Report Launch: Bulgarian Public Opinion, 2024

The Institute for Global Analytics held a launch event for its most recent report Bulgarian Public Opinion, 2024: Increasing Commitment to Allies and Improving Perceptions of Media Freedom amid Continuous East-West Ambivalence, conducted as part of IGA’s cooperation with GLOBSEC. The discussion took place on May 13 at Launchee, Sofia. 

Dr. Rumena Filipova of IGA presented the main patterns identified in public opinion results in Bulgaria in 2024, which include both persistent continuities (such as the contradiction between pro-European and pro-Russian attitudes) and noticeable shifts (increased support for NATO and the US as a crucial strategic partner for Bulgaria, improved perceptions of media freedom). The Institute’s chairperson pointed out key explanatory factors for those trends and further situated the results in the wider CEE context, whereby Bulgaria still occupies a position as an outlier. That is, the country displays the lowest perception of threat from Russia and China and least satisfaction with how democracy works, among other tendencies. 

Jason Steinhauer, public historian, bestselling author and founder of the History Communication Institute, discussed the findings, stressing the cross-country patterns in the dispositions of youth, who are increasingly turning to far-right nationalist parties. He also directed attention to the contradictions that people very often harbor in terms of both views and behavior as well as the difficulty of making citizens consider important geopolitical events as they are often fixated on everyday concerns. Lack of awareness, reflected in the prominence of “don’t know” responses, speaks to the importance of continuing to educate the public about democracy and politics in general.

The discussion that ensued focused on situating Bulgaria and CEE within global developments and in particular the response of Taiwan to China’s authoritarian pressure. It was noted that Beijing – like Moscow, employs local proxies to affect public opinion in a pro-Chinese direction. Yet, the effectiveness of media literacy activities and strategic communications can stave off the negative repercussions of foreign interferences and change public attitudes impacted by propaganda. The participants converged on the idea that comparative lesson-learning and exchange has to take place between Central and Eastern Europe and the established democracies of the Indo-Pacific in order to craft solutions to authoritarian-state influence, which attempts to undermine democratic institutions and the rules-based international order.