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Bulgarian Values

What do Bulgarians really think and hold good? A recent European research project known as The European Values Study, looked into the everyday lives of 46 European nations in particular work and leisure, family and sexuality, religion, politics and beliefs and values. The survey is conducted approximately every nine years by the European Value Systems Study Group (EVSSG). The Bulgarian arm of the research was conducted by a group of researchers working for the Bulgarian Sociological Association at the Sofia St. Kliment of Ochrida University.


Euro Fans

Results from the survey showed that Bulgarians are very much pro Europe. National confidence in the powers of the European Union to get things done have been increasing over the last two years. This stems from a despondency about their own government’s ability and the fact that the EU has proved that it can and will improve Bulgaria; the numerous signs dotted around the country explaining about EU –funded works in progress are testimony to this as is the way that the EU clamped down on some of the country’s senior ministers who had fraudulently handled EU money. Bulgarians are in favour of further enlargement of the EU and believe that they will benefit from its membership in the long run.

Smiley Happy People

Another fact that the survey highlighted was that most Bulgarians described themselves as happy with themselves and life generally despite the fact that money is scarce and life from the outside seems to lack many comforts that Westerners would deem necessities; 44% of all respondents defined themselves as being happy and over 15% described themselves as very happy. What is more, this is almost double the amount that said they were happy with life in the last survey, which took place nine years ago.





Work Ethics

A growing number of respondents saw competition within the workplace as constructive social and economic dynamics. Some even went as far as saying that salary packages should encourage high performance through profit related pay and bonus schemes. At the moment salaries in Bulgaria are based on the old Communist ideology of equality in the workplace rather than performance and thus people doing the same work earn the same salary regardless of the fact that one may be more productive than another.
However, Bulgarians have become more competitive in the workplace and now see their jobs as huge opportunities for personal development and career advancement. They also believe that work, whatever the nature should be interesting. Unsurprisingly, every one of the people interviewed in Bulgaria put the greatest emphasis on high salaries being important when choosing a job. The survey also revealed that the general publics intolerance to unemployment and laziness is growing. The general belief was that this factor would jeopardise the economy and country generally.

Family Life

More than 98% of those Bulgarians interviewed placed the highest value on family life and the role of the family in society. Yet, whilst an increasing number of younger Bulgarians are more open to the idea of divorce and cohabitation as opposed to marriage, this did not change their beliefs in the role of the family in bringing up children.  Bulgarian mothers placed the greatest emphasis on their children being brought up unselfish with imagination and faith in religion.

Tolerance and Trust

There is greater tolerance towards immigrants today than there was ten years ago. This is largely down to the increased number of foreigners who have made Bulgaria their permanent home and have proved that they pose no threat to public or cultural life here. Prof. Pepka Boyadjieva who conducted the survey here was alarmed however by the lack of trust all Bulgarians appear to have, he explains, "A total of 40% of the respondents believe that most people would not hesitate to defraud them. The credibility of government departments and institutions, never overly high, has slumped in the last ten years. The signs are that it will continue to diminish and this could jeopardise the normal functioning of the Bulgarian society". 54% of respondents placed no trust at all in political parties – this figure was a mere 26% in 1999. Over 51% did not trust the Bulgarian parliament and more than 47% did not trust the current government. Nearly a quarter of those interviewed did not trust the police another figure that has almost doubled since the last study. Even the education system comes under fire with 16% having no trust in the system compared to only 6.9% of people interviewed in the last survey. Besides the EU, the Bulgarians trusted the Orthodox Church and were extremely patriotic, taking pride in being Bulgarian.