Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government has an approval rating of just 13 per cent, having shed four percentage points in the past three months, while Borissov’s GERB party has a mere fraction of larger support than the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, according to a new poll by Alpha Research.
The poll was done between March 22 and 26 and the results released on April 1.
Alpha Research said that the controversy over senior ruling majority figures having acquired apartments at below-market prices, and the consequent resignations, had done “significant” damage to the image of and confidence in GERB at an important political moment, two months before Bulgaria’s European Parliament elections.
Were the European Parliament elections to be held now, GERB would get 33.9 per cent, and the BSP 33.4 per cent – a gap well within the statistical margin of error.
The agency said that of those polled, 66.6 per cent saw the apartments controversy as representing a misuse of influence by the people in power. Just 10.3 per cent saw no problem in the acquisition of the apartments and thought it to be a pre-election attack on the part of the opposition.
Further, aside from the apartments controversy, the fight against corruption was a key issue – according to 57.3 per cent of those polled, no one was conducting such a fight.
Only 12.8 per cent of Bulgarians believed that GERB was fighting corruption, while 11.3 per cent thought that the BSP was. About 7.4 per cent said that the battle was being fought by “other political forces”.
Regarding confidence in institutions, Alpha Research said that since its previous poll conducted in December 2018, the approval rating of head of state President Roumen Radev had increased by four points, to 51 per cent, while Radev’s disapproval rating was now 15 per cent.
Borissov’s government had, apart from its 13 per cent approval rating, a disapproval rating of 52 per cent – the latter up by seven percentage points since December.
The approval rating of Borissov himself had dropped from 30 per cent in December to 28 per cent in March. His disapproval rating rose from 37 per cent to 43 per cent.
The National Assembly’s approval rating was unchanged, at eight per cent. Its disapproval rating rose from 53 per cent to 59 per cent.
Among the members of Borissov’s Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev continued to be the most trusted, followed by Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and Sports Minister Krassen Kralev. Other ministers whose approval ratings were higher than their disapproval ratings were Krassimir Vulchev (education), Nikolina Angelkova (tourism) and Rossen Zheliazkov (transport).
After the arrests of people seen as linked to the economic “transition” in Bulgaria, for the first time in five years the approval ratings of the Prosecutor’s Office and the courts went up slightly.
Among leaders of political parties, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova’s approval rating went up by four per cent to reach 23 per cent. Others whose ratings went up were VMRO leader Krassimir Karakachanov, by three per cent, and Ataka leader and National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria leader Valeri Simeonov, by two per cent.
Regarding the European Parliament elections, in third place was the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with 10.6 per cent, making it the third party that appears certain to win a share of Bulgaria’s 17 seats in the EU’s legislature.
In fourth place was the reformist Democratic Bulgaria coalition, at 5.1 per cent, putting it just below the threshold to win a seat in the European Parliament.
Of the three parties in the United Patriots coalition, individually, VMRO had 4.1 per cent support, Simeonov’s NFSB 2.2 per cent and Siderov’s Ataka 2.1 per cent.