Movement for Rights and Freedoms

Published 27th September, 2011

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms or MRF or DPS was founded in 1990 with its roots in the minority Muslim ethnic Turkish community. The party describes itself as a centrist party which believes in liberalism and rights for minorities.

In their first electoral test, the MRF won 23 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly with 6.03% of the vote. A year later, in 1991 they won 24 seats and 7.6% of the vote but in a slimmed down 240 seat National Assembly.

By 1994 the part had been weakened by the launch of two breakaway groups and managed just 15 seats and 5.4% of the vote in the election that year.

Prior to the 1997 elections the MRF decided not to back the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) led United Democratic Forces (ODS) alliance and as a result there were further breakaways. The MRF headed the Union for National Salvation (ONS) alliance instead which took just 19 seats and 7.6% of the vote in the subsequent election.

In 1998 the MRF was involved in a four party launch of the Liberal Democratic Alliance and in 2000 the Party of Democratic Change (PDP) a former breakaway group rejoined the MRF.

In 2001 the MRF did slightly better with the support of the Liberal Union and the Euro-Roma formation. And won 21 seats with 7.4% of the vote. The party entered into a coalition with the National Movement Simeon II.

In February 2005 the party opposed the privatisation of the largest tobacco company in Bulgaria, a move which did it no harm, as it took 34 seats and 12.8% of the vote in the June election of that year.

In 2009 they did even better, taking 14.45% of the vote and 38 seats, probably in part because they have widened their membership beyond the minority ethnic vote.

In 2013 the Movement for Rights and Freedoms dropped two seats to 36 seats but went on to form a minority government with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). The next year was a troubled period with the opposition moving a series of no-confidence votes against the government and with street protests growing in intensity. Following poor European parliament election results for the BSP the government agreed to fresh elections for 5th October 2014.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms are members of Liberal International, European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party and in the European Parliament where they have four of the 17 national seats, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

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