Popular perceptions for high levels of corruption in the country include both “everyday” low-level corruption and grand political corruption which affects key institutions. The latter is easily assessed through some well-known cases in the last years. These cases, emblematic for political corruption and favoritism, as well as for inefficient use of public resources are: the bankruptcy of the Corporate Commercial Bank (CCB), the building of the Belene Nuclear Power Plant and the construction of the South Stream Gas-pipeline. Among these cases, the CCB case unequivocally receives highest attention as a corruption scandal in which public institutions were involved during all different stages – almost 70% of the respondents invoke CCB case as an example of grand corruption. Cases with Belene NPP and South Stream are indicated as corruption cases by half of the respondents.
The survey shows that the Bulgarian society does not consider that public institutions address effectively these corruption cases and that serious investigations will be initiated. Less than 5% of the respondents agree that the institutions use all proper means for investigating the cases and punishing the guilty ones. Almost 50% state that the responsible institutions do not effectively investigate the cases and will persecute the convicted individuals. More than 80% of the respondents believe or assume that corruption cases like CCB may occur in the future. This, in turn, indicates the very low level of public trust (approx. 20%) in all institutions involved in monitoring, prevention and investigation of the CCB case.
Beyond the specific case, there are deep and lasting credibility problems regarding the independence, efficiency and performance of public institutions expected to counteract and investigate corruption cases. Moreover, there is a prevailing perception that political elites are heavily corrupted and do not have reasons and incentives to disclose their hidden connections and exposure to different corruption behavior. All these stereotypes produce rather passive and pessimistic attitude with respect to civic involvement and reformist policies directed against corruption.
Around 20% of the respondents recognize and accept the role of civic engagement for successful fight against corruption. The majority among this group are supporters of political parties which oppose the status quo and make the fight against corruption their core objective.