Public anger over corruption hits support for Bulgarian government – Metro US

Public anger over corruption hits support for Bulgarian government

FILE PHOTO: EU leaders summit in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: EU leaders summit in Brussels

SOFIA (Reuters) – Weeks of anti-government protests in Bulgaria have eroded public support for the centre-right GERB government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, with opinion polls showing deepening political fragmentation amid concerns over corruption.

A new poll by Alpha Research on Monday showed GERB’s public support at 14.5%, down from 21.7% in December, while nearly 46% of Bulgarians said they were undecided or would not vote, up from 27.3% seven months earlier.

Thousands of Bulgarians have been rallying since early July, demanding the resignation of three-time premier Borissov over his failure to combat endemic graft.

He has refused to step down until regular elections next March, saying the European Union’s poorest country cannot afford political “chaos” ahead of a looming coronavirus economic crisis.

Despite the protests, GERB has held to its fragile top position among political groupings in Bulgaria, followed by opposition Socialists, who also had their support plunge to 10.4% from 18.2% last December, the poll showed.

About 60% of the Bulgarians say they support the anti-graft protests but remain divided on whether the government should resign. Some 40% say they want snap polls, while about 37% think Borissov’s government should carry out its full four-year term.

“People support the protests but are not sure what should come next. For the time being, there is no dominant political faction around which a clear majority can be consolidated,” Alpha Research analyst Boriana Dimitrova said.

Over a decade after joining the EU, Bulgaria ranks as its most corrupt member, according to Transparency International. It has yet to jail a senior government official for graft.

The recently registered populist and anti-elite party of Slavi Trifonov, a talk show host and singer, has seen its support rise to 10.2%, making it the third most popular political faction.

Liberal right-wing and vocal anti-graft party Democratic Bulgaria, has also gained popularity and seen its support climb to 6.2%, the poll showed.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, edited by Justyna Pawlak and Lisa Shumaker)

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