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Bulgaria: Court Refuses to Register King's Simeon's Movement

Sofia, 23 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A Sofia court today refused to register a political movement created by former Bulgarian King Simeon II to contest the country's upcoming legislative elections. The ruling means Simeon will be unable to register the movement with the electoral commission in time for the 17 June election. Simeon II has said he will not take part in the elections as a member of another party.

The 17 June election is seen as a close race between the ruling center-right Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and the opposition Socialist Party. Simeon's movement has placed third in opinion polls among prospective voters and was a potential member of a ruling coalition government. His return to politics has sparked great interest in Bulgaria.

A political movement backed by Simeon was seen as having a good chance of drawing protest votes from those dissillusioned with the UDF -- which has lost support recently due to a poor economy and scandals involving some top UDF officials -- as well as from some Socialist supporters.

Simeon was exiled by Bulgaria's former communist leaders as a child and spent most of his life in exile in Spain.