Anti-government protests demanding the immediate resignation of the Bulgarian Socialist Party administration reached their 80th day on September 1, with a new opinion poll showing the largest single share of Bulgarians – more than half – supporting the protests.
The poll, by Alpha Research, was released just a few days ahead of the resumption of the sittings of Bulgaria’s Parliament after the summer recess, and after anti-government protesters got a psychological fillip from support shown for anti-government protests by Roger Waters during his The Wall concert in capital city Sofia.
On August 30, captions coloured in red reading “no f…ing way and “Ostavka” (in Cyrillic script, the ‘resignation’ call of anti-government protesters were displayed on the Wall during Waters’s performance of the song “Mother”, right after the line, “Mother, should I trust the government?”.
The Alpha Research poll appeared to indicate that for the largest single share of Bulgarians, the answer to that latter question was “no” but, at the same time and in an illustration of the complexities of contemporary Bulgarian politics, the poll also showed the Bulgarian Socialist Party now in a slight lead over Boiko Borissov’s centre-right former ruling party GERB.
According to the poll, done between August 19 and 27 among 1328 people, the BSP has 18.4 per cent and GERB 15.6 per cent, apparently the result of BSP supporters becoming more mobilised as a result of the anti-government protests.
In third place was the Reformist Bloc, a collection of various centre-right and right-wing parties currently not represented in Parliament, with 7.6 per cent support and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent with 5.8 per cent, in line with the norms for electoral support for the MRF.
Volen Siderov’s ultra-nationalists Ataka, currently the fourth out of four parties in Parliament and which serves to prop up the BSP-MRF ruling axis, would get only 1.5 per cent were elections to be held now, way below the threshold required for return to Parliament.
At the same time, 23 per cent of Bulgarians polled said that they were undecided about which party they would vote for, seeing no existing party as an alternative to the status quo.
The youngest and the highly educated see a possible party of the protestors as a possible alternative.
Significantly, those who disapproved of the work of the government – which came into office in May with Plamen Oresharski appointed to sit in the prime minister’s chair – rose from 28 per cent in June 2013 to 47 per cent in August, and the disapproval rating of the PM increased from 25 to 44 per cent.
According to Alpha Research, consolidated support for the government remained only among supporters of the BSP and MRF. Sixty per cent of supporters of Ataka, almost as much as those of GERB, the Reformist Bloc and other parties, are dissatisfied with the work of the current cabinet and prime minister.
Those who saw the government as working in the interests of the public fell from 39 per cent to 26 per cent, while those who saw the government as working in the interests of business circles close to it rose from 53 per cent to 70 per cent.
In response to a question whether they believed that people were appointed to high government positions on the basis of being the most competent and honest individuals, 84 per cent of those polled said no.
Only five per cent agreed that the procedures by which people were appointed to high positions were transparent and fair.
Overall, 51 per cent supported the anti-government protests, 33 per cent the “counter-protests” by pro-government crowds and 16 per cent supported neither, according to Alpha Research.
Seventy per cent saw Bulgaria as now developing a strong and vibrant civil society.
The only politician to generate more approval than disapproval was head of state President Rossen Plevneliev, while others in the top ranks of approval were European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova and Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev, the last-mentioned, like Plevneliev, having taken an active stance effectively backing the anti-government protests of recent months.
Among other politicians, former president Georgi Purvanov, of the BSP, had 33 per cent of public trust against 41 per cent distrust, Borissov 26 per cent trust and 49 per cent distrust, BSP leader Sergei Stanishev with 23 per cent trust and 56 per cent distrust, while beating all in the stakes of public dislike was Ataka leader Siderov, with 85 per cent public disapproval and approval of four per cent.
(Photo: I Ruzhin)