Half of Bulgarians believe that bills like the Counterterrorism bill are assisting fight against terrorism. However, a significant part, or 1/3rd of respondents find such laws abusing civil rights. In a sociological experiment 4/5th of respondents evaluate an inexisting institution – Agency for Counter migrants where 42% of respondents are assessing it positively, thus making it one of the most approved institutions in the country. The affinity towards the “strong arm” is clear, but not without boundaries.
These are the data from the second wave of Gallup’s research on important topics connected to institutions of the Judiciary, crime prevention, Law enforcement, security etc. It is part of the monthly independent research program of the company. The opinion poll was conducted between 14-19 July among 1605 respondents via standardized telephone interview.
The recently discussed Law on Counterterrorism became the incentive for “Gallup international” to place respondents in a classical choice between Freedom and Security. 56% chose the statement supporting that Counterterrorism Laws are generally beneficial to counter terrorism. 32% however share the opinion that such laws are rather limiting citizens’ rights. The proportion of people unfamiliar with this Law and thus cannot decide is not small.
Such questions are an experimental tool to put a respondent in conditions of equally sounding options. Thus, they provide a degree of values for list of options. The questions do not pretend to neither exhaustive nor conclusive.
The younger the respondents, the more likely are to show more sensitivity to the topic of freedom. The older the respondents the more sensitivity is visible for law and order. This attitude overwhelmed in the answers of leftist supporters. Evidently, the left supporters are naturally more inclined to be critical of government, respectively to the Counterterrorism Bill.
Nearly 1/3rd declare that such laws are limiting civic rights. This is also shown by the answers of another experimental question.
62% Choose the option ‘It does not matter if the convicted for crimes are many or few insofar as human rights are accounted for’. 36% claim that ‘even if partially limited, it is important to have more convicts’. Evidently, Bulgarians support more rigorous approach to migration, but would not accept it in the Judiciary. This is an important conclusion relating to the Judiciary and in looking for different models for it.
To test the potential repressive attitudes among Bulgarians a real case was brought to them. A mortally shot migrant by a border police officer from Afghanistan. The respondents are nearly unanimous; the border police officer who shot a migrant has done his duty. The Prosecution was right to terminate the case against the officer. Around 8% of respondents claim the officer has committed murder.
In the first part of the research on institutions it was found that, the most approved institutions were those that sound more power-related as well as depoliticized. To test the affinity towards the ‘strong hand’, respondents were asked a control question about the activity of a non-existent agency – Agency for countering migrants. The general picture shows confusion – equal shares of positive and negative evaluations. The percentages are very close 42% of respondents approve this agency, whereas 41% do not. The share of people who could not answer is small – almost 17%.
The name of the Agency was picked to resemble as close as possible to existing institutions. Despite the confusion 42% approval, rank the non-existent agency near the top rank institutions in the country. This shows that the migrant wave is causing major pressure on the collective conscience and chooses lightly for supports directed at it.
In June this year the wearing of burkas was tested among respondents. Society unanimously supports the ban on bourkas, or clothing that covers the face. 6% of people do not think that wearing bourkas must be banned. These are mainly the people from Turkish or roma origin.
The same research asked respondents if the agree Turkish nationals to visit the country without visas. 68% of respondents do not agree, 16% support the claim.
Beside the international security issues, the telephone survey covered questions concerned with the criminal environment in the country. For example, a case of shooting was presented to respondents to assess how it is perceived. We were interested to see if the shooting was perceived as a mere quarrel, as organized crime or if the state is covering the case. Nearly 2/3rd of respondents consider the case to be an issue of organized crime.
At the same time as the first wave of the research on institutions concluded, Bulgarians tend to see court decisions as a major source of blame compared to the Prosecution, Police etc. These are perhaps long-term attitudes.
In the end, it turns out that Bulgarians are willing to delegate an ability to enforce the Law in a radical way, despite their overall disrespect towards the jurisdiction of the same institutions.
Links to our research on migrants and minorities can be found bellow: