The start of the campaign ahead of Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections on October 5 sees Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB with 36.2 per cent of support among those who intend voting while the Bulgarian Socialist Party trails at a poor second with 22.5 per cent, according to an Alpha Research poll released on September 9.
After the European Parliament elections in Bulgaria in May 2014, Alpha Research again emerged as arguably the country’s most reliable polling agencies, with most others having got it wrong.
The Alpha Research poll, done between August 31 and September 5 – the latter date the official start of the election campaign period – said that the Movement for Rights and Freedoms had 12.1 per cent, the centre-right Reformist Bloc 5.2 per cent and the populist Bulgaria Without Censorship (BWC) 4.4 per cent.
GERB, which thoroughly thrashed the BSP in the European Parliament elections in May, has continued its upward trend since then, increasing its lead over the BSP, according to Alpha Research.
Borissov’s party has further potential among five to seven per cent of undecided voters but it remains to be seen whether the GERB campaign will persuade them.
In turn, the BSP has been on a downhill slide and faces a risk of shedding further votes, the polling agency indicated.
The BSP, which was handed the mandate to govern in May 2013 even though it had run second in early parliamentary elections (GERB got the most votes then but had no allies with which to form a government) had scant chance of expanding its voter support because it continued to suffer from the negatives of the May 2013-August 2014 cabinet.
The BSP faces the risk of its voters lodging a protest against it by casting their ballots either for left- or right-wing alternatives, such as Georgi Purvanov’s ABC, Tatyana Donchev’s Movement 21 or the Valeri Simeonov-Krassimir Karakachanov ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front.
The MRF, the former ruling axis party led by Lyutvi Mestan, enters the campaign in third place and probably will remain there, according to Alpha Research.
The Reformist Bloc, an alliance of five centre-right and right-wing parties formed in 2013, had failed to overcome some of its most serious problems, mainly its support being concentrated mostly in Sofia with little reach elsewhere. Choices on candidate lists also had caused problems for the bloc.
BWC, formed around former talk show host Nikolai Barekov, had suffered the most serious erosion since the European Parliament elections, according to the pollsters.
It still has a chance of entering the 43rd National Assembly, but its support is in a downward trend.
Purvanov’s ABC and the Patriotic Front are on the verge of surmounting the electoral threshold, respectively with 3.9 per cent and 3.7 per cent. The performance of these two depends largely on their ability to mobilise a protest vote against the BSP.
Volen Siderov’s far-right ultra-nationalist Ataka has just 2.9 per cent, Alpha Research found.
Alpha Research said that the most likely hypothesis was a five-party 43rd National Assembly.
But Borissov’s GERB is unlikely to achieve its stated target of at least 121 MPs in the 240-seat Parliament, currently being set for at most 110. The current scenario suggests that Borissov may be able to form an albeit fragile centre-right parliamentary majority of GERB and the Reformist Bloc.
Less likely is the scenario of a highly fragmented Parliament. Chances of more than five parties in the next National Assembly depend largely on the mobilisation of a protest vote against the BSP. This in turn would put at risk the prospect of a decisive majority and a stable government.
(Main photo: A supporter snaps a selfie with Borissov at GERB’s campaign launch in Sofia on September 7. Photo: gerb.bg)