Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, majority partner in the coalition government, has lost about three per cent support since November but remains by far the party with the strongest backing among the electorate, according to the results of a poll released by Alpha Research on March 7 2016.
The poll, done between February 28 and March 4, found GERB to have 21.3 per cent support, down from 24.5 per cent in November 2015.
The approval rating of the government had fallen from 24 per cent in November to 20 per cent in February.
The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party had made a slight gain, back into double figures, at 10.4 per cent in February 2016 after 8.4 per cent in November.
The Movement for Rights and Freedoms, currently the third-largest party in the National Assembly that was elected in October 2014, has dropped from 6.8 per cent to 4.9 per cent. Between the two polls, the MRF was wracked by a drama in which its leader, Lyutvi Mestan, was ousted by honorary president Ahmed Dogan after Mestan backed Ankara against Moscow in Turkey’s dispute with Russia over the Turkish air force downing a Russian military aircraft near Syrian air space.
Centre-right coalition the Reformist Bloc, a minority partner in government and that has undergone its own political drama following the resignation of Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov which caused a bloc member party to go into opposition, dropped to 5.9 per cent support in February, after 6.5 per cent in November.
Still, were the poll – by one of Bulgaria’s more reliable polling agencies – be borne out by reality (and in the currently not very likely event of early parliamentary elections), the Reformist Bloc would have more MPs than the MRF.
Nationalist coalition the Patriotic Front, which participates in the coalition government agreement, was shown as having 4.1 per cent support, slightly down from 4.2 per cent in November.
ABC, the socialist breakaway party headed by Georgi Purvanov, who is not an MP but who has taken the party into participation in the second Borissov government, had 3.1 per cent support, down from 3.5 per cent support in November. The threshold for election to the Bulgarian Parliament is a minimum four per cent share of votes cast.
Volen Siderov’s Ataka party, with ABC one of the two smallest parties in the current Parliament, had 2.2 per cent support, up from 1.8 per cent in November, according to Alpha Research.
The survey found that 58.6 per cent of people in Bulgaria believe that despite progress in various spheres, corruption in general is growing, justice lacking, and small groups were benefitting, to the detriment of society.
Only 22.3 per cent of respondents believed that in spite of some difficulties, corruption was not interfering with the successful development of the country.
The Cabinet ministers with the highest approval ratings were Regional Development Minister Liliyana Pavlova (32.6 per cent), Deputy Prime Minister and EU funds minister Tomislav Donchev (19.4 per cent) and Ivailo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of labour and social policy (23.8 per cent).
Head of state President Rossen Plevneliev had lost three points, but by early March still enjoyed among the highest levels of approval among state institutions, 25 per cent.
Parliament’s approval rating dropped into single figures, at nine per cent.
The Alpha Research survey was done among 1723 adult citizens, in a two-stage process stratified by region and type of settlement with the selection of respondents for quota on the basis of sex, age, and education.