A regular quarterly opinion poll by Bulgaria’s Alpha Research agency shows a rise in critical attitudes towards the quality and style of the government, but other political parties are not benefiting.
The results of the September 2019 Alpha Research poll show Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov as having a 27.5 per cent approval rating and his Cabinet 15 per cent, similar to the previous poll, done in June.
Head of state President Roumen Radev continues to have the highest approval rating of any of Bulgaria’s politicians, at 54.8 per cent, but his disapproval rating has risen from 14 to 17 per cent.
Among other institutions, the police have a notable jump in approval rating, from 19 per cent at the start of 2019 to a current 28 per cent, Alpha Research said.
However, Bulgaria’s Parliament, judiciary, as well as the Prosecutor-General, gather strong negatives and public confidence in them remains extremely low.
Among the Cabinet, the most popular minister is Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, followed by the Minister of Sport Krassen Kralev and Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev.
Cabinet ministers whose approval ratings have improved include Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov and Interior Minister Mladen Marinov.
Opinions about Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov and Culture Minister Boil Banov are more polarized. The ministers with the highest disapproval ratings are those of justice, health and agriculture.
Alpha Research noted that the national survey is not representative of what will happen in Bulgaria’s mayoral and municipal elections, scheduled for October 27, “as battles will be decided in each municipality individually”.
“However, it does show some of the more typical attitudes of voters, which may prove to be significant in the outcome of mayoral races.”
About 47 per cent are strongly in favour of voting in the forthcoming elections.
As a rule, local elections are more mobilizing for voters than the recent European ones, but at the moment the declared willingness to participate in them is relatively low. This could change as the campaigns get underway.
Bulgarians are highly polarised in their attitudes about whether to change who runs their municipalities. Forty-one per cent favour keeping their current mayor in office and 47 per cent want a different one.
In Bulgaria’s large cities, 32 per cent want to keep their mayor and 68 per cent want a different one. In medium-sized municipalities, 44 per cent favour retaining the mayor and 56 per cent want the mayor out. In small towns, 51 per cent want the status quo and 49 per cent want a change.
In the middle of the third government headed by Boiko Borissov, 48 per cent of voters want a change of government while 33 per cent believe that Borissov’s GERB party is the best prepared to run the country.
Asked what they saw as the alternative to GERB, 17 per cent named the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, 12 per cent the party of former television host Slavi Trifonov, 4.9 per cent the reformist Democratic Bulgaria and 3.8 per cent the ultra-nationalist United Patriots.
With no consolidated support for an alternative, this showed why GERB held its position, Alpha Research said.
Asked for which party they would vote should national parliamentary elections be held now, the answer was GERB 21.5 per cent, the Bulgarian Socialist Party 18.7 per cent, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms 8.6 per cent, Trifonov’s party 8.3 per cent, the ultra-nationalists VMRO-NFSB 4.8 per cent, Democratic Bulgaria 4.1 per cent, Volya two per cent, Ataka 1.9 per cent and “others” 2.7 per cent.
A total of 27.4 per cent of those polled said that they would not vote.
Alpha Research said that Trifonov’s party was taking voters away from supporters of the BSP, the nationalist formations and the populist Volya, with no significant effect on GERB voters.
The September 2019 quarterly poll by Alpha Research was done between September 10 and 16 among 1023 adult Bulgarian citizens. A two-tier approach, stratified by region and settlement type, was used, with the selection of respondents by quota based on gender, age and education. The interview method was direct standardised interviews in respondents’ homes, Alpha Research said.