Bulgaria’s opposition socialists, boosted by referendum campaign, narrow gap with ruling GERB – poll

Ahead of Bulgaria’s January 27 2013 referendum on nuclear energy, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party – which is leading the campaign for a yes vote – appears to have made gains in its support ahead of the mid-2013 national parliamentary elections, going by the outcome of a poll by Alpha Research.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right ruling party GERB has dropped 0.5 per cent support since September 2012, to 20.9 per cent support, according to the Alpha Research poll, while the BSP has gained two per cent to reach 18.5 per cent.

Were elections held immediately, four parties would be certain of seats in Parliament: GERB, the BSP, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (5.4 per cent) and Meglena Kouneva’s Bulgaria for Citizens (5.6 per cent).

Notably, the figure for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, currently at the centre of the news because of the misfired gas pistol attack on its long-time leader Ahmed Dogan at a party congress on January 19, represents a slight shedding of support for that party.

The figures for the two major parties, GERB and the BSP, create the theoretical possibility of either forming a governing coalition after Bulgaria’s mid-2013 elections, in partnership with one of the smaller parties.

But should some of the other minority parties make it over the threshold for seats in Parliament, such as the right-wing Blue Coalition or Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalist Ataka, the latter now operating in co-operation with nationalists VMRO, the permutations for a possible coalition change.

According to the poll, various small parties that have figured in previous elections, either winning seats or coming close, now have no chance of returning – these include the National Movement for Stability and Progress (the former governing party that was formed around former monarch Simeon Saxe-Coburg, which also won no seats in 2009), and Yane Yanev’s Order Law and Justice party.

Regarding the January 27 referendum on nuclear energy, which in spite of omitting the Belene nuclear power station project from the formal question is in effect about that very issue, the poll suggested that between 25 and 35 per cent of about six million adult citizens in Bulgaria intended voting.

In line with previous polls in recent weeks, the Alpha Research survey foresaw a yes vote, by about 62 per cent to a no vote of 38 per cent. The yes camp largely is made up of supporters of the socialist party while the no vote is dominated by those who oppose all nuclear power generation while about 29 per cent of the no camp favour the further development of nuclear power capacity at the existing Kozloduy nuclear power station.

However, it remains an open question whether voter turnout will be sufficient to meet the threshold for validity.

Over the years, support for Belene among Bulgarians has declined. It was 80 per cent in 2004 but now comes in at about 33 per cent, while 30 per cent oppose nuclear power on principle and want Bulgaria to develop other forms of energy generation while 25 per cent favour the expansion of Kozloduy nuclear power station’s capacity.


(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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