Liquidation of the Opposition 1946-1947

Disturbing Communist propaganda Newsreel.

In Memoriam Nikola Petkov (1893-1947)

Encouraged by Moscow and with the Soviet Army present in the country, the Bulgarian communists decided to move more forcefully to destroy the internal opposition. In September 1946 a referendum decided by a staggering "93 % of the vote" majority declared Bulgaria a republic, King Simeon and the surviving members of the royal family were forced to leave the country. Elections for a Grand National Assembly to prepare a new constitution were held on 27 October 1946. Even under the present political circumstances, more than one million people voted for the non-communist opposition, or 28 % of all voters.

When the Assembly opened in November, the Agrarian leader, Nikola Petkov, became the figurehead of the new parliamentary opposition. Before too long however he was charged with plotting to overthrow the government and expelled from parliament, along with the rest of the opposition members, all met by a hostile crowd outside the parliament's building. In June 1947 Petkov was arrested, and after a show trial following Stalin's and Vishinsky's example, on 23 September 1947 he was executed. One week later the US extended diplomatic recognition to the new Communist regime, Britain had already done so in February.

In parliament, a team of Soviet lawyers supervised the swift preparation of the Dimitrov Constitution. It was adopted on December 4, 1947. Modelled on Stalin's constitution of 1936, it marked the end of multi-party democracy in Bulgaria. It would take almost 43 years before the old political parties emerged again.