Six months after Bulgaria’s March 26 2017 early parliamentary elections, the picture of support for major political parties is largely unchanged and elections now would produce a similar Parliament, going by the results of a poll by Alpha Research.
The Alpha Research poll results announced on September 26 showed Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party as having 25.1 per cent support and Kornelia Ninova’s opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party at 19.3 per cent.
The gap between the two parties is similar to that in March, when in the elections GERB got 32.65 per cent and the BSP 27.2 per cent.
Support for the United Patriots, the grouping of nationalist and far-right parties that is the minority partner in Borissov’s third government, is down from the nine per cent it won in the March elections, to 5.9 per cent, according to the Alpha Research poll, which was done between September 13 and 20 2017. However, the United Patriots still would be the third-largest group in Parliament.
The poll showed the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms in fourth place, at 4.8 per cent. In the March elections, it had just less than nine per cent.
The one significant change, should parliamentary elections be held now in Bulgaria, is that Vesselin Mareshki’s populist Volya party – currently the smallest group in the National Assembly, with 12 MPs – would not be returned. It had 1.8 per cent support, according to Alpha Research. The threshold for election to the Bulgarian National Assembly is four per cent.
Other parties below the threshold for election, according to Alpha Research, are the Reformist Bloc (2.2 per cent), Hristo Ivanov’s Yes Bulgaria (1.6 per cent) and New Republic (0.8 per cent). About 7.9 per cent support was spread out among a range of other parties.
BSP leader Ninova’s approval rating has fallen three per cent in the past three months, to 24 per cent.
Krassimir Karakachanov, a co-leader of the United Patriots and leader of the nationalist VMRO party, has an approval rating of 29 per cent – among political party leaders, second only to Borissov.
United Patriots co-leader and National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party leader Valeri Simeonov has gained a point in his approval rating, but at the same time, his disapproval rating has increased sharply.
Volen Siderov, the third co-leader of the United Patriots and leader of the Ataka party, has an approval rating unchanged at five per cent and one of the highest disapproval ratings.
Alpha Research said that its regularly quarterly survey of public political attitudes had found that, as at September 2017, a moderate economic upturn, coupled with falling unemployment and income growth in larger cities, had led to a reduction of the social tensions that had been typical of the past year.
Policies seen as the relatively most successful were infrastructure (51 per cent), foreign policy (43 per cent) tourism (42 per cent) and partly education (31 per cent).
While there were some reservations, there was public approval for the plan to increase the salaries of teachers and to reduce the number of school dropouts.
At the bottom of the approval rankings were the judiciary, health care and the fight against crime.
Those fifth of Bulgarians who approved of the work of the third Borissov government based this on the economic indicators and foreign policy.
On the other hand, controversies surrounding GERB politicians, as well as the unconvincing actions in relation to the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption were consolidating the numbers of those who disapproved of the Borissov government, with a rise from 33 per cent to 38 per cent.
The Cabinet minister with the highest approval rating was Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, with 16.4 per cent, followed by Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov (10.9 per cent), Sports Minister Krassen Kralev (10.2 per cent) and Minister in charge of Bulgaria’s 2018 EU Presidency, Liliyana Pavlova (5.1 per cent).
Bulgarian head of state President Roumen Radev (elected in 2016 on a ticket backed by the opposition BSP) had a slightly decreased approval rating, at 54 per cent, while only 13 per cent declared disapproval of his performance. In the past three months, Radev’s approval rating has dropped three points.
In line with the trends of several years, Bulgaria’s Parliament, prosecution and the courts continued to have very low levels of trust.
Forty-five per cent of those polled did not believe that Bulgaria was winning or could win the fight against corruption at the highest levels.
Alpha Research has initiated new questions, regarding Bulgaria’s forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Twenty-five per cent of those polled believed that Bulgaria’s EU Presidency would be a success, while 56 per cent said that it would not be a success but would see no gaffes, while 16 per cent expected it to be a failure.
Alpha Research said that since its previous poll three months ago, trust in the Borissov government was at an unchanged level, at about 21 per cent.
Notably, only 13 per cent of United Patriots’ voters approved of the work of the Cabinet, against 41 per cent disapproval.
Sixty-one per cent of those polled wanted the current government to serve out its full four-year term, rather than the country going to early parliamentary elections.
The Alpha Research poll was carried out through 1030 face-to-face interviews in various cities and towns across Bulgaria.