonia Dispute". Balkan Insight. 2022-06-08. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  31. ^ Reuters (2022-06-08). "Bulgaria's ITN party exits coalition government". Reuters. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  32. ^ staff, The Sofia Globe (2022-06-16). "'Mafia out': Protests at ouster of Speaker of Bulgaria's Parliament, as no-confidence motion looms". The Sofia Globe. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  33. ^ Sofia, Reuters in (2022-06-22). "Bulgaria's pro-western government collapses after just six months". the Guardian. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  34. ^ "Василев: Мафията проби в ИТН". NOVA. 13 June 2022. Retrieved 14 June 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  35. ^ "Кирил Симеонов се отцепи от ИТН: Не искам да се свързвам с ГЕРБ". Bulgaria ON AIR. 17 June 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ Дневник (2021-05-08). "Слави Трифонов: Утре или след година ГЕРБ ще бъдат изчегъртани, логично е". Dnevnik (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  37. ^ "Слави Трифонов: Направеното от ГЕРБ трябва да бъде изчегъртано". frognews.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  38. ^ a b "Слави Трифонов: Никой не стои зад "Има такъв народ", освен нейните избиратели и аз". Vesti.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  39. ^ "Икономическите наброски на ИТН са лутане между ляво, дясно и безумно". Mediapool.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  40. ^ Bulgaria's new anti-establishment party nearly tied with GERB in polls before Sunday vote. Reuters. May 7, 2021. https://www.euronews.com/2021/07/05/us-bulgaria-election-poll
  41. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Може ли антиваксърството да стане държавна политика? | DW | 30.07.2021". DW.COM (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  42. ^ "ИТН се обяви срещу привилегиите за ваксинирани в противоепидемичните мерки". Mediapool.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  43. ^ "Здравният министър: Никакви ограничения не са наложени, точно обратното". Investor.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  44. ^ "ИТН към Кацаров: Г-н министър, отменете заповедта за противоепидемичните мерки - България". dariknews.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  45. ^ "ИТН видяха "тирания" във ваксинирането". bTV Новините. Retrieved 2021-09-01.