East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview
2.
The electoral system allocates seats in Parliament according to population, from thirty-one electoral districts. The system has at least two peculiarities that will shape Bulgarian politics and government in the future. First, through proportional representation, it encourages the formation of small parties. Second, because of a requirement that a party poll at least four percent nationwide to send a representative to Parliament, a sizable percentage of the ballots cast do not contribute to the make-up of the chamber. For example, the main faction of the Bulgarian Agrarian Popular Movement, which ran well in some localities and which was widely expected to be of pivotal importance, received only 3.8% of the votes nationally and thus did not enter Parliament at all. The thirty some other parties also failed to qualify. In all about 25% of the votes went to parties that did not meet the 4% test. These votes were assigned to the three parties that did, proportional to their polled strength. Thus the MRF claimed 10% of parliamentary seats.
3.
MRF leaders and others often expansively refer to Bulgarian speaking Moslems as "Turks", but never similarly include Turkish-speaking Gypsies. Pomaks themselves are ambivalent. Few migrated to Turkey during the exodus in 1989 and there is little intermarriage with Turkish speakers. Ethnic Bulgarians often assert that the MRF pressures the Pomaks and Muslim Gypsies to consider themselves "Turks"; this is against stated MRF policy. For what it is worth, one Bulgarian news magazine reported that in the 1993 census some Bulgarian-speaking Moslems, under pressure from the MRF to identify themselves as Turks, chose to list themselves as "Chinese" ( Insider 1993, No. 2, p.38). It seems clear that notions of identity among Pomaks is complex and probably shifting. Many, it is asserted by Turkish-speaking teachers, wish to have their children study Turkish; generally, public school authorities prevent non-Turkish pupils from taking Turkish language courses (in the northeast, at least).
4.
In mid- 1992, though most of the land allocations had been posted in most villages under the names of the original owners who had contributed it to collectivization, very little had actually been surveyed and handed over (see Creed, this volume). In most cases, villagers simply formed now cooperatives as successors to the defunct collectives. These, in turn, were disallowed soon after the UDF government came to power. The result was confusion and paralysis as competing factions argued variously for one new cooperative versus numerous small ones.
5.
This, of course, directly contradicts the idea, forwarded by some Turkish leaders, that "Pomaks are really Turks." Another frequently noted reason for the lack of intermarriage between Pomak and Turkish Moslems is that the Bulgarian Moslems were targeted earlier for forced assimilation and that should inter-marriage occur, children would be unable to bear Moslem names. For whatever reason, the various Moslem communities in Bulgariahave historically been almost as isolated from one another as from the dominant Christian society. By one account, there are only 5,000 mixed marriages in the entire country ( Tomova and Bogoev 1992: 8).

References

Brown, J. F. 1989. "Conservatism and Nationalism in the Balkans: Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania." In W. E. Griffith, Ed. Central and Eastern Europe: The Opening Curtain. Boulder: Westview. pp. 283-313.

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