Another poll has confirmed majority support among Bulgarians for the resignation of the current government and the holding of early national parliamentary elections.
In all, 80 per cent of Bulgarians want the Bulgarian Socialist Party government to step down, according to the results of a poll by Alpha Research – arguably the most reliable of the country’s polling agencies – released on December 16 2013.
Forty-one per cent want elections held as soon as possible while 39 per cent hold that fresh parliamentary elections should be held when Bulgarians vote in European Parliament elections on May 25 2014.
According to Alpha Research, the BSP, which ran second in the May 2013 parliamentary elections, now had 16.5 per cent of voters’ support, slightly ahead of the 15.8 per cent for Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party.
GERB got the most votes in May 2013 but had no allies in the 42nd National Assembly with which to form a government, opening the way for the BSP to take power. Since then, GERB has been losing support, as has Borissov.
In a month, support for GERB fell from 16.5 per cent to 15.8 per cent, while the approval rating of Borissov dropped from 24 to 21 per cent.
But support for the BSP also has seen a decline, while the approval rating of BSP leader Sergei Stanishev continued its fall in the past month, from 23 to 19 per cent.
In contrast to recent polls quoted by pro-government media, showing the Reformist Bloc – an extra-parliamentary grouping of centrist and right-wing parties – as being no more than on the cusp of winning seats in a future legislature, the Alpha Research poll said that the Reformist Bloc had 6.9 per cent.
This puts it ahead of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, key player in the current ruling axis, but the pollsters pointed to the capacity of the MRF to mobilise votes when elections are held.
At the same time, the Alpha Research poll was done ahead of a drama around the Reformist Bloc in recent days, with the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria moving to exclude Blue Unity from election coalition negotiations.
Alpha Research said that public dissatisfaction with the current government of Bulgaria and the influx of refugees into the country had stimulated support for the nationalist vote, but with the rival to Volen Siderov’s Ataka party, Valeri Simeonov’s National Front for the Salvation of the Bulgaria, coming in stronger of the two at 3.5 per cent. Ataka had 2.7 per cent. Both of these figures are below the threshold for seats in Parliament.
To this point it may be added that recent days also have seen prominence in local media for stories and photographs concerning Siderov in expensive holiday destinations, with pictures of a cigar-puffing Siderov emerging soon after two defections to the independent seats from GERB’s ranks made the ruling axis less reliant on Ataka votes.
Among Bulgaria’s politicians and institutions, few made into the list of those with positive approval. These were Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev and Bulgaria’s member of the European Commission, Kristalina Georgieva.
It is the second consecutive month that, according to Alpha Research, approval of the BSP government is below the psychological barrier of 20 per cent.
Even among the BSP’s traditional constituency, including senior citizens and residents of small towns and villages, disapproval of the government was 1.5 times the rate of approval.
Alpha Research said that by December 2013, no key state institution had managed to climb out of the negative spiral of distrust among Bulgarians.
Disapproval of President Rossen Plevneliev now was slightly ahead of approval, 29 per cent to 27 per cent.
Views of Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov were similarly polarised, with negative opinions outweighing positive by 28 per cent to 22 per cent.
Among all state institutions, approval of the 42nd National Assembly elected in May 2013 was the lowest, at less than 10 per cent.
Polled on their views on what had been the most significant event of 2013, about 26 per cent named the anti-government protests that followed the abortive appointment in June of media mogul Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security.
Twenty-one per cent named the February resignation of the Borissov government, 19 per cent the arrival of refugees from Syria, 12 per cent the February protests mobilised around high electricity bills, 10 per cent the student anti-government protests, three per cent the formation of the BSP government in which Plamen Oresharski was appointed prime minister, one per cent the signing of the South Stream gas pipeline deal and 0.7 per cent the “counter-protests” in support of the ruling axis.
Overall assessments of 2013 were that it was one of the worst of the past 15 years.
The pollsters said that there were four main reasons for Bulgarians’ negative assessment of 2013 – the economic situation of households and the private sector, critically low confidence in the government’s ability to cope with the challenges of running the country, external evaluations of the situation in Bulgaria and a lack of unifying ideas about the development of the country.
These negative views of the situation in Bulgaria underlie the willingess of 6.7 per cent of adult Bulgarians to take up their right to work in another European Union country after January 1 2014, the poll found. Of these, 26 per cent had tertiary education.
Alpha Research said that, on the basis of previous studies, about half of those who say that they will leave the country actually do so. The figure that may be extrapolated is that about 200 000 Bulgarians will leave the country in the near future.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)