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Friday, 6 April, 2001, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Ex-king to fight Bulgarian election
Former King Simeon II
The former king has captured the public imagination
The former king of Bulgaria has announced he will take part in the country's general election in June.


It is neither morally nor politically justified that most Bulgarians live in misery while certain politicians are drowning in opulence

Ex-King Simeon II
Ex-King Simeon II, now a Madrid-based businessman, has said he will go to the polls as the leader of a new political group, pledging to fight poverty and corruption.

"Today I announce my intention to found and lead a new political movement, the National Movement for King Simeon II," he said.

"The movement will be baptised at the parliamentary election".

Serious challenger

The former king first returned to his homeland six years ago, to a rapturous public welcome.

"It is neither morally nor politically justified that most Bulgarians live in misery... while certain politicians are drowning in opulence; nor that tens of thousands of our sons and daughters flee Bulgaria because they see no prospects here," he said announcing his party's candidacy.

The election is expected to be a close-run contest between the ruling reformists and the opposition socialists, who are mainly former communists.

But polls suggest the former king's party could get around 20% of the vote, as the current government's austerity measures have left many people disenchanted.

Earlier this year, the constitutional court banned him from contesting presidential elections as he had not lived in Bulgaria for long enough leaving him legislative polls as the only alternative.

The former king said he was looking forward to serving his country.

He became King at the age of six but his reign was cut short after three years when the communists took power and abolished the monarchy, causing him to flee into exile.

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See also:

15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bulgaria
15 Jan 01 | Europe
Timeline: Bulgaria
04 Apr 01 | Europe
Ex-king to unveil political plans
28 Jan 01 | Europe
Italy's last queen dies
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