|2nd President of Bulgaria|
1 August 1990 – 22 January 1997
|Vice President||Blaga Dimitrova|
|Preceded by||Petar Mladenov|
|Succeeded by||Petar Stoyanov|
3 March 1935 |
Zhelyu Mitev Zhelev (Bulgarian: Желю Митев Желев) (born March 3, 1935) is a Bulgarian politician and former dissident who was the first non-Communist President of Bulgaria. He was elected for his first mandate by the Parliament for the period 1990 to 1992. In January 1992 general elections were held, and he was reelected for his second term for the period of 1992 to 1997.
Zhelyu Zhelev was born March 3, 1935 in Veselinovo village, Shumen. He graduated with a degree in philosophy from the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" in 1958, and later earned a Ph.D. in 1974.
Zhelev was a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party, but was expelled from it for political reasons in 1965. He was also expelled from Sofia the following year and was unemployed for six years since all employment in Bulgaria was state-regulated.
In 1982 he published his controversial work The Fascism (Bulgarian: Фашизмът; Fashizmat). Three weeks after publication in 1982, the book was banned and removed from bookstores and libraries as it likened Bulgaria's socialist state to the country's fascist administration of World War II.
In 1988, just before the Fall of Communism, Zhelev founded the Ruse Committee, and in 1989 he became a founding member and chairman of the Club for Support of Openness and Reform (a time when many such democratic clubs were formed), which helped him to achieve the position of Chairman of the Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (Bulgarian: СДС, SDS) party.
MP and a President
Zhelev was elected MP in the 7th Grand National Assembly (July 1990); the Assembly's main goal was to create a new democratic Constitution of Bulgaria. He was elected by the Assembly as President of the Republic of Bulgaria on August 1, 1990--the country's first non-Communist head of state in 44 years.
Second presidential mandate
In January 1992 general presidential elections were held and Zhelev became the first Bulgarian President to be democratically elected during general elections, serving his second full five-year term until January 1997.
Presidential elections 1996
Later political career
After the 1996 election defeat and after the end of his presidency in 1997, Zhelev remained in politics, but on a much smaller scale. He became Honorary Chair of the Liberal Democratic Union and Honorary Chair of the Liberal International and in 1997 went on to establish and preside over a foundation named after him. Zhelev was the initiator and president of the Balkan Political Club, a union of former political leaders from Southeast Europe.
Zhelev has written a number of books and publications, the most notable one being his controversial 1981 work The Fascism. The book was removed from the bookshelves and destroyed a few weeks after it was published. This caught the attention of Bulgarian readers and as a result this became the best-read book between 1981 and 1989. A few people were arrested by the secret police for possessing it. The author was confined to his hometown, Shumen, and banned from public life.
The book analyzes the three classic fascist societies—Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Francoist Spain—and establishes five elements of a Fascist political system:
- Single party system with strong personality cult.
- Merger of the party apparatus with the state apparatus.
- Total espionage.
- System of repression (secret police with extraordinary authority and death camps).
The book does not pose any criticism of the Communist system in the former Soviet bloc and deals exclusively with well-known facts. However, the analysis of the abovementioned five elements of fascist countries clearly shows that the system of Communist countries is a mirror image of the fascist systems in sharp contrast with democratic countries, such as the United States and those in Western Europe.
World Justice Project
Zhelyu Zhelev serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project (ABA). The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.
- Zhelyu Zhelev - The dissident president at the Sofia Echo, by Ivan Vatahov, Apr 17 2003 (retrieved January 27, 2010)
|President of Bulgaria
1 August 1990 - 22 January 1997