Over 70% of Bulgarians consider settling Skopje’s relations with Sofia a priority, not Skopje’s path to the European Union. Hesitation rates seem to have decreased in the past year but the structure of the registered opinions shows almost an automatic picture. The youngest and different minority groups seem a little more distant from the topic.
The data are form the Gallup International’s monthly research independent programme. The study was conducted “face-to-face” with tablets between November 25 and December 3 among 803 adult Bulgarians.
71.1% of Bulgarians agree that the most important thing is to settle the relations between Republic of North Macedonia and Bulgaria, and it is not so important whether the Republic of North Macedonia will become a member of the European Union. 7.5% are on the opposite opinion. 21.4% are hesitant.
Representatives of the youngest age group and people with lower education seem to be a little more inclined to ignore the problems in our relations with Northern Macedonia. However, the share of those who support the option of North Macedonia to become a member of the EU, regardless of the problems in relations with Bulgaria, does not exceed one tenth. The firmest in their position that the most important thing is to settle the relations between the two countries, and not so much whether North Macedonia will join the EU are those with higher education, the age groups over 45 and the residents of the capital.
The share of the hesitant is again bigger among the younger respondents, people with primary or lower education, as well as the respondents who identify themselves as Turks and Roma. For comparison: in the capital – where groups with higher incomes and education are concentrated, in the more active economic ages – those who give priority to the membership of North Macedonia in the EU are only 2%, and the opposite opinion is nearly 80% .
There is virtually unanimity among the party’s electorate – more than 80% of the PP’s (“We continue with the change” Party) supporters and GERB supporters’ opinion is that settling relations is a priority, and Skopje’s path to the EU comes after that. The shares of hesitation in the MRF are a bit bigger, but even there the most serious accumulation is in the option “settlement of relations is most important”. It is curious that the BSP supporters have a slightly more noticeable share of hesitation compared to the general picture.
A comparison with last November – when this question was asked again – shows that the shar of hesitation has fallen. A year earlier, 5.8% said the most important thing was for North Macedonia to become a member of the EU, even if its relations with Bulgaria were not fully settled, and 57.9% said that the settlement of relations between both countries are paramount. However, more than a third of respondents (36.3%) were hesitant between the two options. Now the share of those who hesitate is much lower. Obviously, the structure of public opinion may be crystallizing.
A year ago, again, the share of hesitant respondents with lower education and the youngest was the largest – up to about 60% of all respondents in 2020 could not decide which of the two options to choose.
In the summer of 2021, Gallup International Balkan surveyed the public opinion on another indicator directly related to the topic – the practical veto imposed by our country on the accession of North Macedonia to the EU. 70% of the respondents in an express telephone survey in June answered that in the dispute with our western neighbor it is best for Bulgaria not to lift the veto, 19.3% said the opposite, and one tenth was hesitant.
The sample is representative of the adult population of the country. The survey was conducted between November 25 and December 3, among 803 people using the “face-to-face” method. The absolute maximum error is ± 3.5% for 50% shares. 1% of the total sample is about 55 thousand people.