Confidence in the Bulgarian government has dropped by two per cent over the period March to June, while the approval rating of the country’s Parliament has plunged to a mere 7.5 per cent, according to a poll by the Alpha Research agency.
Alpha Research, among the most reliable opinion polling agencies in Bulgaria, found that confidence in Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government – formed in November 2014 – had decreased to 18 per cent from 20 per cent in the agency’s previous regular poll.
At the same time, mistrust in the Bulgarian government rose from 46 to 48 per cent, according to the poll, done between June 8 and 14 and released on June 21 2016.
The drop in confidence in the Borissov government was seen as the result of two parallel deep processes.
On the one hand, the government receives support for a number of specific policies and actions such as infrastructure development, absorption of EU funds, the steps taken to diversify sources of gas and drilling in the Black Sea, dealing with the refugee crisis, the fight against smuggling, and more active development of primary health care.
At the same time, Bulgaria’s government is the focus of growing criticism and dissatisfaction with the worsening relations in the governing coalition in connection with judicial reform, electoral legislation and several other bills.
Discontent has been arising with unfulfilled expectations for genuine judicial reform, the way in which compulsory voting in elections and referendums was voted into Bulgarian law, and the limitation on the number of polling stations abroad.
Those most critical of relations within the governing coalition are supporters of the Reformist Bloc, the Patriotic Front and the ABC party.
ABC, a minority socialist breakaway party, was part of Borissov’s coalition government but left it in May 2016, citing a lack of dialogue in the coalition. The Reformist Bloc is split between a majority of coalition partners who continue to support Borissov’s government, and one party that does not. The Patriotic Front remains part of the coalition, supporting the government in Parliament without having Cabinet seats, and since ABC left, the PF has become all the more influential.
Alpha Research noted that while the most critical views of coalition relations came from ABC, Reformist Bloc and PF supporters, the proportion of supporters of Borissov’s centre-right GERB party who were critical of the way in which responsibility is shared in the government was also increasing.
The poll found that 58 per cent believed that the best option for Bulgaria was for Borissov’s government to serve a full term. Only 17 per cent favoured early parliamentary elections.
Borissov himself continues to have the support of 32 per cent – his approval rating bolstered by specific projects that have been completed, mostly in infrastructure, the country’s absorption of EU funds and the government’s handling of the refugee crisis.
Alpha Research found that there was a high level of interest in Bulgaria’s presidential elections, to be held in the autumn. About 59 per cent of those polled said that they intended voting.
However, the image of the presidential institution was being damaged by the fact that no major political party has named its candidate to stand in Bulgaria’s autumn 2016 elections.
While Borissov remains the most-approved leader of a political party, there was a strong showing for Kornelia Ninova, the recently-elected new leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, at 18 per cent. (An Exacta poll, the results of which were released on June 8, also showed the election of Ninova as boosting the BSP).
Political formations shedding support included the Reformist Bloc, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The MRF underwent huge turbulence at the end of 2015 with the ouster of Lyutvi Mestan as leader. Alpha Research said that with the MRF support below usual levels, it was not yet clear whether voters were refraining from expressing their views or whether they had shifted support to Mestan’s new party.
Were elections to be held now, GERB would get 21.9 per cent, the BSP 10.4 to 12.8 per cent, the Reformist Bloc five per cent, the Patriotic Front 4.9 per cent, the MRF 4.5 per cent and ABC 3.5 per cent, according to Alpha Research.
The most-approved members of the Cabinet are Lilyana Pavlova, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, and Tomislav Donchev, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of EU funds.
Others with positive ratings are Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov, Sports Minister Krassen Kraleva, Environment Minister Ivelina Vasileva and Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov.
The announcement by President Rossen Plevneliev on May 20 that he would not stand for re-election in the autumn has not affected his approval ratings, which remain 24 per cent positive and 35 per cent negative. His strongest support comes from among GERB voters.
The National Assembly, Bulgaria’s unicameral Parliament, is continuing to lose public confidence, now at only 7.5 per cent, against 59 per cent distrust.
Not only the image but the very role of the MP attracts increasingly unfavourable opinions, which in turn created a favourable environment for the spread of populism.
Confidence in Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov was down to nine per cent, reflecting the dominant opinion among Bulgarians that the justice system guarantees neither equality nor justice.
After a slight increase in the spring of 2016 of confidence in the Interior Ministry, police and minister Roumyana Buchvarova, these dropped again to low levels, a result of the Sunny Beach shootout in early June.
(Photo: EC Audiovisual Service)