There is no significant difference in perceptions towards DPS in Bulgarian society. At the same time the positions for DOST are modest despite that only part of the supporters of DPS have a positive attitude towards the new formation. It is tested that the rhetoric of Liutvi Mestan of representing foreign interest in the country.
These are part of the observations from sociological research of ‘Gallup-international balkan’ in the last months. During January, February and March different statements to capture the attitudes and to test how embedded are popular statements in society.
For example, in January the question was asked if the removal of Lyutvi Mestan from the chairman’s position after a speech from Ahmed Dogan was good for the country. 58% of respondents’ answers indicated that this was positive for the country.
The high percentage of people who perceive these changes as good is explained by the traditionally negative attitude towards the party in Bulgarian society. It could be argued that in the context of the internal party crisis in DPS many have seen this as a positive change for the country.
An embedded negative attitude in the opinions towards DPS is visible when respondents were asked to assess the claim ‘Ahmed Dogan defends the interests of Bulgaria’. Despite the worst possible relations between DPS and the Turkish establishment only 15% confirmed that view 2/3rds disagreed with it and the rest could not make a decision.
The DPS and DOST electorate
Sympathizers of DPS are clearly share the opinion that Ahmed Dogan is defending the interests of Bulgaria. This could be explained as a wishful and prestigious answer among the sympathizers and members of the party.
A proof of the division in DPS is the answers to the claim ‘With the removal of Liuytvi Mestan, DPS has become more acceptable as a political party’. 14% agreed, 60% of respondents did not agree and the rest could not give an answer.
At the same time in February, around 2/3rd of all Bulgarian citizens were on the opinion that Liyutvi Mestan is defending the interests of Turkey and only 14% were strongly opposing this view. The DPS electorate is discouraged as expected on this statement.
The dominant interpretations in the public space have clearly found expression in public attitudes. The visit of Liutvi Mestan at the Turkish consulate right after his removal as chairman and the accusations of his defence of Turkish interests have cast a negative attitude to his image.
A different interpretation?
A different interpretation was tested. ‘Ahmed Dogan is defending the interests of Russia’. In February almost half of respondents could not answer. Only 15% were agreeing and nearly 40% weren’t.
In March a question to measure the potential of a new party of Liuytvi Mestan was tested. The claim ‘The former chairman of DPS Liuvi Mestan created a new party called DOST. Would you vote for this party?’ Only 2% of respondents say they would vote for this party. The data becomes more interesting as it is divided by current electorates. Almost 1/4th of the sympathizers of DPS have declared they would vote for Mestan’s new party. The electoral potential of DOST is found only in the ‘ethnic vote’. Potential for expansion is not found in the data for this months.
This means modest positions for DOST in the beginning of its existence but it shows a relative affect over DPS electorate. Perhaps the following months will see attempts of DOST to fight over for new electoral niches so the question for their electoral weight is not a sociological question but rather for party building, support, finances and local structures.