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The political crisis in Bulgaria will be resolved in the autumn with the local ‎elections, according to sociologist Dimitar Ganev

Nearly 10% of Bulgarians will decide who to vote for at the last moment

Photo: Ani Petrova, BNR

We are only a few days away from the next early parliamentary elections in ‎Bulgaria on April 2. Elections which will be taking place against the background of a war ‎in Europe, disagreements about the military aid that Bulgaria should or should ‎not provide to Ukraine, extreme statements at times about the country's ‎geopolitical future, but also inflation, which increasingly turns out to be ‎unbearable for the average Bulgarian household.

Sociologists report a sluggish ‎campaign that has influenced only 4% of voters in the country. The bomb ‎alerts to a number of schools in Bulgaria since the last week are also making ‎some people hesitate whether to go to vote on Sunday. Fear will further affect ‎the expected low voter turnout, Elena Darieva from the Nasoka sociological agency told BNR. ‎

Elena Darieva

‎"And all this is happening against the background of an extremely interesting ‎situation - we have parity at the top. A difference of less than one percent ‎between the top two political forces effectively means a tie. We have a fair ‎share of undecided voters, even among those who have firmly decided to vote. ‎And our experience from the latest elections in the autumn shows that every ‎tenth person who went out to vote made a decision for whom he would do it ‎either on the day of the election or on the previous day for reflection." ‎

The share of these so-called "spontaneous voters" is between 7 and 14 points, ‎noted Elena Darieva, and this can have a serious impact on the result of the ‎vote. ‎

‎"There is fatigue and oversaturation among the citizens from five consecutive ‎campaigns for early parliamentary elections," said sociologist from "Market ‎Links" Dobromir Zhivkov to BNR. According to him, it is more and more ‎difficult for people to engage with political topics and political apathy has ‎naturally occurred. In his predictions, he even reaches levels of 10-15% for ‎voters who will decide whom to vote for in the last day. And this is not ‎necessarily a bad sign:‎
‎ Dobromir Zhivkov

‎"Almost half of these people have medium and high incomes, they live in Sofia, ‎Plovdiv and other big cities of the country. They follow the political situation in ‎the country and political statements more actively, and this is a sign of a higher ‎political culture. i.e. you don't follow someone blindly.” ‎

On Sunday, the big question seems to be not who will be first, but who will be ‎the third political force. "Vazrazhdane" party, on the one hand, is the formation ‎that has increased its electorate the most. On the other hand, MRF have the ‎most stable positions in the last few elections, says Elena Darieva.‎

At the same time, Prof. Petar Cholakov from the Institute of Sociology and Philosophy at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences draws attention to the "sick" election practice ‎‎- vote buying:‎

Prof. Petar Cholakov
‎"Vote trading will have an impact especially when there is a photo finish. A ‎paper ballot is much more likely to be manipulated than a machine vote."‎

A key topic for those participating in the current election campaign is ‎undoubtedly the war in Ukraine.‎
‎"The war in Ukraine is a test which for the last one year has revealed who is ‎who in Bulgarian politics. And in this regard, I agree with President Rumen ‎Radev that the parties must clearly state their position on it, and I think that this ‎happened in the last month," believes Prof. Petar Cholakov.

‎And despite their clear conviction that all elections are important, both ‎sociologists are adamant that the upcoming elections on Sunday will not be the ‎last. At the moment, Bulgarian political life is in parity, says Assoc. Cholakov. ‎Society has not yet made a decision whether to "move forward, more ‎progressively" or "return to stability", what are the proposals given by the two ‎major political formations fighting for the first place, Dobromir Zhivkov ‎believes. Society itself is divided and politics is a projection of that society, he ‎adds.‎

And the Bulgarian is not an extreme person, adds the political scientist Dimitar ‎Ganev:

Dimitar Ganev
‎"What it looks like today is most likely that the political crisis will not be ‎resolved in these elections. The decision will come after the local elections in ‎the autumn," Ganev believes.‎

And while, by all accounts, it seems that the politicians are looking ahead - ‎towards the 50th Bulgarian Parliament, which will prove to be a better ground ‎for their ideas, the tired citizens will go to the polls on April 2nd, with the hope ‎that the vicious circle of lack of stability will be broken with the 49th National ‎Assembly. Because elections matter. That's how it is with democracy.‎

Stay updated on all news stories and interviews related to the April 2 parliamentary elections in Bulgaria HERE.

Edited by Vesela Krasteva (based on interviews of Diana Yankulova, Silvia Velikova and Petar Volgin from BNR's Horizon channel)

Photos: BNR, archive

Translated and published by Rositsa Petkova
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