Constitutional ideas at the first public reading

Принципна подкрепа за правни реформи, но без особена запознатост; нежелание за намаляване на правомощията на президентите; почти никаква подкрепа за смяна на националния празник или за толериране на двойно гражданство във властта

In-principle support for legal reforms, yet not much recognition; reluctance to reduce the powers of presidents; almost no support for changing the national holiday or tolerating dual citizenship in government.

The first more comprehensive survey of public opinion on the proposed constitutional changes predictably shows low familiarity with a significant number of the ideas under discussion. However, a few public instincts stand out: a headwind for judicial changes, opposition to ideas to reduce presidential prerogatives, and a lack of understanding regarding changing the national holiday or regarding ideas such as affirming the possibility of dual citizenship in passive suffrage. At this stage, the data are more in the nature of hypotheses, because of an apparent lack of detailed discussion and information, and the summer period, which does not suggest signifficant levels of interest in politics.

The findings are from the August edition of Gallup International’s regular independent research programme. The research was conducted through face-to-face interviews with tablets in the period 3-11 August among 807 adult Bulgarians.

“Gallup International Balkan” checked attitudes towards the directions of potential constitutional change available at the beginning of August. The lack of particularly detailed information, the changes on the move, and the expectedly low level of familiarity, especially in the summer season, make the data rather experimental, and do not allow for particularly specific formulations of the questions. But, either way, what is striking is the higher level of conviction when it comes to changes related to empowering citizens or to reforms in the judiciary, and the higher levels of hesitation and denial when it comes to reducing presidential powers. Perhaps the current popularity of the president is having an impact, and it should also be borne in mind that judicial reform issues have been pushed for years against a background of already low levels of confidence in the judiciary. There is serious resistance to the popular thesis of changing the national holiday. Ideas for more tolerance of dual citizenship in political institutions also seem to meet with instinctive fear.

For example, 61.3% agree and 12.2% disagree that it is good for everyone to have the right to file an individual constitutional complaint, i.e. every Bulgarian citizen should be able to appeal to the Constitutional Court. As many as 49.7% do not show any instinct about whether it is good to divide the Supreme Judicial Council into two – a judicial council and a prosecutorial council. 35.5% are at this stage in favour, 14.8% are at this stage against. The idea that people with dual citizenship should have the right to be ministers and MPs in Bulgaria faces clear intuitive criticism: 65% disagree with such a perspective, while 17.5% agree. 29% are in favour of reducing the powers of presidents in the formation of caretaker governments, but 44.3% are against. The rest could not form an opinion. This public instinct is confirmed in the answer to the question about the powers of presidents in relation to the judiciary: 38.5% are negative to the idea of reducing them, against 34.4% positive, and the rest cannot form a clear opinion. On this indicator, clear public positions are practically absent – there is confusion and rather reluctance. However, the instinct is clear with regard to the prosecutors-general in the country: 56.2% generally accept a reduction of their powers, while 17.4% are against it. The rest are undecided.

The question of the national holiday was also experimentally tested. It would be good to hear the various motives on the subject and for other research institutes to show their interpretations on the subject, including outside the summer season. But on a first reading, there is no serious degree of contradiction in the mass consciousness between March third and May twenty-fourth, and the change of the national holiday itself finds little support. The introductory question, as general, abstract and at the same time personal as possible, which of the two holidays is liked more shows the following picture: 33% name the third of March, and 10.7% name the twenty-fourth of May. 48% are in the “middle” option of the type I like them equally, but there are also 2.4% who do not like either of the two holidays. The rest could not answer. As might be expected, among the major electorates there is some variation among those of the MRF and Democratic Bulgaria, but overall the structure of opinion does not show dramatic differences by electorate.

The latter is evidenced in the direct questioning of the type “do we leave or change the date and with which other”. 69,3% accept the staying of the third of March, and a total of 14% are distributed in various other options among the official holidays related to the national history: 9,6% want to change with the twenty-fourth of May, 3% – with the sixth of September, and 1,4% – with the twenty-second of September. The rest could not answer.

The data are part of the monthly independent research program of Gallup International Balkan. The survey was conducted between 3 and 11 August 2023 among 807 people using a face-to-face tablet method. The sample is representative of the country’s adult population. The maximum standard deviation is ±3.5% at 50% proportions. 1% of the total sample equals about 54 thousand people.




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