Union of Democratic Forces

Published 27th September, 2011

The Union of Democratic Forces or SDS or UDF was founded in 1989 from ten pro-democracy groups, further groups joined later. The party describes itself as centre-right and believes in Conservatism and Christian Democracy.

In the first democratic elections in 1990 the SDS came second to the former communists, taking 144 of the 400 seats in the Grand National Assembly with 36.2% of the vote. This period was a time of internal turmoil for the party, partly due to the wide constituency of its constituent parts.

Nevertheless, in 1991 the party was able to pull itself together and won the election, taking 110 of the 240 seats in a slimmed down National Assembly. For a while there was a calmer period within the party, but by 1994 further divisions led to 32 Deputies being expelled from the party and the defection of one of the constituent parties, the Democratic Party.

As a result of their divisions the SDS were trounced in the December 1994 elections, taking just 69 seats and 24% of the vote. That resulted in more internal turmoil, but under the leadership of Ivan Kostov they consolidated and in 1996 their candidate. Petar Stoyanov, won the presidential election.

In 1997, they did even better. Having formed an alliance with the Democratic Party and Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union – People’s Union (BZNS – NS) called the United Democratic Forces (ODS) they took 137 of the 240 seats and 55% of the vote.

The ODS government was the first government to serve a full four year term since the fall of communism. However, allegations of corruption and low living standards saw it lose the 2001 election, taking just 51 seats and 18.2% of the vote. The defeat saw the slow disintegration of the ODS as a coalition, although in the 2005 elections they fought in a six party ODS coalition, but taking just 20 seats and 7.7% of the vote.

In early 2009 the ODS had gone and the Union of Democratic Forces had formed a new coalition, the Blue Coalition which included five parties. Under the new title they fought the July 2009 election winning just 15 seats and 6.76% of the vote.

In the 2013 general election the SDS lost all representation in the National Assembly.

The Union of Democratic Forces are members of the International Democrat Union and the Christian Democrat International. They are also members of the European People’s Party.

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