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Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov has asked the country's former king, Simeon II, to form a new government. Mr. Stoyanov issued the mandate Sunday, nearly a month after the former monarch's National Movement party won the most votes in general elections. Prime Minister designate Simeon Saxe-Coburgotski - better known by his royal name, Simeon II - is the first former monarch in Eastern Europe since the collapse of Communism a decade ago, to return to power. Several other former monarchs from Albania, Yugoslavia, Montenegro and Romania also have close contacts with political movements, but have not moved on to government positions.

The 64-year old prime minister-designate, was crowned King of Bulgaria during World War II, in 1943, after the sudden death of his father, King Boris. He was six years old. He soon lost the throne, following a 1946 referendum, which was widely believed to have been rigged by the then-Communist regime.

Simeon was generally viewed as either a pragmatist or an opportunist. There is little evidence of strongly-held political ideology and his decisions -or even the issues he takes interest in- are difficult to predict. The Prime Minister listened to a small number of official and unofficial advisors, but appears to decide most issues for himself. Even those high in the government structure indicate they have few insights into how Party decisions are made.

Son of King Boris III and Queen Giovanna, Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha was born on June 16, 1937 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Upon the sudden death of King Boris III on August 28, 1943, the 6-year old Simeon acceded to the throne as Tsar* Simeon II. A three-member Council of Regency was formed to govern Bulgaria on his behalf. Following the communist coup on September 9, 1944, Simeon II remained on the throne but the regents, including his uncle Prince Kyril, along with the core of the countrys intellectuals, were executed. In 1946, a referendum forced King Simeon II, his sister Princess Maria Luisa and the Queen Mother Giovanna to leave Bulgaria. Without abdicating, the young King was to spend long years of exile. The family settled first in Alexandria, Egypt. The choice was not accidental. The Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, the father of the Queen Mother Giovanna, lived there in exile. Simeon II was enrolled at the Victoria College in Egypt.

In July 1951, the Spanish Government granted asylum to the exiled Bulgarian royal family. In Madrid, Simeon II graduated from the Lyce Franais and read law and political sciences. In 1958-1959 he enrolled at the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in the United States, where he graduated as second lieutenant. In 1962 Simeon II married a Spanish aristocrat, Doa Margarita Gmez-Acebo y Cejuela. They have five children four sons and a daughter.

Simeon II Saxe-Coburg Gotha maintained broad international contacts with the business community and his manifold activities have led him to travel frequently worldwide. Throughout the years of exile he closely followed developments in his country and kept abreast of everything regarding Bulgaria. He worked actively with Bulgarian emigrants worldwide and helped many fellow countrymen.

In 1996 Simeon II paid a maiden visit to Bulgaria after almost 50 years of exile. In 1998, the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria ruled to restore to his family the royal estates, which had been nationalized by the communists.

On April 6, 2001 Simeon II proclaimed his decision to return for good and to contribute actively to the countrys revival, by employing the experience and contacts he had amassed in exile. In a historic address to the Bulgarian nation he proclaimed his intention to form a new political entity the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII). When the Movement was first formed in 2001, it drew support almost equally from the Left and the Right, and key figures such as Finance Minister Milen Velchev and Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov have Socialist pedigrees in either their own or their family background. Velchev, whose father was a Communist Party official, became close friends with current Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev when the two lived in London during the 1990's. As the leader of the Movement, after overcoming the stumbling blocks on the way to registering the Movement in court, the Bulgarian King joined the parliamentary elections on June 17, 2001.

After a landslide victory for the NMSII, Simeon II Saxe-Coburg Gotha was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria on July 24, 2001. The National Movement is just one seat short of an outright majority in Bulgaria's Parliament and has been holding talks about a possible governing coalition with the former ruling Union of Democratic Forces and with the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom.

President Petar Stoyanov gave Simeon Saxe-Coburgotski a mandate to form a new Cabinet, at a difficult time in Bulgaria. The former monarch is confronted with a country suffering from an 18 percent unemployment rate and with about 70 percent of Bulgaria's just over eight million population living at or below the poverty line. Saxe-Corburgotski admitted that becoming Prime Minister will be, in his words, a "difficult and complicated task." But the ex-King said he wants to make good on his promises to increase prosperity in Bulgaria, which he hopes to integrate into the European Union and NATO. Critics questioned Mr. Saxe-Corbutgotski's political credentials. But his supporters argue that the business contacts from his previous career will only help to move Bulgaria forward.

He completed a successful 4-year term of office in a government coalition with the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) the first post-communist cabinet to end its mandate with enhanced public approval. During the term of the NMSII governance, Bulgaria attained the strategic national ideals of joining NATO and signing the Treaty of Accession to the European Union.

Despite its four years in power, the NMSS remained far more a "Movement" than a political party. There was still little party organization and Simeon's (frequently absent) leadership style gave substantial power to individual ministers. Party discipline was rarely evident, yet Simeon commands great personal loyalty and party leaders immediately defered to his decisions. Much of the political class, believed Simeon wants badly to serve another term and had difficulty envisioning the ex-King as an opposition leader. For his part, Simeon assured the nation he is here to stay, but remains enigmatic about his specific intentions.

Following the 2005 parliamentary elections, Simeon II Saxe-Coburg Gotha joined the ruling Council of the tripartite coalition of BSP (Bulgarian Socialist Party), NMSII and MRF, which formed the cabinet. There were rumors that parts of the Socialist Party would prefer Simeon to BSP leader Sergei Stanishev as leader of the next government. A lack of confidence in the 39 year-old Stanishev to either control his party or lead a successful government regularly fuel reports that he would not be the Socialists, first choice. Many viewed Simeon -- with his hands-off management style -- as an acceptable alternative as long as the Socialists get control of key ministries.

The coalition agreement is the culmination of extensive negotiations with the defeated party of outgoing PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg. Simeon would play no role in the new government, but will retain his position as party leader. The outgoing PM told the press that NMSS has joined the coalition with the assurance that Council of Ministers' decisions will be taken by consensus.

By a Presidential Decree of June 15, 2001, Simeon II Saxe-Coburg Gotha was awarded the highest state distinction the Stara Planina Order First Degree for his exceptional service to Bulgaria. Simeon II Saxe-Coburg Gotha has been decorated with more than 30 other distinctions, including the highest class of the Royal and Distinguished Spanish Order of Carlos III, the Grand Officer class of the French Legion of Honor, the Belgian Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold II, the Islamic Grand Cross of the Order of Independence of Jordan, the Greek Grand Cross of the Saviour, the Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta, Kinght of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight Grand-Cross of Honour and Devotion, as well as with the highest classes of a number of European Dynastic orders.





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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:04:23 ZULU