The Bulgarian Socialist Party (Bulgarian: Българска социалистическа партия, romanized: Balgarska sotsialisticheska partiya, BSP), also known as The Centenarian (Bulgarian: Столетницата, romanized: Stoletnitsata), is a centre-left,social democraticpolitical party in Bulgaria. The BSP is a member of the Socialist International, Party of European Socialists, and Progressive Alliance. It is Bulgaria’s oldest political party and can trace its political heritage back to the founding of the BRDSP in 1891. It is also Bulgaria’s largest party by membership numbers.
The Centenarian moniker comes from the fact that the BSP is recognized as the successor of the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party, which was founded on 2 August 1891 on Buzludzha peak by Dimitar Blagoev, designated in 1903 as the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (Narrow Socialists), and later as the Bulgarian Communist Party. After the political changes brought by the Revolutions of 1989, it abandoned Marxism–Leninism and refounded itself as the BSP in April 1990.
The party formed a government after the 1990 Bulgarian Constitutional Assembly election but was forced to resign after a general strike that December. A non-partisan government led by Dimitar Iliev Popov took over until the 1991 Bulgarian parliamentary election later in October. In the aftermath, the party was confined to opposition. As part of the Democratic Left coalition, a forerunner of the BSP for Bulgaria, it helped form a new government in 1995, headed by BSP leader Zhan Videnov as the prime minister of Bulgaria. Large-scale demonstrations in the cities and a general strike prevented the formation of a new socialist government after its term ended at the end of 1996. The country had entered into a spiral of hyperinflation, the most serious economic and financial crisis in its recent history, after the shock therapy and privatization policies, also followed to various degrees by other post-Communist countries.
In the 2001 Bulgarian presidential election, party chairman Georgi Parvanov was elected the president of Bulgaria on the second round, defeating on the second ballot incumbent candidate Petar Stoyanov from the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS). Parvanov resigned as party chairman and was succeeded by Sergey Stanishev. It was a break of the two-party system between the BSP and the SDS.
After two full terms out of power (1997–2001), the BSP-led Coalition for Bulgaria won the 2005 Bulgarian parliamentary election with 31.0% of the vote but without a governing majority, and formed the Stanishev Government, headed by the prime minister and BSP chairman Stanishev, with the centrist and social-liberal parties National Movement Simeon II and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), respectively. In the 2006 Bulgarian presidential election, Parvanov was re-elected in a landslide, becoming the first Bulgarian president to do so in direct elections. In 2007, Bulgaria joined the European Union. The governing BSP-led coalition lost millions of euros of financial aid in the wake of allegations of widespread political corruption. The cabinet was also unable to react to the encroaching global financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its term ended with a budget deficit after several successive surplus years.
In the 2009 Bulgarian parliamentary election, the BSP was defeated by the new conservative party GERB, obtaining 37 out of 240 parliamentary seats (18%), and went into opposition. GERB assumed power through an anti-communist and anti-Turkish platform, calling the previous BSP-led government communist even though, as written in Jacobin by sociologist Jana Tsoneva, that government “had introduced some of the most radical neoliberal policies.” In the 2013 Bulgarian parliamentary election, the party took 26.6% of the votes, second behind GERB with 30.5%. Plamen Oresharski, the party’s candidate for prime minister, and the Oresharski Government were elected with the parliament support of the BSP and the DPS. The appointment of the controversial media mogul Delyan Peevski as head of the state security agency DANS sparked large-scale protests on 14 June.Protests against the Oresharski cabinet continued until the government resigned in July 2014. In the 2017 Bulgarian parliamentary election, the BSP made big gains but not enough to govern, as GERB made smaller gains as well, and the party remained in opposition to the Third Borisov Government, which included the far right United Patriots.
The BSP supported the 2020–2021 Bulgarian protests and led the left-wing opposition for a failed non-confidence vote. The protests ended when the prime minister Boyko Borisov resigned, but results after the April 2021 Bulgarian parliamentary election proved to be fragmented. After failed attempts from the BSP to form a government in the aftermath of an inconclusive July 2021 Bulgarian parliamentary election, the political crisis continued, as no government without the participation of Borissov could be formed, despite an anti-GERB majority. In addition, Korneliya Ninova, the party leader since 2016, has faced internal struggle, as the party has not been in government since 2013; the BSP has hesitated, depending on public opinion, between backing and rejecting There Is Such a People, the populist party created ahead of the anti-government protests and with the most seats. A third snap election for November 2021, this time also at the presidential level (2021 Bulgarian general election), ensued to solve the crisis. Following the election, Ninova decided to step down again although she will remain the chairman of BSP until the next party congress which will be held in January.