In 2015, the vast majority of Bulgarians – 64,4% – continue to assess positively the EU membership of their country. About a fifth of respondents – 21,8% – assess the experience as negative. The trends have remained unchanged over the last three years with a very slight improvement in 2015 over 2014. But the situation is much better in comparisson to the attitudes in 2008 – one year after the 2007 accession, when approval and disapproval has less than 3% differently. Apparently, over the years the citizens of Bulgaria have come to recognize the benefits of EU membership.
The supporters of the center-right parties of the Reformist Bloc (RB) and GERB (Citizens for the European Development of Bulgaria) remain the most appreciative of membership with virtually all Reformist Bloc supporters – 93%, followed by GERB supporters with 82%. They also have least negative opinions about membership. There is no surprise here as the center-right voters in Bulgaria have consistently been more pro-European.
The data for nationalist parties somewhat defies conventional logic as their voters have quite a positive assessment of EU membership. This is valid as for the supporters of the Patriotic Front (PF) coalition made up by VMRO and the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, which features 67% – or above the average of 64% – approval rate as well as for the opposition Ataka party supporters with approval rate of membership at 64%. Part of the explanation for the first three parties (RB, GERB, PF) may lie in the fact that they are the currently governing parties. But this does not explain the high approval among Ataka voters whose leadership has lately been condemning the EU and the West in general. It should be noted that there seems to be internal rift among Ataka supporters as it features the second highest negative share – 33% – about EU membership.
The three least positive groups about EU membership are the supporters of the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), a Turkish-minority party, with 56%, the non-voters with 54% and the supporters of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) with 52%. The supporters of the socialists are also the most negative about EU membership with 36% compared to the 22% of the total.
The full text of the report Assessing EU Membership Experience, Benefits and Futher Integration:Public Opinion in Bulgaria 2015