Sergei Stanishev

Social Democracy: Fit for the Future

How to take social democracy and Europe forward to a future which looks both exciting and terrifying.

By Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists, 2011-2022

In 2022, PES celebrates 30 years since its establishment as a European political party. When celebrating an anniversary, one naturally looks back and reflects on the path followed, and
forward – to the way which is yet to come. So in the run-up to the PES Congress in October 2022, Sergei Stanishev went through our previous policy documents, resolutions and manifestos, back to the PES Fundamental Programme of 2013 and the 3-year process of its creation beforehand.

What I found confirmed my conviction that we have done a great deal of things, and they were the right things. That the path we have chosen is a consistent one, and we have stood true to our moral compass, to our values and principles. And this is not an abstract claim – it is demonstrated by every single position, initiative or legislation adopted, supported or amended by us. I have also found that we have a good understanding of the issues which will define our future and we are well equipped to lead Europeans towards it. This is no small achievement, in view of all the turbulences the EU and the world have faced for the past 10 years or so.

Sergei Stanishev

Sergei Stanishev was one of the most successful prime ministers of Bulgaria, and leader of the Bulgarian Socialist party for 13 years. He is the former president of the Party of European Socialists and currently a member of the European Parliament. He was born in 1966, has a PhD in History and has done visiting fellowship in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to his political career he worked as a journalist.

Mr Stanishev started his political career in 1996 as international secretary of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, and in 2001 was elected as a Member of the Bulgarian Parliament. In December 2001 he was elected as leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (Chairman of the National Council) and then re-elected in 2002, 2005 and 2009. Mr Stanishev led the Bulgarian Socialists for 13 years until 2014, twice winning for the party both presidential and parliamentary elections.

He was Prime Minister of Bulgaria from 2005 to 2009. During his term Bulgaria became a member of the European Union and achieved one of the biggest growths in GDP for the last 25 years. Currently, Mr Stanishev is a second term Member of the European Parliament. From 2014 till 2019 he was a chairman of the Bulgarian delegation within the Socialists and Democrats group.

From 2002 to 2009 Mr Stanishev was a member of the Presidency of the Party of European Socialists. He became Interim President in November 2011, was elected President in September 2012 and re-elected in 2015 and 2018. During his term as president, the PES launched its first pan-European campaign for a common candidate for president of the European Commission, Martin Schulz, and also adopted the PES Manifesto – a common document for all Socialist, Democrat and Labour parties in the European Union. In 2019 the PES supported Frans Timmermans as its common candidate for president of the European Commission after a successful campaign throughout the European Union.

Mr Stanishev’s priorities for the PES included promoting and developing the PES alternative to austerity only policies, based on creating jobs and investing in sustainable projects that can ensure a return to growth, fighting youth unemployment, protecting democracy where it is under threat across Europe, and continuing the PES renewal process underway. Stanishev was at the core of the 21 progressive proposals for COP 21 in Paris in 2015. In early 2016, Mr Stanishev launched the European Youth Plan, a major policy initiative which brings together all PES member parties on a single pan-European agenda to improve the chances of the next generation.

As President, Mr Stanishev was central to the highly successful PES campaign for European elections in 2019, campaigning alongside PES common candidate Frans Timmermans across the EU. PES member parties received over 35,000,000 votes. Following the election, many central parts of the PES campaign were integrated into the programme for the new European Commission, notably the European Green Deal.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic which hit Europe in early 2020, Mr Stanishev was one of the first high-level figures to call for a massive EU recovery plan to address the social and economic consequences of the crisis. European leaders subsequently adopted the NextGenerationEU recovery plan.

Sergei Stanishev, President of the PES