Nine months into Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s third term, his centre-right GERB party remains the political force with the most support, at 28 per cent, compared to 21 per cent for its main political opposition, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), according to the Exacta polling agency.
The junior partner in the government coalition, the nationalist United Patriots group of parties, and the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), both had about six per cent support, according to the survey, carried out among 1000 adult Bulgarians in 92 cities and towns from December 7 to 13.
Exacta’s findings are not far off the results of the early parliamentary elections in March 2017, when GERB received 33.5 per cent of votes, followed by BSP on 27.9 per cent, while United Patriots (9.3 per cent) narrowly edged MRF (9.2 per cent) into third.
The one significant difference if elections were held now is that populist Volya, led by controversial Varna businessman Vesselin Mareshki, would not make it into parliament, with Exacta’s poll pegging Volya’s current support at only 1.8 per cent.
But respondents in the survey were largely against snap elections, with 61.5 per cent opposed and 22 per cent in favour, Exacta said. Even among BSP supporters, only half wanted an early election, while supporters of ruling coalition partners GERB (92 per cent) and United Patriots (83 per cent) were mainly against snap polls.
Half of all respondents said that early elections would not solve the country’s problems, and only 24 per cent of respondents saw any alternative to the current GERB-led government, Exacta said.
Both GERB and BSP displayed strong mobilisation among their supporters, with 89 per cent of respondent who voted for GERB in March willing to do so at the next election, while BSP’s ratio was at 91 per cent. But there was also a large number of potential voters turned off by both parties – in a hypothetical scenario where the next election should feature only GERB and BSP, 41 per cent of respondents said that they would vote for GERB and 29 per cent would opt for BSP, while 30 per cent would not vote for either.
Asked if they personally felt represented in the current National Assembly 52.5 per cent of respondents answered with a negative, compared to 36.9 per cent who said “yes.”
Among political figures, ombudsman Maya Manolova and President Roumen Radev had the highest approval ratings, at 70.7 per cent and 69.6 per cent, respectively. Both of them have ties to the BSP – Manolova served several terms as BSP MP and Radev won the presidential election on BSP’s ticket last year.
BSP leader Kornelia Ninova, however, was well behind both of them with 28.7 per cent approval and 60.3 per cent disapproval ratings. Borissov’s ratings, by comparison, showed 45 per cent approval and 47.5 per cent disapproval.
As regards state institutions, Parliament’s approval rating remained largely unchanged over the past six months at about 20 per cent, with disapproval rising by five percentage points to 71 per cent, Exacta said. However, in the race to the bottom, it was overtaken by the courts (13.7 per cent approval, 66.4 per cent disapproval) and the prosecutor’s office (14.9 per cent approval, 63.1 per cent disapproval).
Public opinion on the police also showed a clear negative trend, with approval declining to 34.4 per cent, while disapproval rose to 52.5 per cent.
As in previous polls, the two institutions enjoying the most trust among respondents were the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (51.7 per cent approval, 16.3 per cent disapproval) and the armed forces (42.1 per cent approval, 25.9 per cent disapproval.)