A survey has found strong discriminatory attitudes among Bulgarians to minority groups, finding that if all other things were equal, 72 per cent would not vote for a presidential candidate of Roma background and 70 per cent would not vote for one with a Turkish background.
The poll, conducted by the Open Society Institute – Sofia found that 67 per cent of Bulgarians would not vote for a presidential candidate who was gay/lesbian, 49 per cent would not cast a ballot for a candidate over 65, about 43 per cent would not would not vote for a presidential candidate who was physically disabled, while 12 per cent would not vote for a woman candidate.
The survey was done between April 22 and May 14 2016 among 1197 adult Bulgarians by an Open Society Institute 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.
Respondents who identified themselves as Roma tended to feel two times more threatened by police violence than respondents who identified themselves as Bulgarians and three times more threatened than respondents who identified themselves as Turks.
More than one fourth of the respondents who identified themselves as Roma (28 per cent) believed that in the next 12 months they were likely to become a victim of police violence, the poll found.
As to public attitudes towards fundamental civil rights, the major negative change in 2016 involved public perceptions of the protection of minority rights, the OSI – Sofia report on the poll, released on February 28 2017, said.
In 2016, the share of those who believed that the rights of minorities in the country were protected decreased from 68 per cent (2015) to 60 per cent.
The decline in the share of respondents who agree that minority rights are adequately protected in Bulgaria was particularly pronounced for two demographic groups, the report said.
Among the respondents who identified themselves as Roma this share has decreased by half, while among the respondents who identified themselves as Turks the decline is 10 per cent.
More than two-thirds of those who identified themselves as Roma (70 per cent) and almost half of those who identified themselves as Turks (47 per cent) disagreed with the statement that minority rights were adequately protected in Bulgaria, compared to a national average of 23 per cent, the report said.