Since 2021 the Heinrich Böll Foundation Thessaloniki Office started its activities in Bulgaria. During the preparatory phase and in the midst of a highly unstable and politically volatile environment in the country with constant changes, it became clear that in order to sketch a complete picture of the social and political reality it would be useful to conduct a survey to understand the perception of all the above directly by the people living in the country.
Alpha Research, a company with many years of experience and deep knowledge of the field, conducted a quantitative survey in November 2022. The sample consisted of 1000 people aged 18 and over, covering geographically the whole of Bulgaria. The issues around which the questionnaire was developed were the following: respondents' perceptions on the political situation and the political instability, on the war in Ukraine and Bulgaria's position in it, the participation or not of citizens in public life, perceptions on environmental and ecological issues, and finally questions about energy poverty and the possible difficulties respondents face because of it.
The main conclusions of the survey were that the political environment is highly polarized, there is almost no political consensus on any issue, regardless of its importance, and the feeling of insecurity is widespread. The majority of respondents want political stability, but feel that this has very little chance of being achieved.
The main consequence of this seems to be a tendency towards political alienation as a reaction to political instability, and even on the war in Ukraine, although respondents are opposed to Russia's aggressive stance, there seems to be a reluctance to show a more definite and firm stance towards Russia.
Regarding the participation of respondents in civil activities, it is very low with only 3% of respondents answering positively to the question on active participation.
Also, in relation to environmental issues, although there is a general consensus that these issues are very important, however the majority of respondents place them at the bottom of the hierarchy of the problems they face and the preferred solutions are those that do not require a change in lifestyle and do not impose additional costs on the household.
It seems that the situation in the country is not sustainable. From 2013 onwards, the country is in the midst of serious political instability and public disappointment without being able to form a stable and viable government. The situation is dynamic, unstable and constantly changing, whereas groups of interest influence and maintain instability. Any event, regardless of its significance, can trigger a strong societal reaction and thus lead to unexpected developments. It is difficult to predict what the outcome will be, i.e. whether stability will ultimately prevail or whether mistrust will create a fertile ground for the development of more radical views and the proliferation of its supporters. It’s quite characteristic that nationalistic parties have gained quite a few supporters in relation to the previous elections showing that disappointment can lead to radical vote. At the same time, people have a negative opinion about the coalition government ruling the country from December 2021 until June 2022 and parties seem as they cannot lead but are rather following on the developments.
You can read or download the whole survey below.