Bulgarian social media users dislike both presidential candidates

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and the government’s resignation were the second most-discussed topic after the presidential elections

18 November 2016 – 87% of social media users in Bulgaria dislike GERB’s presidential candidate Tsetska Tsacheva, while 50% hold a negative opinion of the president-elect Gen. Rumen Radev, according to a new study by Perceptica.

The study comprises over 40,000 online mentions between 13-17 November 2016. Over two-thirds (68%) of the relevant mentions came from mainstream sources, while the other 32% were generated by social networks (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums and user comments).

The Bulgarian presidential election was the leading topic in terms of volume with over 25,000 mentions, followed by the government’s announced resignation (over 10,000 comments) and the National referendum (over 4,500 mentions). A new proposal by BSP to reinstate progressive taxation came into focus towards the end of the analysed period, getting 5% of the overall conversation.

Tsetska Tsacheva was the most disliked presidential candidate

Tsetska Tsacheva was the most disliked presidential candidate on social networks (87% negative comments). Only 2% of her overall mentions were positive, with 11% expressing no opinion. The Chair of the Bulgarian National Assembly was often described as an unelectable candidate, with the largest part of commenters considering Rumen Radev’s election a direct consequence of the protest vote against GERB.

Despite his convincing electoral victory, only 22% of all social media users expressed a positive view of Radev. His supporters found him to be a strong candidate with a clean record and good personal qualities. However, he also received criticism in a large portion of the comments (50%), which spoke of his connection to BSP and “hidden dealings” concerning arms lobbies and foreign interests. The 28% of commenters who remained neutral mainly expressed hope that he would be able to “disentangle” himself from BSP, maintain independence and be a better president than Rosen Plevneliev.

The sitting president got a surprisingly high 17% of the overall conversation vs. 28% for Tsacheva and 55% for Radev. Plevneliev received 42% positive comments from social media users, who found him to be a better choice than either Radev or Tsacheva.

The government’s resignation was the second most-discussed issue

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov received almost as many comments as the president-elect Rumen Radev (11,500 vs. 12,000, respectively). 44% of users disapproved of the government’s resignation after Tsacheva’s defeat, with only 12% welcoming the change.

Borisov received only 3% approval on social networks, with 85% negative and 12% neutral comments. Users sharply criticised his media scare tactics in the days before the election and saw the resignation as a move to capture full power once majority vote is passed. The PM was also criticised for nominating an unelectable candidate. 8% of the comments described the resignation as irresponsible considering the political situation and said that Borisov should have resigned as chair of the ruling party GERB instead.

TV star Slavi Trifonov’s National Referendum which included a question on majority voting also received mostly negative comments (45%). Only 20% of social media users approved of it, with 35% not taking a position.

BSP’s initiative to put progressive taxation back on the agenda was criticised in 54% of the relevant social media posts. The main objections were that it would destroy the budding middle class in the country, discourage foreign investment and drive business back into the grey economy. The proposal was often called a “suicidal move” by the party’s leader Kornelia Ninova. 24% of social media users approved of the change, saying that it is true to left-wing politics and restores justice, pointing to other countries with apply progressive taxation.