IRI Bulgaria Polls Show Concerns Over Corruption, Lack of Enthusiasm in Local Governance, Diversity of Views Across Municipalities

Sofia, Bulgaria – A set of polls conducted by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) in 10 municipalities throughout Bulgaria found widespread concerns over corruption, a lack of enthusiasm for participation in local governance, and a diversity of views on issues across the municipalities that were surveyed.  

When asked about corruption, 50% or more said it was a very serious or somewhat serious problem in every municipality. Over 75% said it was a very serious or somewhat serious problem in five of the 10 municipalities. Despite widespread agreement on the pervasiveness of municipal corruption, many people in Bulgaria do not believe that this issue is being adequately addressed. Fewer than 25% of respondents believe that local efforts to combat corruption are effective in seven of the 10 municipalities.  

“Our data clearly indicates that corruption is a big problem for people all across Bulgaria,” said Paul McCarthy, IRI’s Europe Director. “Local officials need to do more to address this pressing issue if they want to have a positive impact in fighting corruption.” 

The polls also show that Bulgarians have little interest in local governance. Less than 20% of respondents in all municipalities knew when municipal government public consultation meetings took place and less than 20% in nine of 10 municipalities knew when their municipal council meetings were held.  

“For democracies to succeed, participation needs to be strong at all levels,” said McCarthy. “Getting more involved at the local level would allow the people of Bulgaria to hold local elected officials accountable and strengthen government transparency in each municipality.” 

Additionally, the surveys reveal a wide range of perceptions on key common questions posed to all municipalities. The percentage of respondents who said corruption was a very or somewhat serious problem ranged from 50% to 100%. And the percentage of respondents who said their mayor and municipal administration were very or somewhat transparent ranged from 10% to 53%. These ranges of 50 and 43 percentage points are indicative of high inter-municipal variation observed throughout IRI’s polling. 

Click here for the full poll results.

IRI conducted these public opinion polls as a part of its municipal anticorruption 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 anticorruption 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 February 15 – February 28, 2022. The data was collected through CAPI administered face-to-face interviews. The sample consisted of n=2,200 adults, aged 18 and older, distributed as n=400 in Sofia and n=200 each in the other 9 municipalities.  The achieved sample was weighted for gender and type of settlement for each municipality. The margin of error for the mid-range full sample does not exceed ±6.9 points for each municipality except Sofia where the margin of error does not exceed ±4.9 points at the 95% confidence level. The overall response rate was 57 percent.  

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