- Movement for Rights and Freedoms
Movement for Rights and Freedoms
Движение за права и свободи
Leader Ahmed Dogan Founded 4 January 1990 Headquarters Sofia Ideology Turkish minority interest
Political position Centre International affiliation Liberal International European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party European Parliament Group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Official colours Blue National Assembly European Parliament Website dps.bg Politics of Bulgaria
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (Bulgarian: Движение за права и свободи, Dvizhenie za prava i svobodi; Turkish: Hak ve Özgürlükler Hareketi) is a centrist political party in Bulgaria, often described as an ethnic Turkish one. The MRF is a member of the Liberal International and considers itself a liberal party, rather like the Swedish People's Party - party of the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland. It has been chaired by Ahmed Dogan since its official establishment on 4 January 1990.
The party began as an underground organization in the 1980s by the name Turkish National Freedom Movement (Türk Millî Kurtuluş Hareketi) as a response to Todor Zhivkov's policy of forced bulgarization of the Turkish minority in the country.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms won in the 2001 elections 7.5% of the popular vote and 21 out of 240 seats. It subsequently joined the government led by former Bulgarian king Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of the National Movement Simeon II. At the 25 June 2005 elections it increased to 13.7% of the popular vote and 33 out of 240 seats and kept in power as a part of the coalition led by Sergey Stanishev. At the 2007 European Parliament elections the party won 20.26% of the popular vote and 4 MEPs out of 18. Two of the MEPs (Mariela Baeva, Vladko Panayotov) are ethnic Bulgarians.
On 8 October 1991, ninety-three members of Bulgaria's National Assembly — virtually all of them affiliated with the former Communist Party — asked the constitutional court to declare the MRF unconstitutional citing article 11.4 of the constitution which explicitly bans political parties "formed on ethnic, racial, and religious basis". On 21 April 1992, the court rejected the petition and affirmed the constitutionality of the MRF.
Even though the MRF has been legally a part of Bulgarian political life since then, some Bulgarian ultra-nationalists, particularly the far-right National Union Attack, continue to assert that it is anti-constitutional because it consists mainly of ethnic Turks.
However, the statute of the MRF states quite clearly that it "is an independent public and political organization, founded with the purpose of contributing to the unity of all Bulgarian citizens".
Additionally, supporters of MRF argue that banning parties on the basis of their ethnic composition constitutes an instance of ethnic discrimination and is in contravention to European law, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in particular to which Bulgaria is a signatory. Furthermore, despite a similar constitutional ban, religious parties, such as the Bulgarian Christian Coalition have competed for parliamentary elections since 1997, and again in 2005, without any political upheaval.
More recently, Antonina Zheliazkova, head of the Centre for Interethnic Relations in Sofia, praised Ahmed Dogan by stating that He has been working hard to open up the party to all citizens and has encouraged the MRF's supporters to be free to vote for non-ethnic parties.
Other Turkish political factions
At present there are three other tiny Turkish political factions that oppose the MRF’s politics. These groups — which united to form the Balkan Democratic League — are the Movement of the Democratic Wing (DDK), led by Osman Oktay; the Party for Democracy and Justice (PDS), led by Nedim Gencev; and the Union of the Bulgarian Turks (SBT), led by Seyhan Türkkan.
However, these movements, as well as the National Movement for Rights and Freedoms, member of a Social-Democratic coalition ('Rose coalition') failed to secure any elected representative, including through coalitions with non-ethnic parties, whereas the MRF became the third main Bulgarian party at the June 2005 parliamentary elections and entered a three-party coalition in August with the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the National Movement Simeon II.
Alleged manipulation of votes
The MRF was severely criticized by the Bulgarian ultra-nationalist party Attack as well as mainstream rightwing parties such as Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria and the Union of Democratic Forces and even by MRF coalition partners of the National Movement Simeon II for allegedly manipulating the vote in the June 2005 elections in some places by bringing Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin living in Turkey to vote in the elections. However, allegations of ethnic Turks coming to vote in Bulgaria at their permanent address and then returning to Turkey to vote with their passports, could not be "verified or confirmed" by international observers, whose assessment on the election was that it was free and fair. 
Liberal party opposing privatization
In February 2005, the MRF opposed the privatisation of Bulgaria's largest tobacco company, Bulgartabak, which was backed by the government and the European Union, as on the grounds that the industry traditionally employs ethnic Turks. The resulting crisis led to the resignation of vice premier Lidia Shuleva.
References and notes
- ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria". www.parliament.bg. http://www.parliament.bg/?page=const&lng=en. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
- ^ ""History, Politics and the Constitution: Ethnic Conflict and Constitutional Adjudication in Postcommunist Bulgaria", Slavic Review, Vol. 63, No. 1 (Spring, 2004), pp. 66-89". www.jstor.org. http://www.jstor.org/pss/1520270. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
- ^ "Statute of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms". dps.bg. http://dps.bg/cgi-bin/e-cms/vis/vis.pl?s=001&p=0413&n=000004&g=. Retrieved 2009-03-21. [dead link]
- ^ a b c "Bulgaria: Turkish Party Urged to Rethink Policies* - Novinite.com — Sofia News Agency". www.novinite.com. http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=47790. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
- Political machine
- List of liberal parties
- Political parties of minorities
- Liberalism and radicalism in Bulgaria
- Turks in Bulgaria
- Movement for Rights and Freedoms official site
Political parties in Bulgaria Parties in the
(240 seats)Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (117) · Coalition for Bulgaria (40: Bulgarian Socialist Party · Party of Bulgarian Social Democrats · Agrarian Union "Aleksandar Stamboliyski" · Movement for Social Humanism) · Movement for Rights and Freedoms (37) · National Union Attack (21) · Blue Coalition (15: Union of Democratic Forces · Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria · United Agrarians) · Order, Law and Justice (10)
Parties in the
partiesAgrarian People's Union · Bulgarian Agrarian People's Union · Bulgarian New Democracy · Bulgarian Left · Civil Union "Roma" · For the Homeland · George's Day Movement · Green Party of Bulgaria · IMRO – Bulgarian National Movement · Lider · Movement for an Equal Public Model · National Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland · National Front for Salvation of Bulgaria · New Time · Political Movement "Social Democrats" · Party of the Liberal Alternative and Peace · Union of the Bulgarian Patriots · The Greens · The Other Bulgaria · Union of Free Democrats · Union of the Patriotic Forces "Defense"
Defunct parties Portal:Politics · List of political parties · Politics of Bulgaria Member parties of international liberal organisations Liberal International
Andorra: PLA • Angola: PLD • Argentina: Recrear* • Austria: LIF • Belgium: MR, VLD • Bulgaria: DPS, NDSV • Burkina Faso: ADF-RDA* • Cambodia: PSR* • Canada: Liberal Party • DR Congo: ANADER* • Costa Rica: PML • Côte d'Ivoire: RDR • Croatia: HNS-LD*, HSLS • Cuba: ULC, PSD • Denmark: RV, Venstre • Equatorial Guinea: UDENA • Estonia: Reform • Finland: Keskusta, SFP • Georgia: RPG* • Germany: FDP • Gibraltar: Liberal Party • Guatemala: MR* • Honduras: PLH • Hungary: SzDSz • Iceland: FSF • Israel: Shinui • Italy: FdLI* • Kenya: LDP* • Kosovo: PLK* • Latvia: LC • Lithuania: LCU, NU-SL* • Luxembourg: DP • Macedonia: LDP • Madagascar: MFM* • Malawi: UDF • Mali: PCR* • Mexico: NA* • Moldova: PSL • Montenegro: LSCG • Morocco: AdL*, UC, MP • Netherlands: D66 , VVD • Nicaragua: ALN* • Norway: Venstre • Paraguay: PLRA • Philippines: LP • Romania: PNL • Russia: Yabloko • Senegal: PDS • Serbia: LS • Seychelles: SNP* • Slovakia: ANO • Slovenia: LDS • South Africa: DA • Spain: UM • Sri Lanka: LP • Sweden: Cp*, FpL • Switzerland: FDP.The Liberals • Taiwan: DPP • Tanzania: CCW/CUF • Tunisia: PSL* • United Kingdom: APNI • Lib Dems • Zambia: UNDP** Observer
National groups: Brazilian Group* • German Group • Israeli Group • Italian Group* • Netherlands Group • Catalan Group • British Group
European Liberal Democrat and Reform PartyAndorra: LPA • Austria: LIF • Belgium: MR, VLD • Bosnia and Herzegovina: LDS • Bulgaria: DPS, NSDV • Croatia: HNS-LD, HSLS, IDS • Cyprus: ΕD • Czech Republic: ODA • Denmark: RV , Venstre • Estonia: Kesk, Reform • Finland: Keskusta, SFP • Germany: FDP • Hungary: SzDSz • Ireland: FF • Italy: MRE, RAD, PRI, IDV • Kosovo: PLK • Latvia: LC • Lithuania: LCU, LRLS, NS-SL • Luxembourg: DP • Macedonia: LPM, LDP • Moldova: AMN • Netherlands: D66, VVD • Norway: Venstre • Poland: PD • Romania: PNL • Russia: Yabloko • Serbia: LS • Slovakia: ANO • Slovenia: LDS • Spain: CDC, UM • Sweden: Cp, FpL • Switzerland: FDP.The Liberals • United Kingdom: APNI, Lib Dems
Youth organisation: LYMEC
Other parties in the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe EP Group Liberal South East European Network Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats Africa Liberal Network Liberal Network for Latin America
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