Key conclusions of a national representative survey of public opinion on topic: “Society’s attitudes of countering corruption in 2018”

The forms of corruption that represent the most significant problem for Bulgarian citizens are: political corruption, misapply of public funds and corruption in judiciary system.

In the context of the problem of political corruption the most important are: political and family appointments in the administration, trade with influence and conflict of interests in ministers and national agencies

According to 57.6% of respondents the most important problem of political corruption are: political and family appointments in the administration, trade with influence and conflict of interests in ministers and national agencies. According to 56.7% is the illegal financing of parties and election campaigns and vote buying.

According to 56.9% of respondents the problem of misapply of public funds has been assessed as an extremely form of corruption, both at central and local level – in ministries, agencies and municipalities.

Next, but no less important, trade in the judiciary and refusal to effectively investigate high-level corruption are highlighted (according to 53% of respondents).

Institutions should focus on the investigation of a high-level corruption. Citizens want clear actions from politicians, more effective investigations and punishments of corrupt politicians.

According to Bulgarians the main priority in the fight against corruption should be the investigation of high-level corruption focusing on: investigation of corruption at the highest political level in the country (71.2%), an investigation of corruption in local level (63.7%) and an investigation of corruption among the employees in the central administration (58.5%).

The study shows that people do not find the emphasis on training (15.9%), seminars and conferences sufficiently effective and adequate; special measures, such as additional wiretapping and implementation of undercover agents (15.2%), legislation analyzes (16.3%) and employee integrity tests (11.2%).

Forms of counteraction of corruption of the common citizen: dominant share of passive and pessimistic attitudes about personal opportunities for fighting against corruption but also potential for opposing the problem. \

The survey shows that dominating attitudes of citizens shows that vary in a range of passive resistance, 36.2 % answer that would not pay a bribe and 8.2 % would boycott a corrupt business to the sense of helplessness of the ordinary people.

The data also give rise to an optimistic view of citizens’ readiness to fight against corruption: 24.9% of respondents are willing to report, 17.6% would refuse to vote for corrupt politicians (17.6%).

As a relatively effective forms of civil resistance against corruption it is also included participation in protests (11.7%) and participation in petitions (8.4%) and boycott of corrpt business (8.2%).

Low level of confidence of the citizens into institutions pursuing corruption

On the question: To what institution would you report if you are a witness or have a specific information about corrupt action? Citizen’s answers show us the following results: a serious problem in the confidence of the people in the institutions that have key role in the fight against corruption, a very critical assessment of the institutions fighting against corruption efforts in the past and a concern share of people who would not report a signal to the institutions.

24.5% from the people choose the strategy to ensure more publicity of the data for corruption as a more effective tool for exerting public pressure over the institutions to fulfill their powers and to investigate cases of corruption. On this reason, the largest percentage of citizens would report to the media – 24.5%.

Тhe survey shows that the potential of public support for the newly created anti-corruption agency

The survey shows that the potential of public support for the newly created anti-corruption agency is a fragile: only 13.5% of citizens would report a signal to Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture. These results ​​are due to citizens’ mistrust on the basis of the previous failed attempt to fight corruption by specialized institutions. Another reason is the fact that the anti-corruption agency does not have enough time to establish itself as a specialized anti-corruption institution and should organize its activities for a short period of time.

The potential for public support for the activities of the new anti-corruption commission is relatively fragile but still exists.

The results of the research show that in order to do its activities efficiently, the new anti-corruption agency must be impartial in its work and to provide effective protection to whistleblowers.

To perform one of its functions

In order to be able effectively to perform one of its functions related to dealing with corruption signals and given that anti-corruption agency does not have independent investigative functions, the Commission’s efforts should also focus on building an effective system of interaction and cooperation with: (a) other institutions with powers of investigation and prosecution of corruption; (b) local authorities and concentrated units of the central administration; and (c) co-operation with institutions with powers of control and inspection ministries and agencies

Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture do not have independent investigative functions and Commission’s efforts must be directed towards effective system and cooperation with the other institutions with powers of investigation and prosecution of corruption, local authorities and cooperation with inspectorates in ministers and agencies.

Conclusions in positive direction:

Corruption is a publicly unacceptable phenomenon – only 1% of citizens feel it is normal to give something in return as a gratitude for the received administrative services.

Sustainable share of citizens (ranging from 9.4% to 12.6%), who are unconditionally ready to make a personal contribution to the fight against corruption, by reporting a signal to the institutions. Support for multiple forms of anti-corruption: not to vote for corruption free candidates and parties (17.6%), participation in protests (11.7%), boycott of corrupted business (8.2%) giving information to the media and supporting non-governmental organizations activities.

You could read more details of the research into Bulgarian here.

The survey is part of the project “Fundamentals of Democracy: Counteracting Corruption and Trust in Political Institutions. Countering Corruption – 2018: Public Expectations and Achieved Results “- an initiative of the Transparency International-Bulgaria.

The survey was carried out between June 17-25, 2018, among 1,016 citizens, by the Alpha Research Sociological Agency, on the initiative of the Transparency International-Bulgaria, with the financial support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bureau Bulgaria.

The main goals of the project is to help overcome one of the most significant problem in the country – the poor condition of the fight against corruption. The initiative is based on the understanding for overcoming the deficit where it is necessary to integrate public expectations of tackling corruption as one of leading problems that prevent the development of Bulgaria and expertise on the problem that serve as a starting point for formulating policies in the field and for more active participation of Bulgarians in political life in the country.

The project includes three main activities: to develop an analytical assessment of the expectations of the new Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture and new anti-corruption legislation,  to monitor the effect of the new legislation and activity of the Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture to formulate recommendations for future guidelines for a more effective fight against corruption.