Bulgarian Communist Party
|First leader||Dimitar Blagoev|
|Last leader||Alexander Lilov|
|Dissolved||3 April 1990|
|Split from||Bulgarian Workers' Social Democratic Party|
|Succeeded by||Bulgarian Socialist Party|
|Headquarters||Sofia, People's Republic of Bulgaria|
|Youth wing||Workers Youth League|
|European affiliation||Balkan Communist Federation (1921–1939)|
|International affiliation||Comintern (1919–1943), Cominform (1948–1956)|
The Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) (Българска Комунистическа Партия, Balgarska Komunisticheska Partiya; БКП, BKP) was the Communist and Marxist-Leninist ruling party of the People's Republic of Bulgaria from 1946 until 1989 when the country ceased to be a communist state. The Bulgarian Communist Party had dominated the Fatherland Front coalition that took power in 1944, late in World War II, after it led a Coup against Bulgaria's tsarist regime in conjunction with the Red Army's crossing the border.
The party's origins lay in the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers' Party (Tesnyatsi) (Tesni Socialisti, "Narrow Socialists"), which was founded in 1903 after a split in the 10th Congress of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers' Party.
The party's founding leader was Dimitar Blagoev, who was the driving force behind the formation of the BSDWP in 1894. It comprised most of the hardline Marxists in the Social Democratic Workers' Party. The party opposed World War I and was sympathetic to the October Revolution in Russia. Under Blagoev's leadership, the party applied to join the Communist International upon its founding in 1919. Upon joining the Comintern the party was reorganised as the Communist Party of Bulgaria.
Georgi Dimitrov was a member of the party's Central Committee from its inception in 1919 until his death in 1949, also serving as Bulgaria's leader from 1946. In 1938 the party merged with the Bulgarian Workers' Party and took the former party's name. In 1948 the BWP merged (or reunited) with the Social Democrats to become the Bulgarian Communist Party once again.
Following Dimitrov's sudden death, the party was led by Vulko Chervenkov, a Stalinist who oversaw a number of party purges that met with Moscow's approval. The party joined the Cominform at its inception in 1948 and conducted purges against suspected "Titoites" following the expulsion of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia from the alliance. Suspected counter-revolutionaries were imprisoned. In March 1954, one year after Joseph Stalin's death, Chervenkov was deposed.
From 1954 until 1989 the party was led by Todor Zhivkov, who was very supportive of the Soviet Union and remained close to its leadership after Nikita Khrushchev was deposed by Leonid Brezhnev. His rule led to relative political stability and an increase in living standards. The demands for democratic reform which swept Eastern Europe in 1989 led Zhivkov to resign. He was succeeded by a considerably more liberal Communist, Petar Mladenov. However, events soon overtook him, and on December 11 Mladenov announced the party was giving up its guaranteed right to rule. For all intents and purposes, this was the end of Communist rule in Bulgaria, though it would be another month before the provision in the constitution enshrining the party's "leading role" was deleted.
The party moved in a more moderate direction, and by the spring of 1990 was no longer a Marxist-Leninist party. That April, the party changed its name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). A number of hardline Communists established several splinter parties with a small number of members. One of these parties, named Communist Party of Bulgaria (Komunisticeska Partija na Balgarija), is led by Aleksandar Paunov.
The leaders of the Bulgarian Communist Party were:
- Dimitar Blagoev (1903 — 1924)
- Georgi Kirkov
- Hristo Kabakchiev
- Georgi Dimitrov (1946 — 1949)
- Valko Chervenkov (1949 — 1954)
- Todor Zhivkov (1954 — 1989)
- Petar Mladenov (1989 — 1990)
- Alexander Lilov (1990)
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