Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov remains the country’s most-liked politician, with a 33 per cent approval rating, but approval of his government has slipped slightly in the past two months, according to a new poll by Alpha Research.
Events of recent months such as indications that electricity prices will go up, controversies over health care and pension system reforms, conflicts in Roma neighbourhoods and the debate about judicial reform have increased social tensions as well as criticism and disappointment towards the government.
Borissov’s cabinet, in office since early November 2014, now had a 20 per cent approval rating and 41 per cent disapproval rating, according to the poll, the results of which were released on June 18.
The poll found a rare trend regarding two members of the cabinet, Health Minister Petar Moskov and Deputy Prime Minister and Labour and Social Policy Minister Ivailo Kalfin. In both cases, there was simultaneous growth of confidence and mistrust.
Approval of Moskov, a member of the Reformist Bloc minority partner in the coalition cabinet, increased compared with April, from 24.3 per cent to 27.8 per cent, but disapproval rose from 10.5 per cent in April to 16.1 per cent in June.
Moskov incurred the wrath of doctors in several hospitals and dispensaries because of his concept of merging hospital administrations.
Until recently, Moskov’s personal rating was very high, better even than that of Borissov, because of his role in seeking to curb attacks on emergency medical teams.
The trend regarding Kalfin was similar. His approval rating rose from 19.7 per cent to 25 per cent, while disapproval increased from 9.1 per cent to 11.7 per cent between April and June, with pension reform and the accompanying protests sharpening opinions about Kalfin, the sole representative in the cabinet of socialist breakaway minority party ABC.
Least-liked among the cabinet remains Education Minister Todor Tanev, of GERB, who has a 20 per cent disapproval rating, and Economy Minister Bozhidar Lukarski of the Reformist Bloc who has a 17.2 per cent disapproval rating.
However, in the past two months, the sharpest decrease in approval was regarding Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov, whose 7.3 per cent approval rating and 18.4 per cent disapproval rating rank him as the second least-liked minister after Tanev.
Also low in the popularity stakes is Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, brought down by worries about electricity price increases.
The most popular cabinet minister is GERB’s Regional Development Minister Liliyana Pavlova, with a 30.7 per cent approval rating and a disapproval rating of 3.8 per cent.
Like Borissov, President Rossen Plevneliev has an approval rating higher than most state institutions, at 24 per cent unchanged in the past two months.
The most-approved state institution is public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, with a 52 per cent approval rating and 12 per cent disapproval. Bulgarian National Radio has 48 per cent approval and 26 per cent disapproval rating and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, 35 per cent approval and 20 per cent disapproval.
Ranking lowest among state institutions is the judiciary, with the courts having an eight per cent approval rating and prosecutors a six per cent approval rating.
Against the background of the Corporate Commercial Bank saga that has been continuing for close to a year, central Bulgarian National Bank has an approval rating of just nine per cent.
Parliament has a 10 per cent approval rating, against 52 per cent disapproval.
The approval rating of the police is 18 per cent and the military 19 per cent, both seeing negative trends in public confidence.
Among political parties, GERB retains its dominant leadership position albeit with a slight decline since the government came into office. The BSP remains in second place, with a slight improvement.
The Reformist Bloc and ABC, both within government but also criticising it, have seen this tactic pay off, with both improving their ratings.
Were national parliamentary elections to be held now, Borissov’s GERB party would get the most support, 21.9 per cent, with the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party again running a poor second, at 11.5 per cent.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms was in its customary third place, at 7.3 per cent, the centre-right coalition Reformist Bloc and the nationalist Patriotic Front each have 5.7 per cent, socialist breakaway ABC 3.5 per cent and far-right Ataka 3.2 per cent.