New Faces Rather than New Parties Needed in Politics, Respondents Say in Survey

New Faces Rather than New Parties Needed in Politics, Respondents Say in Survey

Sofia, October 13 (BTA) - People are disappointed with the way
representative democracy functions in this country rather than
with the democratic system. This is evident from the results of
a survey conducted in May-June 2014 among 1,302 respondents
within the first stage of a Citizens' Debate for Change Project,
implemented by the Balkan Assist Association.

The results of the survey were made public at a BTA-hosted news
conference on Monday. The predominant part of respondents are
young people under 30, people in active employment, low-income
private-sector employees, urban dwellers and secondary-school
and university graduates.

Disappointed as they are with representative democracy, those
polled do not deny it wholesale but demand changes in the
election system (65 per cent of respondents) and above all
insist on the appearance of new faces in politics (71 per cent)
rather than of new parties.

On a massive scale, those interviewed want to be able to recall
municipal councillors and members of Parliament for whom they
have voted if they are dissatisfied with their performance. Some
60 per cent back electronic voting, but a relatively large
proportion of 'don't know' answers were given to this question.

Some 60 per cent support compulsory voting, and within them 35
per cent firmly advocate it. Preferential voting is approved by
some 70 per cent (for municipal councillors), 65 per cent (for
MPs), and 60 per cent (for MEPs). About one in five respondents
are not clear what preferential voting means, said Dr Petya
Kabakchieva, who presented the survey.

What people want is more democracy, a more active involvement of
citizens in governance processes. Extreme forms of political
governance like dictatorship or a single-party system do not
meet with broad support, and support for governance by a strong
leader without parliament has decreased as well.

Most of those polled want more powers and rights for citizens to
share in governance: to be entitled to propose bills, to elect
the representatives of civil society and the members of public
councils. The prevalent opinion favours a stronger citizen
control over power-holders' decisions and actions: some 80 per
cent insist on that. A little over 60 per cent back the idea of
citizens making the important decisions directly.

As regards personal involvement in the decision-making process
and control over Parliament and municipal councils, the
enthusiasm tangibly wanes: just 23.6 per cent of respondents
actually want to enter this process and participate in the work
of some National Assembly committees, compared to 80 per cent
who insisted on this participation, Kabakchieva commented. She
described this effect as "Facebook behaviour": you declare a
desire to participate in some event, but those who do so in
practice are several fold fewer.

The survey invites the conclusion that most respondents,
especially the young and the educated ones, start developing a
political participatory culture. At the same time, however,
awareness of the essential democratic procedures and mechanisms
is at a low level, and voting is above all for personalities and
not for policies and programmes. That is why, civic education
must be enhanced, the experts recommend.

Source: Sofia