Although slightly lower than in 2015, support for membership in NATO is still high

Almost three-quarters of the Czech public (71%) support the country’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. This figure represents a lower level of support than in the previous survey conducted in 2015. However, it is important to regard this decline as a return to the long-term stable figures recorded in previous years. Almost two thirds of citizens (64%) have confidence in NATO’s ability to safeguard the external security of our country.

This survey was conducted by the STEM non-profit institute ( on a representative sample of the Czech population aged 18 and over from 6 to 14 April 2017. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,033 people taking part in the survey.

STEM has been monitoring the attitudes of the Czech public to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation over the long term. Throughout the period of strong media coverage during the refugee crisis in Europe, we were able to monitor changes in attitudes not only towards the European Union but also towards the military institution NATO. While EU support declined among Czech citizens, NATO support strengthened.

What are the current attitudes of Czech citizens towards NATO?

The fact that an almost three-quarters majority of Czech citizens (71 %) support the country’s membership in NATO demonstrates our strong commitment to this institution. Less than a third of the population (29%) is opposed to membership in NATO.

“Do you support membership of the Czech Republic in NATO?”

Source: STEM, Trends 04/2017, 1033 respondents aged 18+

The STEM surveys conducted over the years since the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO show that membership in NATO has consistently enjoyed the support of the majority of the population, exceeding 70 % in 2001. In subsequent years, the level of approval for membership in NATO has remained relatively stable, at in and around 70 %. The only fluctuation was in 2009 when, during the Czech EU Presidency, there was an increase in pro-European sentiment among the population and this also led indirectly to a strengthening of support at the time for NATO. Increased security tensions in Europe and concerns over the influx of migrants are likely to have been reflected in the higher level of support for Czech membership in NATO in 2015. From a long-term perspective, the current survey indicates a return to average values.

“Do you support membership of the Czech Republic in NATO?”

Source: STEM, Trends 1998-2017 (those who answered “I don’t know” were excluded from the data up to and including 2002 and 2015/9)

Younger people and the better educated are more likely to support membership in NATO. Nonetheless, the majority of citizens over 60 and those with only a basic level of education still also support NATO membership, although less so than respondents in the other age groups and education categories.

A comparison of the 2012, 2015 and 2017 surveys consistently demonstrates an increase in support for NATO membership in all age and education groups in 2015 and the subsequent “return” to levels recorded in previous years. The only exception is those with third-level education. The high support for NATO membership recorded in 2015 was also recorded in 2017 among this group.


The development of differences in opinion on NATO membership by education
(proportion of positive answers in %)

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK,
High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 2012-2017

The development of differences in opinion on NATO membership by age
(proportion of positive answers in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2012-2017

Membership in NATO enjoys majority support across the political spectrum, regardless of parliamentary political party affiliation, with the obvious exception of Communist Party (KSČM) supporters, a slight majority of whom have a negative attitude towards the institution.

“Do you support membership of the Czech Republic in NATO?”
According to political party preferences

Source: STEM, Trends 04/2017, 1033 respondents aged 18+
TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; ANO is a centrist movement and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).
Given their low representation in the group, figures for KDU-ČSL, TOP 09 and ODS supporters are only approximate.

In the context of Czech attitudes towards NATO, for the past ten years the STEM institute has also been monitoring whether the public has confidence in NATO’s ability to safeguard the external security of this country. At present an almost two-thirds majority of the population (64 %) trusts NATO. In terms of the long-term series of surveys, the year 2015 marked a change in public attitudes towards NATO, with a significant weakening of public confidence in NATO and its ability to defend the country in comparison to previous surveys. The atmosphere in society as a result of the refugee crisis also affected public attitudes.

“Do you trust NATO’s ability to safeguard our country’s external security?”

Source: STEM, Trends 2007-2017

If we combine current public attitudes towards NATO membership and confidence in its ability to safeguard the country’s security, we find that the proportion of those who support NATO membership and have confidence in the institution is double the proportion of those who are of the opposite opinion (43% vs. 19 %). However, the group of those who support membership in NATO but do not believe that this organisation will safeguard our security in the case of threats is also significant (27%).