One year after Bulgaria’s March 2017 early parliamentary elections, the picture of support for major political parties was largely unchanged, with the opposition socialists narrowing the gap to Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB, according to a poll by Alpha Research.
The Alpha Research poll results announced on March 29 showed GERB as having 23.1 per cent support and Kornelia Ninova’s Bulgarian Socialist Party at 20.5 per cent.
The gap between the two parties was shrinking, but that was mainly due to GERB losing some support because of the controversy surrounding the proposed sale of power utility CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria and disagreements within the ruling coalition, not because of an increase in socialists’ poll numbers, Alpha Research said.
Asked about the controversy, 57 per cent of the poll’s respondents said that the Government was in some form involved in the proposed deal. However, 42 per cent also said that the opposition was attempting to use the row to discredit and topple the government.
Support for the United Patriots, the grouping of nationalist and far-right parties that is the minority partner in Borissov’s third government, was unchanged at 5.2 per cent, with the recent public rows with GERB impacting the senior coalition partner’s poll numbers but not the United Patriots, according to Alpha Research.
The poll showed the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms in fourth place, at 5.1 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 two 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 the poll, are former justice minister Hristo Ivanov’s Yes Bulgaria (1.6 per cent), while the centre-right Union of Democratic Forces and the Bulgaria for Citizens party founded by former European Commissioner Meglena Kouneva were on one per cent each. About 7.1 per cent support was spread out among a range of other parties, while 33.2 per cent said that they did not intend to vote.
Among leaders of parliamentary parties, Borissov retained the lead, with his recent foreign policy activity, a direct result of Bulgaria holding the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, bumping his approval rating by three percentage points to 35.6 per cent.
On the topic of the EU presidency, 37 per cent qualified it as successful so far and 13 per cent said it was not successful. Of the remainder, 27 per cent said that they did not follow the topic and 23 per cent did not have an opinion.
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.
The other two United Patriots co-leaders, National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria party leader Valeri Simeonov and Ataka’s Volen Siderov, had 11.4 and 6.4 per cent approval ratings.
BSP leader Ninova, a frequent and combative opponent to Borissov who has made every effort to stake her own prime-ministerial credentials over the past year, saw her approval dip to 26.4 per cent.
By comparison, President Roumen Radev, elected on the socialist ticket in November 2016, enjoyed 59 per cent approval and only 10 per cent disapproval ratings.
The Alpha Research poll was carried out through 1025 face-to-face interviews in various cities and towns across Bulgaria between March 15 and 24.