A survey on Bulgarians’ attitudes towards institutions has found that they trust the European Union and Bulgarian Orthodox Church the most, while Parliament and political parties ranked the lowest.
The results of the poll, released by the Open Society Institute – Sofia in a report on February 27 2017, showed that 55 per cent of respondents trusted the EU as an institution and the same number the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Next in line was Bulgaria’s army, trusted by 50 per cent, the universities, also 50 per cent, the police 47 per cent, hospitals 44 per cent, central Bulgarian National Bank 41 per cent and the banks 35 per cent.
NGOS had the trust of 33 per cent of those polled, the President (again, as an institution) 32 per cent, the courts 32 per cent, the government 27 per cent, Parliament 22 per cent and political parties 17 per cent.
The report said that a possible explanation for the low confidence and low participation in political parties is that citizens see political parties as leadership projects in which decisions are taken solely by the leader, while ordinary members are relatively powerless.
More than a third of those polled (38 per cent) believed that the members of the party for which they voted in the last parliamentary elections have little or no influence on its leadership.
Forty-six per cent said that decisions within a political party are entirely at the discretion of the party leader.
In the public perception, the second most influential group in party decision-making are the representatives of the business who are not even organs of the party but for a considerable number of respondents have greater influence on the decisions taken by a party than its ordinary members. Public perceptions on this issue have remained unchanged since 2015, the report on the poll said.
The share of respondents who feel that there is real competition of ideas among the political parties on possible government approaches is decreasing: in 2016, only 17 per cent of the respondents agreed that the change of parties in government led to an actual change in government policies, while in 2015, this opinion was shared by 23 per cent of the respondents, the report said.
Both studies (2015 and 2016) revealed that according to a significant majority of respondents organized crime exerted influence on the leadership of the major political parties in the country. In 2016, one third of the respondents believed that organized crime had a “big influence” on some of the major political parties in the country, while 31 per cent believed it had a “very big influence”.
The survey was done between April 22 and May 14 2016 among 1197 adult Bulgarians by an Open Society Institute – Sofia team and was financed by the Complimentary Actions Fund of the NGO Program in Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2009-2014. It included comparative analysis of data from the national representative public opinion survey conducted by the Open Society Institute – Sofia in March 2015 among 1178 respondents.
(Photo, of St Petka church in Sofia, against a backdrop of the government and presidency buildings: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)