Alpha Research: Economy worries overshadow Bulgarians’ Covid-19 concerns

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Worries about the economy and the continued political uncertainty in Bulgaria overshadowed concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the results of an Alpha Research poll released on October 5.

The poll was done between September 21 and 30 among 1031 adult Bulgarians via face-to-face interviews.

Half the respondents expected the economy to worsen in the coming months and 54 per cent said that they had negative expectations about the political situation. About 15 per cent were optimistic on both issues.

By comparison, only 32 per cent of respondents had negative expectations about the Covid-19 pandemic and 23 per cent were optimistic.

“On their own, these figures are not grounds for optimism because underestimating the virus and precautionary measures can have a boomerang effect, deepening the health crisis and, subsequently, escalating the economic and political crises,” Alpha Research said.

In the political arena, the poll found that 66 per cent of respondents supported, fully or to some degree, the ongoing anti-government protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Prosecutor-General Ivan Geshev.

Forty-four per cent of respondents were also in favour of the government’s resignation and early elections, while the rest were either in favour of Borissov completing his term (31 per cent) or a new government taking office to see out the term of the current National Assembly (25 per cent).

Since the previous Alpha Research poll in May, Borissov’s approval took a hit – falling to 20.3 per cent from 23.1 per cent – and his disapproval rose from 49.3 per cent to 55.8 per cent.

His main political opponent, President Roumen Radev, also saw a dip in approval to 42 per cent (from 43.6 per cent), while his disapproval increased from 22.9 per cent to 28.6 per cent.

Among political party leaders, socialist Kornelia Ninova bounced back five points from a four-year low to 20 per cent. Both her and Borissov were lagging in approval behind the leaders of two “recently-launched political projects”, television showman Slavi Trifonov on 36 per cent and former ombudsman Maya Manolova on 33 per cent.

“The two main features of public sentiment at the end of September – the serious decline in trust in the government and uncertainty about how to exit the political crisis – are having a direct impact on voting intentions,” Alpha Research said.

Borissov’s Gerb, the majority partner in the government coalition, was still in the lead with 20.5 per cent among those respondents that had a firm intention to vote. The largest opposition party, the socialists, followed closely on 19.6 per cent, bouncing back from the 12.2 per cent low registered in the Alpha Research poll in May.

Trifonov’s party was third on 14.9 per cent, but showed signs of reduced mobilisation to vote among its supporters, Alpha Research said.

Support for the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms was mobilising and stood at 9.9 per cent (up from 6.4 per cent in May), while centre-right Democratic Bulgaria was among those to benefit the most from the ongoing protests with 9.4 per cent (up from 3.7 per cent).

Manolova’s party was seen as clearing the four per cent threshold at the next parliamentary elections with 4.6 per cent, while the junior partner in the ruling coalition, ultra-nationalist United Patriots group of parties, was on the bubble with 3.8 per cent.

“If elections were held today, we would likely have six parties in Parliament, which given their positions and (in)compatibility between the main political forces, would make forming a government a serious challenge. It should be noted that 10.1 per cent of respondents with a firm intention to vote were still making up their minds, which could change the party rankings in a real voting situation,” Alpha Research said.

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