IRI Bulgaria Polls Found Corruption as a Serious Problem, Limited Awareness of Anti-Corruption Efforts, Lack of Citizen Participation in Local Government

Sofia, Bulgaria – A set of polls conducted by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) in 5 municipalities across Bulgaria found strong concern with corruption, limited awareness of anti-corruption efforts by municipal authorities, and a lack of citizen participation in local government. The municipalities surveyed consisted of Vidin, Dobrich-City, Haskovo, Plovdiv, and Gabrovo.   

The new polling shows that at least 60% of adults in four of the five municipalities believe that corruption is a somewhat or very serious problem, with a range from 44% to 86% across all surveyed municipalities.  

“Our research shows that most Bulgarians across the surveyed municipalities simply do not believe that local leaders are working in the best interests of their citizens,” said Paul McCarthy, Director of Europe for IRI. “The negative perceptions related to corruption correlate with people believing that their communities are moving in the wrong direction.”   

Most people are not aware of anti-corruption efforts at the local level of government. The percentage of respondents aware of anti-corruption initiatives implemented by municipal authorities ranged from only 12% to 25%.   

“Clear majorities do not believe Bulgarian officials are doing enough to tackle corruption,” said McCarthy. “Local governments will need to do more in order to change that perception.”  

The poll also found that most people are not actively engaging with their municipal government. Only between 4% and 20% of adults across all surveyed municipalities know when public discussions take place.  

IRI conducted these public opinion polls as a part of its municipal anti-corruption program in Bulgaria, which addresses vulnerabilities to corruption in the selected municipalities. This public opinion research establishes perceptions of corruption and transparency that complement IRI’s Vulnerabilities to Corruption Approach (VCA) assessments conducted in the same set of municipalities. Both research products will inform IRI’s engagement with local stakeholders and drafting of anti-corruption and transparency reforms.


The set of surveys was conducted on behalf of the International Republican Institute’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by research and consulting company ESTAT Ltd. between September 21 – October 11, 2023. The data was collected through CAPI administered face-to-face interviews. The sample consisted of 1,500 adults, ages 18 and older, distributed across five municipalities in Bulgaria: Vidin (n=300), Dobrich-City (n=300), Haskovo (n=300), Plovdiv (n=300), and Gabrovo (n=300).  The achieved sample was weighted for gender, age group, and type of settlement for each municipality. The margin of error for the mid-range full sample does not exceed ±5.7 points for each municipality at the 95% confidence level. The overall response rate was 45 percent. 

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