National comparative research: High levels of fear and trust in the National Operations Headquarters (NOH) and the government, despite that – a decrease in the level of patience among Bulgarians.

The overall level of fear, revolving around the virus still stays high, however some values have dropped. There are concerns about people keeping their jobs. There is a high acceptance rate for the measures that the government took, nonetheless they are lower than the shock rates we had at the start of the state of emergency. Almost every Bulgarian is certain, that our country is dealing with the spreading of the virus more effectively than the other European countries. It could be speculated, that because of those achievements and the low rates of infected, the impatience grows when it comes to easing the measures, especially opening the parks, and travelling between cities. According to the majority, the moment for a serious demobilization has not yet come, but they also would not want an extension of the state of emergency after the month of May. The society values every measure, differently. People expect the government to take actions when it comes to the stability of the economy, and the actions taken by now are not seen as effective.

 

Analysis are the result from an in-depth sociological research, carried out between 915 people via telephone interview in the national display panel between the 21st and the 23rd of April. This is the 5th wave of research, which allows the examination of some tendencies, as well as a comparison with the first ever in-depth research a month ago.

The rest of the surveys, including the international ones you can see here, here and here.

The international surveys carried out by ‘Gallup international’ you can see here and here.

 

 

Fear and hope

The societal fear stays high, however it is starting to decrease when compared with last month’s wave of research (the first ever symptoms for ceasing  in the growth of fear were announced in the survey a month ago). The patterns of decrease are obvious by the reaction of the people in the pandemic itself – those reactions form three groups:

Panic group (they presume that this is a lethal virus and it threatens humankind, furthermore it is the most fearsome thing people have seen) stays at 24% now ( with only 2 points lower than a month ago), however the anxious group ( presumes that the coronavirus is dangerous, but in the end it is only a just a strong flu) decreases with 7 points at 57%, and lastly the calm group (presumes that the situation is  more or less over exaggerated) is increasing by 6 points at 18%.

Clearly, the percentage of the calm group is higher, with the one of the anxious groups decreasing, however still remaining relevant.  On to their relevance must be added that of the constant shares of panic reactions.

Worldwide there have been 3 models of reactions to the pandemic:

Firstly, commonly known as ‘Chinese’: it is characterized by the drastic measures and the government’s involvement in the personal life. 13% are approving of it now, 30% a month ago.

Second, commonly known as ‘European’: it is characterized by the forbiddance of people gathering in public spaces. 48% approve it now, 42% a month ago.

 

Thirdly, knowns as the ‘Swedish’: it is characterized by the normalization of life, people get sick from the virus and then they become immune to it. 33% approve that method, with 23% last month.

The ‘European’ method has the widest approval in our county; however, the ‘Swedish’ model is becoming more popular than the ‘Chinese’ one. This could be explained, because of the low infection rate in Bulgaria. The more successful the measures, the more they themselves start to feel unnecessary in the eyes of some people. To all this, it must be added that the values of propensity, when it comes to the feeling of threat, might be doubted.

Of course, Bulgarians remain realists: 33% say that they personally fear the virus. A month ago, they were close to that number – 37%. 1/3 state that they see the possibility of dying because of the virus, 55% think that about a member of their family. The shares are not low.

The hope for a cure or a medicine still stands: 46% hope for this, however 42% state the opposite. There rest are hesitant to answer.

The overall societal approval of the actions by the government

93% accept that, Bulgaria is tackling the issue better than the other European countries. This is a really high testimony for the efforts made by this point, and it is also higher than last month’s 87%.

 

The approval of the government stays high. With that, it could be examined a decrease of the extreme values.  This could be related to a normal period of erosion, and with some problems, but also with calming, which gives way for critical evaluation.  The trust in the different members of the government, NOH, the prime minister Borisov and other, is somewhere between 60% and 80%, distrust is 1/5 to 1/3. A month ago, the approval of the government looked a little better, however it still displays higher than the trust, which it usually gains. Because of this, it has to be reminded that the values of the government and its institutions are not the ordinary ones but are strictly situational and are crisis values that are linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, with societal stress normalizing, those values will depart from their peak states.

Sighs of assuaging are relevant in the answers about how people value the measures of the government against the pandemic:

62% say that the measures are enough, with 66% in the end of March and 66% in mid-March;

28% state that the measures are excessive, with 20% in the end of March and 17% in mid-March;

8% think that the measures are not enough, with 12% in the end of March and 15% in mid-March;

2% is the share of those who are hesitant to answer.

 

The opinion, that the regulations are adequate, is continuing to be the most popular, however in the last weeks there is a noticeable growth in the ones that say, ‘excessive’ and a decrease in the shares of the other answers. Obviously, because of the successful restrictions by now and some positive signals from Europe, the urge for let-up of the measures has occurred, with the combination of the evermore sunny days.

Despite all of this, Bulgarians stay conscious: ‘I’m really irritated with the restrictions’ say 31%, however 69% state ‘I approve the restrictions, without getting irritated’. And when asked is it time for restrictions to decrease, 52% say ‘it is early’. There are 44%, however who think ‘it is time’, what that means is that the public opinion is divided when it comes to this question. Impatience is not overwhelming, but it is not to be underestimated. This could explain, why the majority of 53% find that the state of emergency, is not to be extended after the 13th of May. Although, 30% think the opposite and the rest are hesitant. It might be the case that, here not only the personal interpretation is being tangled, but also the hope of many for a swift handling of the disease.

The concrete regulations – pro/con

Practically, the different regulations were met with high approval till now, however it seems that the mobilization has fallen compared to the previous month. For example, the forbiddance of public gatherings, like going to the movies, restaurants, gyms and others is met with approval 83% (with 94% a month ago). The limitation of tourists accumulated 81% approval today, with 90% last month. Limitation for Bulgarians to travels outside the country:

75% approval today, with 88% last month.

The restrictions for travel between cities, however, is not met with approval among the majority – a month ago it was approved by 56%, 40% did not approve, and the rest were hesitant. Nowadays, the situation has turned around: 53% say that the limitation for travel between cities is wrong, with 40% saying that it is correct. The rest are finding it difficult to answer. As an example, the curfew a month ago had an approval rate of 59% and 39% had the opposite opinion. Today, the opinions are totally different: 69% disapprove and 27% approve. The rest are hesitant. Of course, the fact that the government itself decided not to follow some of those measures, plays a role.

With a serious dissatisfaction and critique is met the decision to close the parks: 59% are ‘against, and 39% are ‘for’. The rest find it difficult to answer. On the other side of the spectrum, are the opinions about the regulations regarding Easter: 77% approve of them, with 21% who do not. Maybe things could have been different if the Easter measures where not fully operationalized. It seems that the Bulgarian society, has developed a certain knowledge about the situation and therefore can evaluate the different kind of measures with a calmer approach.

Economy

The monthly income has decrease, say 47% now and 37% last month;

I work from home – 25% now, with 22% a month ago;

9% say that they have lost their job now, with 3% a month ago;

14% say that, they expect to lose their job, 12% a month ago;

My work hours have decrease, 16% ‘yes’, with 14% a month ago;

All of this shows a growth, although not sufficient, in the unease for the workplace. It would seem that, in some cases this unease is starting to prevail over the fear of the virus. 7% now claim they decided themselves not to go to work, as oppose to 11% a month ago. 28% are self-isolating now, with 36% a month ago. People have given more than one answer – they have experienced different issues and have taken different measures to tackle them.

A month ago, 29% were worried, that they could not pay their credits. Now 9% state that they have stopped paying them. 5% say the same about their leasing.

56% have not heard of an exact plan or have not at all heard of a plan from the government for the resolvent of the economic backlashes, when the pandemic is over. 38% believe more or less in the opposite and the rest cannot decide. It would seem that the society is generally approving the work of the government when it comes to limiting the disease, however it is becoming clearer that it requires the same work for the containment of the economic crisis.


Methodology:CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing); national represenative sample (915 effective interviews ) for the population aged 18 and over. 21-23.04.2020 г. Absolute maximum error 3.3 at 50% shares. 1% of the sample equals ~ 55 thousand people.

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