The established government is accepted as an inevitable option, albeit with a lot of criticism and without clear expectations against the background of rather positive perceptions of the period of the caretaker governments. The government is gathering expectations for a budget that is both stable and social. On the neuralgic geopolitical issues of the day, however, there is no tailwind.
These are the conclusions of a quick poll by the independent programme of Gallup International Balkan, conducted between 14 and 19 July. Such probes are good for building hypotheses in a dynamic environment and show what the public’s instincts are.
Expectations and assessments
The first actions of the new government are apparently read as some reassurance, judging by the data: 45.9% are optimistic about the work ahead and 43.3% are pessimistic. In practice, equal levels of optimism and pessimism in Bulgarian conditions are not a bad start.
The distance of time, on the other hand, gives a generally positive assessment of the caretaker governments of recent years: 52.9% are those who give a positive assessment and 35.7% – negative. The rest cannot judge. Perhaps this is why there is a natural reaction against the ideas of removing caretaker governments from the constitution (60.9% show this instinct vs. 29.4%). President Radev’s relatively higher popularity compared to other politicians in the country clearly plays a role here. This is probably why 59.4% do not accept the view that he is defending Russian, not Bulgarian, interests, while 31.1% do. The rest hesitate.
The race of opinions
The “laboratory” test of attitudes to popular statements shows no surprises. As if GERB were not as much victims of the “assembly” as the PP and DB. Popular claims that the two sides have effectively cheated their voters by coming together meet with automatic agreement, but in the case of GERB the numbers are more muted: 53.6% share the view that GERB cheated their voters, versus 63.9% believing the same about PP-DB. The claim of external pressure, which has gained popularity, also meets with automatic acceptance: 49.4% against 33.7% are those who accept the refrain “pressure from the American embassy”. The fact is, however, that Bulgarians clearly acknowledge that the current government may not be the best, but it was the only meaningful option – 62.7% accept this view, while 32.8% do not.
It turns out that to the greatest extent – 23.2% – it is difficult to form an opinion on the appointment of Borislav Sarafov as Acting Prosecutor General. 15.9% agree that this appointment is good, while 60.9% do not share this opinion, which can largely be attributed to the relatively low levels of trust in the judiciary as a whole.
A majority of 64.2% agree that candidates for local elections should not have close ties to the former State Security. 29.6% disagree with the statement. The rest could not decide.
The difficult decisions facing the country
20.0% are in favour, 78.1% are against when it comes to intensifying military aid to Ukraine. The data are not surprising when it comes to the timing of euro adoption. 21.4% are in favour of speeding up, but 71.9% are against Bulgaria rushing the introduction. Such data are expected against the background of previous research practice. They show the need for a decisively more active information and persuasion campaign.
At the same time, however, when asked what the priority of the budget should be, there does not seem to be the expected strong social instinct at the expense of everything else. 45.1% are attracted by social accents in the budget, but even more – 49.0% – rather share the idea of financial stability of the country as a priority. The two opinions do not contradict each other, but the experiment with their opposition shows what priority Bulgarians give. On the issue of North Macedonia, however, there are apparently no two opinions in Bulgaria – it is hard to accept any idea that Skopje’s European path could be a solution to our bilateral disputes. It is expected, first of all, to resolve the disputes before Skopje gets a European path.
The snap poll was conducted between 14-19 July among 802 people by telephone interview, representative of the adult population of the country. The maximum standard deviation was ±3.5% at the 50% proportions. 1% of the total sample equals about 54 thousand people.