With about six months to go to national parliamentary elections, Bulgaria’s centre-right ruling party GERB has about 24.5 per cent support and the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party about 18.5 per cent, according to poll by the National Centre for the Study of Public Opinion.
The difference in the conclusions of the pollsters, on the basis of the survey done from November 30 to December 6, is that unlike every poll this year, they believe that five or more parties could get into Parliament after the 2013 elections.
In recent months, all major polls have shown GERB holding the largest share of votes, even though the ruling party’s share has diminished slightly, with the BSP in second place with some minor gains, followed by Ahmed Dogan’s Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) and an expected new entry into Parliament, Meglena Kouneva’s Bulgaria for Citizens.
The MRF has 6.3 per cent support and Kouneva’s party 5.8 per cent, according to the pollsters, who warned against concluding that the proportions of support for political parties would remain unchanged, given that winter only had just begun.
Kouneva, a former European Commissioner who was eliminated in the first round in a wide field of candidates in Bulgaria’s 2011 presidential elections, has been shedding support in the past month, the pollsters said. Her losses were higher among right-wing voters than among left-wing supporters and it could be expected that she would re-orientate her messages to the country’s disillusioned and politically apathetic citizens.
According to the poll, the deeply troubled right-wing Blue Coalition has 3.1 per cent support.
In recent weeks, the Union of Democratic Forces, one of the founding halves of the Blue Coalition, has been hard-hit by the debacle around the attempted nomination of former president Petar Stoyanov to a vacant seat on the Constitutional Court. Stoyanov, also a former leader of the Union of Democratic Forces, did not allow his name to go forward while members of the party’s parliamentary caucus – for factional reasons – had said that they would decline to nominate him.
This led to the current leader of the UDF expelling a number of the rebel MPs, including another former leader, Martin Dimitrov. In turn, this led former foreign minister (and yet another former leader of the UDF) Nadezhda Neynski quitting the party in protest, and opening co-operation talks with Ivan Kostov, Blue Coalition co-leader, leader of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria (and, yes, for the record, also a former leader of the UDF).
Previous polls had shown a severe lack of name recognition for current UDF leader Emil Kabaivanov, whose background is in municipal and not national politics, and the latest poll showed support for him at just 2.3 per cent. His disapproval rating had risen in the past month from 17 to 35 per cent, the pollsters said.
Volen Siderov’s ultranationalist party Ataka, which has had its own woes that have exacerbated its declining fortunes, is seen as having 2.8 per cent and on the basis of the latest survey, the pollsters suggest that Ataka could return to Parliament – in sharp contrast to most polls in 2012 that have written off the party.
The pollsters concluded that the results of their survey widened the range of possibilities for the two major parties in coalition government scenarios in 2013.
(Photo, of the National Assembly, Bulgaria’s unicameral Parliament: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)