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The war and the fridge contents shape Bulgarians’ political preferences

The World Bank predicts that global consumption will contract due to the crisis stemming from the war in Ukraine. In this situation, the Bulgarian society is expecting adequate policies aimed at protecting people from becoming poor. According to Ivaylo Kalfin, Director of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), there is no way to maintain everyone’s standard of living. During the current crisis, the government can help those who cannot pay the price, Ivaylo Kalfin commented in an interview for the BNR.

Inflation in Bulgaria continues to rise. In April, it increased with 2.5% as compared to the previous month. However, the annual inflation reached 14.4%. People are worried that inflation is melting their incomes with each passing day. Various measures aimed to help citizens and Bulgaria’s economy offset inflation have been circulating in the media in the past week. Employers and trade unions supported some of them. Other measures failed to ease tensions. However, there are problems with the legitimacy of the measures, because they were announced only by one of the parties within the ruling coalition “We Continue the Change”, led by Premier Kiril Petkov and Finance Minister Asssen Vassilev.

“The coalition agreement has not materialized in a full-blooded government strategy. Everything is blurred and there isn’t any long-term strategy”, political scientists Lyubomir Stefanov said. In his view, the government takes measures here and now, but the country lacks long-term measures. According to Ivaylo Kalfin, the parties in the ruling coalition behave like children in a shop. “We hear all kinds of wishes and everyone wants more and more”.

Many people wonder whether the multitude of crises and the different signals coming from the ruling coalition could lead to a new political reality.

“We are witnessing a change in political elite. It is unexperienced and learns on the go. That is why there is a general feeling of insecurity”, Dobromir Zhivkov, Head of Market Links sociological agency told the BNR. The agency presented its own public opinion survey, commissioned by bTV. People fear they may lose purchasing power. However, the public is not ready for early Parliamentary elections, data of the survey show.

“Trust in institutions and the main political figures have declined over the past month. This is mainly due to the several crises that form the perfect storm. These trends have been unfolding since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and coincide with the first months of the current cabinet. Trust in Bulgaria’s government and National Assembly continues to fall.”

Trust in the country’s Parliament fell from 22% in January to 8% in April. Meanwhile, trust in Bulgaria’s government decreased with 19%. It fell from 36% in January to 15% in April. Trust in Premier Kiril Petkov has fallen as well. He has an approval rating of 17% and a disapproval rating of 68%. According to the survey, GERB party headed by former Premier Boyko Borissov is again the first political force in Bulgaria. 22.9% of the polled would vote for GERB if elections were now. “We Continue the Change” comes second with 16.9%, followed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (11%), the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (9.3%) and Vazrazhdane (8.6%).

The Bulgarian Socialist Party is perhaps the only political party that manages to promote its goals and tasks in the government well enough. However, a fair part of its voters like Stefan Yanev’s new political project “Bulgarian Rise”. Others started to show radical political views and are perhaps lured by Vazrazhdane party, said Vesislava Tancheva, expert in political communications. In her words, the voters of the socialist party proved false of the claim that the social measures and economic well-being are the only argument when choosing your favorite party, because despite the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s efforts in the social sphere, many people become disappointed and prefer Stefan Yanev’s party. 

“Practically, this refutes the fact that having a full refrigerator is the only argument when choosing your favorite political party. On the contrary, the war also affects people’s choice and the sociological surveys prove this. Trust in the country’s cabinet has significantly decreased since the end of February”, Vesislava Tancheva explained.

Compiled by: Elena Karkalanova

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