Approval rating of Bulgarian government plummets to new low – poll

Public trust in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government has fallen to a new low, below the “critical” 20 per cent level, according to the results of a new poll by the Alpha Research agency.

Negative views of developments in the country outnumber positive views three to one, while a range of state figures – the President, Prosecutor-General and Ombudsman – also have fallen in the charts, the Alpha Research poll found.

The Constitutional Court has an approval rating of just 12 per cent.

Bulgarian society had entered a spiral of institutional and political collapse, Alpha Research’s analysts said on November 4.

Approval of the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, which took office in May 2013 even though the party ran second in the elections, getting the chance to govern because first-ranked GERB had no allies with which to form a coalition, already had set a record for a low approval rating at the outset.

Alpha Research analysts said that other institutions were losing public trust because they were dragged down by the crisis in the executive and the legislature.

The current government has been the target of widely-supported public protests, continuing for more than 143 days, demanding its resignation, fresh elections and thorough reforms to the political system to cleanse it of undue influence from questionable business interests.

These protests were sparked by the mid-June election of Delyan Peevski, a member of the BSP’s ruling axis partner the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the scion of a family with vast media ownerships, as head of the State Agency for National Security. Peevski’s appointment was rescinded four days after he took the oath of office in Parliament.

A Constitutional Court process that affirmed that Peevski was still an MRF MP stimulated a revival of public protests, and further impetus has been given by recent student anti-government protests.

Plamen Oresharski, appointed prime minister in the BSP government in May, now had a 24 per cent approval rating, down from the results of the previous Alpha Research poll which put the figure at 30 per cent. Oresharski’s approval rating was lower than that of Boiko Borissov at the point that the centre-right GERB leader stepped down when “cost of living” protests in early 2013 saw an incident of violence in the centre of Sofia.

Among 17 cabinet ministers, 11 had approval ratings so low as to be prefixed with a minus sign.

The “most popular” minister is Tsvetlin Yovchev, deputy prime minister and interior minister, with a 6.6 per cent approval rating. Defence minister Angel Naidenov follows at 4.4 per cent and foreign minister Kristian Vigenin in third place, at 2.2 per cent. Among those with minus approval ratings, three ministers tie – at a minus 3.9 approval rating are finance minister Petar Chobanov, investment planning minister Ivan Danov and justice minister and deputy prime minister Zinaida Zlatanova. Rock bottom is health minister Tanya Andreeva, at minus 7.2.

Alpha Research said that apart from the protests, the other factor most affecting the ever-declining confidence in the current government was assessments of the economic situation in Bulgaria. Of those polled, 48 per cent had a negative view of the economic situation while only 16 per cent rated it positively.

Also damaging to the current government was Parliament’s vote on the resolution tabled by ultra-nationalists Ataka to call for an extension to the year 2020 of the moratorium on the sale of land to foreigners. This moratorium, in terms of Bulgaria’s EU accession treaty, is to end on January 1 2014. But in the 42nd National Assembly, the Ataka motion was approved with the votes of Siderov’s party, GERB and most BSP MPs. The matter is now the subject of a challenge in the Constitutional Court by the BSP’s ruling axis partner, the MRF.

According to Alpha Research, 30 per cent of those polled saw the vote on the moratorium as a principled position safeguarding the interests of Bulgarian citizens but 62 per cent saw it as unprincipled and serving political partisan interests.

President Rossen Plevneliev, head of state since January 2012 following his election on a GERB ticket, has lost six points in his approval rating, with positive and negative assessments of him evenly split.

Another big loser in the approval stakes, going by the Alpha Research poll, is Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, who in the past month has shed close to 10 per cent public confidence, also putting him in the position of positive and negative assessments of him being equally aligned.

The results of the Alpha Research poll saw support for the BSP as only narrowly ahead of that for GERB – 16.9 per cent to 16.5 per cent.

The Reformist Bloc, an alliance of a number of extra-parliamentary right-wing and centrist parties, was in third place, while the MRF was fourth, with support for the party led by Lyutvi Mestan stable.

Volen Siderov’s Ataka had made gains, unlike all other parties, rising from 1.6 per cent to three per cent, still below the threshold for entry to a new Parliament were elections to be held now. Siderov’s personal approval rating rose from five to seven per cent over the past month.

The approval rating of Parliament was unchanged at about 11 per cent, but the index of disapproval of Bulgaria’s legislature had worsened, with distrust in the 42nd National Assembly gaining 10 points.




The Sofia Globe staff

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