More than half of Bulgarians see situation in country as ‘unbearable’ – poll

More than half of Bulgarians polled in a survey in May 2012 saw the situation in the country as “unbearable” and the economic situation as worsening, according to the Open Society Institute.

The survey was done over 11 days in May among more than 1169 people and results compared with previous such surveys done since 2008 to track trends in public opinions.

Two-thirds of adult Bulgarians saw low salaries and unemployment as the most serious problems. The survey found that 19.5 per cent of Bulgarian households were below the poverty line.

Most believed that it was most important to continue reforms in health care, employment policy and incomes and economic growth.

Those polled said that the issues on which the most progress had been made were infrastructure, policing and transport.

If, by Bulgaria’s next national parliamentary elections – expected in summer 2013 – attitudes remain as they are now, there will be four parties in Parliament: the current ruling party centre-right GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Ahmed Dogan’s Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Meglena Kouneva’s Bulgaria for Citizens.

None of these parties would be able to form a government by itself, according to the Open Society Institute May 2012 survey.

Bulgaria continues to suffer mistrust of some of its key institutions. Compared to May 2011, attitudes to Government, Parliament and the courts remain virtually unchanged. There was increased confidence in the President, but this was likely the result of an election of a new head of state, the Open Society Institute said. Rossen Plevneliev took office as Bulgaria’s President in January 2012.

Giving details of the findings of the survey, the institute said that its polls over the past five years had shown sustained negative assessments of overall conditions in the country.

However, compared to May 2011, this year’s survey had found those polled assessed the situation in the country as a little better.

The most positive assessments came from people aged 31 to 45, living in large cities, and people with higher incomes. The most positive ratings came from men who intended voting for GERB inBulgaria’s next national parliamentary elections.

There had been some changes in attitudes to the four governments of recent times, meaning the current GERB administration and its three predecessors.

GERB has been in office since its July 2009 election victory. It was preceded by a tripartite coalition government made up of the socialists, Dogan’s party and the National Movement for Stability and Progress, the last-mentioned the party that was formed in 2001 around former monarch Simeon Saxe-Coburg. Saxe-Coburg’s party was in power from 2001 to 2005, having defeated its predecessor, the centre-right administration headed by then-leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, Ivan Kostov.

The institute said May 2012 had seen a three per cent increase of positive assessments of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB Government since May 2011, rising to a current 36 per cent.

The GERB Government was most strongly supported by younger residents of Sofia and by people with medium to high incomes.

At the same time, the figures in the poll suggested that positive views of the Sergei Stanishev-led tripartite coalition that was in power from 2005 to 2009 had increased, to 29 per cent in May 2012.

Attitudes towards the Saxe-Coburg years were largely unchanged but opinions of the Kostov government had dropped from 25 per cent approval in March 2010 to 17 per cent in May 2012.

The survey said that estimates of the overall economic situation in Bulgaria continued to be very negative, with every second Bulgarian believing that the country’s economic situation has deteriorated and only 13 per cent saying that it had improved.

However, the institute said, it should be noted that in comparison to previous years, there had been a noticeable decline in the negative assessment of the economic situation in Bulgaria, but this decline was due to a gradual but significant increase in the number of people who thought that nothing had changed.

Negative views about Bulgaria’s economic situation were most pronounced among people in small towns and villages and among people with less education as well as the older generation.

Regarding expectations for the development of the economic situation over the next 12 months, there had been a continuous decrease of pessimists and an increase in the proportion of people who do not expect change.

Just more than a third of respondents said that they were not affected by the economic and financial crisis, while close to 21 per cent of respondents said that the most common problem associated with the crisis was reduced salaries.

(Photo: Jason Antony/



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.