Poll: New Bulgarian Government's First 100 Days Have Brought Some Reassurance

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Sofia, February 17 (BTA) – The Gallup International polling institute said on Tuesday that the first 100 days of the new Bulgarian government have brought some reassurance for society. This seems like a period of calm after years of political crisis, or calm before the upcoming local elections, Gallup International CEO Purvan Simeonov said, speaking at a news conference.
The institute’s monthly surveys in December and January already found growing stability and fragile hope, although devoid of enthusiasm, and the findings were confirmed by the latest survey carried out between January 30 and February 5.
The latest monthly Political and Economic Index compiled by Gallup International shows that public confidence in Bulgarian government institutions and public optimism about the national economy remain low, but they are considerably higher than they were before the second government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was formed in November. People are now generally disinclined to stage protests against the government or to precipitate early elections. The ruling parties remain stable, the findings show.
Gallup notes that the increasing public confidence in the Borissov government is typical of any new government. In February, 32 per cent of those polled by the institute answered “yes” to the question “Do you have confidence in the government?”, while 56 per cent answered “no.” This implies a positive shift that has continued for a third month in succession. Before the new government was formed, the rate of confidence in its predecessor had fallen to around 15 per cent, and the no-confidence rate was around or above 70 per cent.
The vast majority of supporters of the ruling GERB party are also supportive of the new government, but the electorate of the Reformist Bloc and the Patriotic Front (which belong to the ruling coalition) has expressed less confidence in the incumbents. The constituents of ABV (the fourth member of the ruling coalition) visibly lack in enthusiasm about the cabinet.
Parliament’s ratings have also improved somewhat over the last 100 days, but still, the legislature remains one of the least liked institutions. In February, 21 per cent of respondents expressed confidence in Parliament and 67 per cent said they have no confidence in it.
The President’s approval rating remains steady, but relatively low from a long-range perspective, at about one-third of those polled. His disapproval rating is more than 50 per cent. The incumbent President, Rosen Plevneliev, is traditionally among the politicians who perform best in opinion polls.
Looking at political parties, those in the ruling coalition maintain steady ratings. The leading member, GERB, is supported by 26.4 per cent of all eligible voters, the Reformist Bloc is backed by 6 per cent, the Patriotic Front by 3.2 per cent, and ABV by 2.6 per cent. These four parties would again make it into Parliament if elections were held now, the pollsters say. The same applies to the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, which enjoys the support of 14.5 per cent of eligible voters, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (also in opposition), with its
7 per cent. A third opposition member, Ataka, would also stand a chance of entering the next parliament if elections were held now, as it would be supported by 3 per cent of eligible voters.
Individual politicians in the Reformist Bloc and the Patriotic Front, such as Radan Kanev, Meglena Kuneva and Valeri Simeonov, have been improving their positive ratings faster than their negative ones in the last few months, Gallup says. The Bulgarian member of the European Commission, Kristalina Georgieva, enjoys 55 per cent approval in February, Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova has recorded 44 per cent, and the approval rating of Health Minister Peter Moskov has risen further to one-third. Similar levels are also reported for Prime Minister Boyko
Borissov, National Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev, Regional Development and Public Works Minister Liliyana Pavlova, Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds and Economic Policy Tomislav Donchev, Vice President Margarita Popova, and Deputy Prime Minister for Demographic and Social Policy and Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ivailo Kalfin.
Gallup notes that comparing individual politicians can be misleading because they have different portfolios. Except for Kristalina Georgieva, Yordanka Fandakova and Konstantin Penchev, the rest have a deficit of approval, meaning that their approval ratings are lower than their disapproval scores.
The share of optimists has increased to 23 per cent in the Gallup polls, and that of pessimists is 62 per cent in February. The proportion of Bulgarians who want new early elections remains relatively low, at 15 per cent in January, while a year earlier it was almost three times as much, political scientist Dimiter Ganev said. Analysts attribute this fact to a high level of fatigue which has built up since the period of political upheaval between 2013 and 2014 and a widespread desire for stability.
In the February survey, 41 per cent of respondents expect the economic situation in Bulgaria to worsen in the year ahead, 31 per cent expect it to remain unchanged, and 16 per cent believe it will improve.
Eight per cent of interviewees expect that the finances of their households will improve, 27 per cent fear they will worsen, and 50 per cent do not expect any change. In the past autumn, 36 per cent of respondents feared deterioration of their household finances.
Public confidence in banks continues to rebound. In the latest Gallup survey, 30 per cent of respondents say they have confidence in the banking system, and 50 per cent say they do not. This compares with 20 and 60 per cent, respectively, around the end of summer and the beginning of autumn 2014, said analyst Eva Slavkova.
Despite the apparent reassurance, public fears do not pass unnoticed by Gallup. Nearly two respondents in three are anxious that pension money may run out. Similar proportions of respondents have fears about the Islamic State or other terrorist threats.
The image of the EU in Bulgaria remained very positive throughout 2014, particularly as compared with perceptions of domestic political developments. The EU’s confidence rating in Bulgaria is around 60 per cent. Understandably, that of NATO is lower, at around one-third.
Public institutions received low marks for their response to disasters in 2014, Gallup says.