Four in five Bulgarians were concerned about votes being bought or sold in an election, according to the results of an EU-wide Eurobarometer survey published on November 26, which also showed Bulgarians were more concerned about electoral interference than the EU average.
The special Eurobarometer poll on democracy and elections was requested by the European Commission and was carried out in September 2018, with a total of 27 474 people interviewed across the EU, including 1040 in Bulgaria.
Asked about a range of potential electoral interferences, Bulgarian respondents routinely showed higher levels of concern than the EU average – including vote-buying (81 per cent vs 55 per cent EU average) and people being coerced to vote in a certain way (72 per cent vs 52 per cent), with Bulgarians showing the highest amount of concern on those two topics among respondents in the 28 EU member states.
Similarly, Bulgarians were more concerned that final election result could be manipulated (72 per cent vs 56 per cent), that foreign actors and criminal groups could influence elections covertly (65 per cent vs 59 per cent), people voting twice (56 per cent vs 44 per cent) or people voting that were not entitled to (54 per cent vs 45 per cent).
On the topic of elections being manipulated using cyber-attacks, 61 per cent of Bulgarians (the same as the EU average) expressed concern.
But while respondents in the EU as a whole felt that their respective country was doing what is needed to prevent illegal and fraudulent activities during elections (59 per cent), Bulgarians were the most critical, with only 31 per cent believing that was the case and 69 per cent disagreeing, including 29 per cent that said that the country was “not at all” doing what is needed, the highest proportion among all 28 EU member states.
Similarly, when asked about their satisfaction with democratic principles in the EU, Bulgaria was the only country where more respondents were not satisfied with free and fair elections (52 per cent vs 38 per cent satisfied), while the EU average was 70 per cent satisfaction and 24 per cent of respondents not satisfied.
Bulgaria dead last in levels of satisfaction on several other democratic principles – freedom of speech (56 per cent satisfaction, tied with Romania), respect for fundamental rights (47 per cent satisfaction, tied with Croatia), possibility for individual citizens to participate in political life (45 per cent satisfaction), rule of law (32 per cent satisfaction), the opportunities for civil society to play its role in promoting and protecting democracy in the EU (39 per cent satisfaction).
On several other principles, Bulgarian respondents were also less satisfied than the EU average – political parties taking into account the
interests of people like them (32 per cent vs 44 per cent EU average), fight against disinformation in the media (32 per cent vs 40 per cent EU average) and the fight against corruption (23 per cent vs 36 per cent EU average).
Only on media diversity did Bulgarians declare themselves more satisfied than the EU as a whole (60 per cent vs 58 per cent).
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)