New poll shows widening gap between Bulgaria’s two biggest parties

The gap between Bulgaria’s centre-right party GERB, until recently in government, and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), its main rival at the May 12 parliamentary elections, was widening, according to a public opinion survey by the National Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (NCSPO).

Support for GERB was unchanged compared to January at 24.4 per cent, the state polling agency said, while BSP shed some supporters and now had 17.5 per cent public approval rating.

The poll is the second inside a week showing that GERB did not lose ground after the resignation of prime minister Boiko Borissov following nationwide protests in February, caused by electricity prices and high bills for January.

NCSPO said that 85 per cent of the respondents in its survey believed the demands made by protesters were justified. Given the wide-ranging demands made during the protests, when asked which demand should be implemented first, 34 per cent of respondents said tighter controls over energy companies and the review of unfavourable electricity contracts, while 26 per cent said that the focus should be on improving the standard of living and higher incomes.

Concerning Borissov’s resignation, opinions were split about equal – 45 per cent said that they saw it as an attempt to avoid responsibility, while 42 per cent thought it was an “honourable decision”.

If elections were held now, five parties would be represented in Parliament, according to the survey’s data: GERB, BSP, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (support for which remained unchanged at 6.5 per cent), ultra-nationalist Ataka (which “doubled its support as a result of the protests” to five per cent) and former European Commissioner Meglena Kouneva’s party Bulgaria for Citizens (which had 3.5 per cent support, down from 5.9 per cent in the January poll).

The poll was carried out on a representative sample of 1000 people on March 21-29 and was not contracted by any party, the polling agency said.

 (Bulgarian Parliament. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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