Poll: 60% of Bulgarians firmly support country’s membership of EU

About 60 per cent of Bulgarians maintain their categorical support for Bulgaria’s membership of the European Union and are not looking for another geopolitical alternative, according to a poll by the Alpha Research agency, the results of which were released on March 13

At the same time, however, both due to the failure of Bulgaria to approach the core of EU countries in terms of living standards and equality before the law, and due to the series of crises in Europe in the last decade, skepticism towards the way of governing the Union and its specific policies is growing at a faster pace, the poll found.

Twelve per cent of adult Bulgarians said that they fully approve of the way the EU is run to date, 42 per cent only somewhat, and 39 per cent are definitely dissatisfied, according to the poll.

The poll covered public attitudes towards the main policies of the European Union, the intentions on voting for the European Parliament and potential electoral attitudes.

Although Bulgarians are not paying attention to many of the details of European policies and debates, there is a trend of Bulgarians strongly approving of those policies that give them a chance to benefit from the achievements and guarantees of the more developed European countries, but they are most critical of those that are implemented, or are about to be implemented by Brussels at the national level.

For example, the survey registered the most positive attitude towards the possibility of Bulgarians turning to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in case of violation of their rights (84 per cent).

Next comes satisfaction with  opportunities for labour migration, meaning working in other EU member states (81 per cent) and the planned construction of a common European security system (68 per cent).

The expansion of the euro zone and the Schengen zone (53 per cent) and the influence of European funds for the development of Bulgaria (51 per cent) are also evaluated predominantly positively, but they also meet with a higher share of negative opinions – about 30 per cent each.

The public reactions to the effect of European policies in three important areas are contradictory: the Green transition – 34 per cent positive attitude against 42 per cent negative, and for every fourth Bulgarian this pact remains completely incomprehensible; European aid to Ukraine (38 per cent supporting vs. 45 per cent not supporting); and the policy for labour migration from non-EU countries to Bulgaria (34 per cent:49 per cent).

Bulgarians are the most sensitive and negative towards those proposals and policies that also encounter the strongest negative response elsewhere in Europe: migration policy, and in particular the policy for the solidarity distribution of migrants, is approved by only 19 per cent with more than three times as many negative opinions; agricultural policy (related to the ambiguities surrounding the so-called green transition) – 26 per cent approval with twice as much disapproval; and increasing the powers of the EC at the expense of national governments – 77 per cent disapprove.

Although Bulgarians personally see benefits for themselves and for the country from EU membership, for 17 years they have not been able to convince themselves that how the European Union will function and what kind of Europe we will live in depends on their vote.

It is therefore not surprising that the voter turnout in European elections is the lowest possible of any other election, Alpha Research said.

The upcoming vote is no exception – no more than a third say they are firmly ready to go to the polls in June.

The agency said that if this trend continues, the number of voters may fall below two million people, similar to the partial elections for MEPs in 2007.

“Undoubtedly, the most interesting is the answer to the question – how do conflicting attitudes towards EU policies and weak motivation to participate in elections affect electoral preferences?” Alpha Research said.

The highest mobilization is shown by the two extreme groups – the biggest Euro-enthusiasts and the biggest Eurosceptics.

As a result, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria increased its result from hypothetical national elections (up to 19.9 per cent) and shortened the distance with GERB to 2.7 points, which collected 22.6 per cent of the vote of the voters.

Vuzrazhdane, similar to other European countries, where Eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties perform slightly above their national potential, was at 13.2 per cent.

“What kind of campaign the parties will run – with a purely European or a national focus, which figures they will nominate for MEPs and what the party’s condition will be in three months will undoubtedly also influence the concrete results,” the agency said.

“However, there is certainly a difference in the logic of the European and national vote, and whether the two elections will be held together or separately will have an impact on the national political picture.”

The poll was done from March 1-7 2024 by Alpha Research, is published on the agency’s website and was carried out using the agency’s own funds. The survey was done among 1000 adult citizens from all over the country. A stratified two-stage sample was used with a quota according to the main socio-demographic characteristics. The information was collected through a direct standardised interview with tablets at the homes of the respondents.

(Photo: Interior Ministry)

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