Mirchev, Mihail

Electoral Research and Predictions in Bulgaria:
Contextual and Methodological Challenges

Paper prepared for the 1st European Conference for Comparative Electoral Research, 1-3 December, UNWE, Sofia


     electoral research and predictions, contextual and methodological challenges, research background, research agencies, types of research, microdata and macrodata indicators, supply side, party trends, party positioning, electoral gaps, transition decades, left-right democracy, populist prevalence and domination, early warning, brutal antidemocratization, flash-party, elections 2011, media context, controlled vote, organized chaos, double effect of manipulation, the convenient third, party partisans, eroded electoral core, close and distant periphery


     The analysis is focused on the political situation and the research monitoring in Bulgaria. The accent is put both on microdata and the methodological challenges to really precise electoral predictons as well on macrodata and the methodology of expert assessment of structural and contextual impact.
     The analysis is build on the research experience, used variables and thesaurus and the database of ASSA-M and some of the other well-known research agencies in Bulgaria. It starts with the history of sociology in Bulgaria, the research background of electoral studies and monitoring, as well as the research profile of my agency ASSA-М (www.assa-m.com). A detailed analysis of both presidental and local elections, conducted a month ago, is also presented. It is the base on which five electoral phenomena, which pose significant methodological challenges, are outlined.
     Firstly, the main political parties trends and their transformation from classic left-right division to populist domination, up to brutal forms of one-leader-centured and one-party domination are presented and analyzed – particularly, the classic left and right since the 90’s and their current state of art, typical flash party since 2001 and the domination of populist-right-party since 2009.
     Secondly, three political Transition Decades are distinguished. The First TD (1990-2000) – development of real democracy of civil rights and pluralism of western type: left-right political democracy, two main parties in a two poles system, as well as an abundance of small parties in the center, in the left and in the right; The Second TD (2001-2010) – transition to populist-party domination, the first was flash-party and the second is one-leader-centered-party; The Third TD (2010-2020?) – transition to one-party-domination with activity toward a new dictatorship regime. It is outlined that the negative political transformation in Bulgaria should be taken as an Early Warning of a common risky process in the EU as a whole.
     Thirdly, a detailed description and analysis of the used system of devices of “controlled vote” as an extraordinarily dangerous antidemocratic practice is also provided. The phenomena of controlled vote is a significant methodological challenge for the precise predictions of the electoral results. The “double effect” technique and the technique of the “the convenient third” are presented.
     Fourthly, the increasing instability of the electoral groups is the next methodological challenge. We are facing the question: how to upgrade the indicators and filters? This instability has two sides: the destabilization and disentangling of the old political parties’ cores and the “floating” peripheries, which become simultaneously more and more massive and divided in two separate parts: close and distant.
     Fifthly, another form of the increasing instability is the spread of the electoral groups which make their final decision who to vote for in the last days before the elections. The main reasons for that are the spread of the entropy of ideological party identity and the accumulation of frustration from the policy making of all big ruling parties.

  Electoral Research and Predictions in Bulgaria
  Electoral RESEARCH BACKGROUND in Bulgaria
  HISTORY OF SOCIOLOGY in Bulgaria Research background (1)
  HISTORY OF SOCIOLOGY in Bulgaria Research background (2)
  HISTORY OF SOCIOLOGY in Bulgaria Research background (3)
  BIOGRAPHY of electoral research and predictions in democratic                            Bulgaria 1989-2011
  Biography of democratic Elections in Bulgaria 1989-2011 (three                            decades)
  Conduction of National Election Studies (NES) in Bulgaria
  ACTIVITY of the Bulgarian AGENCIES
  Methodological specification
  Challenges of methodological preciseness of research and                            predictions: questions and answers
  Structural and CONTEXTUAL Challenges
  PARTY POSITION within three Transition Decades (TD)
  The main PARTIES in Bulgaria Who is who? (1)
  The main PARTIES in Bulgaria Who is who? (2)
  The main PARTIES in Bulgaria Who is who? (3)
  Positions of the main political parties
  Party position – the supply side
  Three decades (1990-2000-2010-2020) of system transition in                            Bulgaria, in parallel with Globalization in Europe
  The supply side in 90’s
  The supply side in Second TD ‘2001-2009
  The supply side in Third TD ‘2009-2011-…?
  The electoral trends of the main parties
  Trend of the two main “democratic” parties
  Trend of the two main “populist” parties
  Elections ‘2011
  ELECTIONS ‘2011: character and context
  Who won and who grasped the elections?
  Elections ‘2011: GENERAL RESULT (1)
  Elections ‘2011: GENERAL RESULT (2)
  Elections ‘2011: GENERAL RESULT (3)
  How CEDB won Elections ‘2011?
  How BSP lost the Elections ‘2011?
  Media context
  IMPLIED AND ACTUAL electoral result
  PROMPTED AND ACTUAL electoral result (2)
  Tools and METHODOLOGICAL Challenges
  “CONTROLLED vote” ‘2011
  “Controlled vote”: Beginning and biography (1)
  “Controlled vote”: Beginning and biography (2)
  Upsurges in GENERAL elections
  “Controlled vote”: Beginning and biography (3)
  “Controlled vote”: Beginning and biography (4)
  Upsurges and falls in GENERAL elections
  Trend of NMSS – the artificial increase in 2005 and the complete                            decline up to 2013
  “CONTROLLED vote”: The Phenomenon of the Elections ‘2011
  “Controlled vote”: an entire system with extremely high effect (1)
  “Controlled vote”: an entire system with extremely high effect (2)
  Example of “organized chaos”
  PARADOX of the state counting of the population and the potential                            voters
  The “convenient third” and the “double effect” for vote manipulations
  Prediction based on electoral research
  Practical result of the election
  Methodological challenges
  The “convenient third” at the Presidential Election ‘2011
  The municipality of Yambol
  PARTY rating: voting for party members of local parliament Yambol,                            23 October 2011
  MAYOR ratings: The vote for the next Mayor of Yambol, 23 and 30                            October 2011 (first and second round)
  Monitoring and Analyses of Elections ‘2011
  Methodological challenges
  We are examining the pre-electoral attitudes and are making our                            predictions on that base under the conditions of more and more                            “floating” political party structure and inexplicit party positioning!!!
  Methodological examination of the predictions
  Methodological challenges
  ASSA-M block of variables
  Local Elections
  Local Elections
  Local Elections
  In summary
  Thank you for your attention!

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ИЗБОРИ '2011