Bulgarians perceive politics and corruption as equal. Corruption and political interference in the work of the Judiciary are seen as major problems of the Judicial system. The need for reforming it is conceptualized (in the mass attitude) as removing corruption and political interference, rather than improving institutional expertise. Respondents’ perception of these issues is with high dose of inertia and habitual answers. These are the data from an opinion poll conducted by “Gallup international” among 1605 respondents countrywide via telephone interviews. The research is independently funded by Gallup and is part of the company’s own research agenda on the Judiciary, delinquency and institutional integrity.
Politization and Professionalization
Bulgarians have higher trust towards institutions, which are depoliticized, have more operational oriented work, even repressive. Conversely, institutions connected more to political power or the Judiciary are by default critically viewed.
National revenue agency (approval 60% and disapproval 32%), State agency for National security (approval 51% and 35% disapproval), Ministry of internal affairs (54% approval and 42% disapproval) is significant compared to that of the Judiciary, Ministry of Justice or the National Assembly.
Somewhere in the middle of the trust, rating is the government approval 42% and disapproval 54%). Such approval favorably seen because of the presence of a loyal electorate. However, this reason alone cannot pull the National assembly from the last position it occupies in the approval ratings. 22% approval, conversely there is a 75% disapproval).
Trust in institutions revisited
The study confirms previous conclusions that measure trust in institutions. The goal above all of the poll was to experimentally asses institutions, which have direct relation to fight against crime.
As usual, the European Union is viewed as a corrective of Bulgarian institutions. 64% approval the fact that an oversight mechanism by the EU on Bulgarian law enforcement agencies. There are 30% that do not approve the mechanism of oversight.
Contact with institutions
Citizens’ contact with institutions, particularly with the Judiciary is stringent. The Prosecution (together with the Customs) is contacted significantly less, the Court as well. By comparison, nearly 70% of Bulgarians declare they had contact with the National Healthcare System. Nearly 50% of the respondents had contact with the Municipal administration.
Over one quarter of respondents, claim that in the last two years they had to contact the Police. Conversely, the same data for the Prosecution is only 7%. Only 1% of the 1605 respondents acknowledge a Prosecutor has charged them. Participating in court trial 10% of respondents.
Note: Actual contact with institutions cannot be measured with these data since this data measures the emotional perception of respondents. It should not be overlooked that respondents perceive institutions differently. Reasons for that can be named a few: trust in institutions, their public image etc.
Data show that a big portion of institutional assessment is determined ad hoc, without citizens necessarily having had previous access to institutions. The public has engraved the Judiciary as an institution close to political power; therefore, it receives disapproval for this.
Where is corruption located?
Asked to grade the highest corruption and least corrupt respondents place politicians as most corrupt (23%), the healthcare system. The Police is placed in third place with 16%.
Bulgarians perceive highest corruption levels among politicians, without having contact with them. When asked whether respondents have been asked for a bribe by a politician, only 2% claim have been asked for a bribe by a politician.
Honesty in the answers towards various institutions remain different, despite actual contact with corruption and corruption perception show that society perceives politics as the most corrupt public territory. Political interference together with corruption is seen as one of the major problems of the Judiciary.
“Problems in the Judiciary are created by politicians and they do not have incentive to change the current situation”. Nearly 90% agree with this claim. Politicians rather than legislation is seen as the problem.
Corruption and political interference
Corruption and political interference is seen as a major reason for no effective sentences. 55% of respondents put this as a major problem. Old and inadequate legislation, lack of quality work by the the Prosecution and Ministry of interior is much less of a factor. Such questions do no not measure actual informed opinion however; the habitual answers are clear about an established public image.
72% of respondents say they are not informed about the ongoing reform in the judicial system. There is lack of trust that reform in the judicial system will lead to overcoming corruption. In addition, corruption is placed as the most serious problem of the Judiciary – 33% of respondents. Qualification, ethics and moral is found to be important for 29% of respondents. 16% consider political interference as the most serious problem. Fast and effective court trials is mentioned by 10% of respondents.
These numbers suggest that details on the reform strategy have remained on a level of expertise and have not reached the general public. It continues to place problems as corruption, moral and political interference but does not identify a relation between reform on the one hand and no corruption or political interference.
More than 1/5th of respondents say that they have been subject of delinquent act in the last two years. Biggest part of subjects of delinquent acts are from Sofia. Asked provocatively which institution is dealing worst with delinquency, the Court and Ministry of interior stand out among the rest.
What are the reasons for Petty crime?
28% consider the light sentences by courts as first reason. Next are problems in the Ministry of Interior and Police, as well as slow Judiciary. Lastly, is the work of the Prosecution.
Lack of transparency, slow Judiciary are named a few reasons. The independence of the Judiciary is seen as a mass will.
53% agree that court trials are unnecessarily long. On the other hand, 44% share the view that the length of a trial is indifferent as long as a just sentence is issued.
17% of respondents think that the Prosecution should defend the interests of the state, 76% think it should defend the interests of the citizens. This shows skeptic attitude towards government and mature democratic attitude.
At the same time 80% think that problem of the Prosecution can be solved with more control. 16% think they can be solved with independency in action. There is no clear informed opinion of the public on facts and details of the problems in the Judiciary. One thing is clear about citizen’s perceptions that the Judiciary should work for the people and be accountable.