Alpha Research: Borissov’s GERB widens lead ahead of Bulgaria’s April 4 elections

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party was expected to win the largest number of seats in the April 4 parliamentary elections, according to the results of a poll by Alpha Research, which showed its lead over the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) grow during the election campaign.

Done between March 27 and 30, the results of the Alpha Research survey show GERB as having 28.1 per cent of the support of those who intend to vote and the BSP at 19.8 per cent. In a previous Alpha Research poll before the start of the campaign, the two parties had 28.5 per cent and 23.2 per cent, respectively.

The polling agency said that BSP’s drop was mainly due to some supporters switching to the political movement of former ombudsman Maya Manolova and anti-government protest organisers the “Poison Trio”, but also concerns that some older socialist supporters had about voting during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The party formed around cable television presenter Slavi Trifonov has 12.7 per cent, down from 13.3 per cent in the previous survey, with the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms’ support unchanged at 12.5 per cent.

The reformist Democratic Bulgaria coalition has 6.3 per cent support, up from 5.7 per cent, and the coalition between Manolova, who is a former socialist MP, and the “Poison Trio” had six per cent, up from 4.5 per cent.

Krassimir Karakachanov’s ultra-nationalist VMRO had four per cent, which is also the threshold to win seats in the National Assembly.

Alpha Research said that the campaign saw an “internal battle of sorts for the radical and populist vote”, with VMRO closest to the parliamentary representation threshold, while the coalition between Valeri Simeonov’s NFSB and Vesselin Mareshki’s Volya nearly tripled its initial support to reach 3.1 per cent.

About 51 per cent of those polled firmly intended to vote, which would translate into a turnout between 2.6 million and 2.8 million at the April 4 elections, but concerns about the pandemic could put downward pressure on turnout, which could be as low as 2.1 million.

One in 10 responders said that they had “serious concerns” about the pandemic and a further 36 per cent had “some concerns,” according to the poll.

“If on Election Day these fears win out, there could be a major reshuffling of the electoral picture. Up to the last moment, it is not so much the parties but the virus that has the upper hand,” Alpha Research said.

Lower turnout would favour parties with a strong core of supporters, while a higher turnout would be beneficial for “protest movements”, the polling agency said. The pandemic created an additional level of uncertainty, but with as many as seven parties “having the potential to surpass the threshold”, none of them was close to winning an outright majority of seats.

On the topic of machine voting, only one quarter of those with a firm intention to vote preferred to use voting machines, while 55.5 per cent would rather use a paper ballot. The remaining 19.1 per cent had yet to make a decision, the survey results showed.

Only supporters of Democratic Bulgaria were nearly evenly split between the two options, as paper ballots were preferred by supporters of other parties, Alpha Research said.

The poll was done among 1013 adult Bulgarians, using only Alpha Research’s own funds. The method was direct standardised interviews, with two-stage stratification by region and type of settlement, with quotas by gender, age and level of education.

(Photo: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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