OSI poll: Most Bulgarians support Western Balkans countries, but not Turkey, joining EU

OSI poll: Most Bulgarians support Western Balkans countries, but not Turkey, joining EU

Most Bulgarian citizens would support the accession of the Western Balkans to the EU, but not that of Turkey, if a referendum were held on the issue in spring 2018, according to a survey by the Open Society Institute - Sofia.

According to the survey, done in April 2018, among the Western Balkan countries fYROMacedonia would receive the strongest support as it gathers the approval of nearly 83 per cent of respondents who have an opinion on the issue, followed by Serbia with support of nearly 82 per cent and Montenegro, 76 per cent support.

The membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be supported by more than 73 per cent of Bulgarians polled, of Kosovo, nearly 55 per cent and of Albania, 52.4 per cent.

Support for Turkey's candidacy was expressed by just more than 38 per cent of those Bulgarians polled with an opinion on the issue.

Turkey's membership bid would receive the strongest opposition with about 62 per cent share of "against" four of those who of respondents who has an opinion, followed by Albania with nearly 48 per cent and Kosovo with over 45 per cent.

Slightly over one quarter of those who expressed an opinion, 26.7 per cent, would be against the accession of BiH to the EU and 24.2 per cent would be against the membership of Montenegro.

Serbia's membership would receive disapproval of 18 per cent and that of fYROMacedonia of 17.4 per cent of those polled.

The survey included questions for all candidate and potential candidate countries – the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. The question was formulated as "How would you vote if a referendum were held today on the entry of the following countries as fully-fledged members of the EU?"

When all possible answers are taken into consideration in regard to possible EU membership of the Western Balkans and Turkey, the candidacy of fYROMacedonia receives the highest support with nearly 49 per cent of all respondents with just 10 per cent disapproval, and Serbia has the support of about 47 per cent of those who took part in the survey with about 10 per cent disapproval.

The question of the membership of Montenegro in the EU receives the approval of close to 40 per cent with 13 per cent disapproval, of BiH – 37 per cent support and about 14 per cent disapproval, Albania – 25.5 per cent "for" and 23 per cent "against", Kosovo – 27.3 per cent "for" and 22.7 per cent "against".

The question about Turkey’s candidacy receives 21.5 per cent answers "for" and 34.5 per cent answers "against" and it is the only case with higher disapproval than approval.

When all possible answers are considered, between 41 per cent and 51 per cent of respondents did not have an opinion or did not answer at all. The highest level of uncertainty is registered in the cases of Albania, BiH and Kosovo – about 50 per cent and the lowest level – in the case of fYROMacedonia with 41 per cent of respondents, who did not have an opinion or did not answer.

In regard to political preferences, the highest support for the membership of fYROMacedonia and Serbia is registered among the voters of the smaller parties (i.e. those beside GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms) – respectively 62 per cent for fYROMacedonia and close to 67 per cent for Serbia, followed by the GERB supporters – respectively 60 per cent and 56 per cent, and MRF supporters – respectively 48 per cent and 50 per cent.

The comparatively lowest support is registered among BSP supporters – 43 per cent for fYROMacedonia and 39 per cent for Serbia. BSP supporters are not against the membership of Bulgaria's neighbours, but have the highest share of people with no opinion on the issue – 45 per cent and 47 per cent respectively said they don't know.

Turkey's membership bid receives the highest support among MRF voters – 50 per cent of them say they are "for" it – but there is also a high level of uncertainty among them – over one third of MRF supporters do not have opinion on the question of Turkey's accession to the EU.

There is a considerable split within GERB supporters in regard to Turkey as close to one quarter would vote in favour of Turkey's membership bid, but 40 per cent would reject it. There is hesitation among BSP supporters too in regard to Turkey as nearly half of them had no opinion, one third would reject it and only 14 per cent would support it.

Among the supporters of small parties, only 16 per cent would vote for Turkey's membership bid and over 57 per cent would reject it.

There are no substantial differences in regard to the demographic characteristics of respondents with just a few exceptions.

For example, in regard to the questions of membership of fYROMacedonia and Serbia, the biggest support is registered among people between 45-59 years old with respectively over 56 per cent and 55 per cent, followed by those between 18-29 years old with respectively 48 per cent and 50 per cent and this group has the highest level of rejection of Turkey’s membership bid – over 43 per cent (with 34.5 per cent for the country).

The group of people over 60 years old has the highest level of uncertainty in regard to Serbia and Turkey – over 45 per cent, and in regard to fYROMacedonia – over 42 per cent.

... / IBNA

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