STUDY: Czech Seeders of Disinformation

In the spring of 2020, the STEM institute, supported by the Prague office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, carried out an extensive investigation of Czech seeders of disinformation. They are currently estimated to make up approximately 5 % of the Czech society. Through the combination of a quantitative survey and 13 qualitative in-depth interviews, the seeder group was found to be more affluent, educated and interested in politics than media stereotypes would suggest. Furthermore, seeders’ motivations and media literacy levels vary greatly, wherefore one-size-fits-all solutions could be rather counterproductive. For example, some groups of seeders would benefit from basic media literacy initiatives, while others are immune to any official communication or even warnings.

Six types of seeders in the Czech Republic

Full article:  http://4liberty.eu/czech-seeders-of-disinformation-addressing-knowledge-gaps-and-drawing-policy-implications/


Czechs loosing attraction to Western democracies, but not keen on Russia nor China

Since 1994 STEM has been surveying the Czech population about their attitudes toward foreign countries and its leaders. The latest data show, that the most popular among Czechs remain Slovakia and Austria. More than half of the respondents have positive view on Central, South and Nordic countries. The attitude towards Western countries such as France, Germany, USA and Great Britain has worsened in recent surveys. However they are still more popular than Russia, China or Turkey. For more details, please refer to the Czech section of our website.


Unique study probes deep emotions about EU “brand”

Unique study probes deep emotions about EU “brand”

STEM, BehavioLabs and Europeum have teamed up with experts in marketing, political psychology and strategic communication to conduct a in-depth research on underlying emotions and frames that lead to anti-EU sentiments in the Czech republic, but are in many aspects similar in V4 countries, Austria or for example France.
Moreover we used experiments and advertising pre-tests to measure what communication can influence the EU “brand”. Based on the reaction by foreign diplomats, we think this kind of research approach can be useful for other countries as well.  For more please contact horejs (at) stem.cz


There has been a gradual decline in the proportion of people who believe that tensions are high between the rich and the poor

A two-thirds majority of citizens (66 %) believe that tensions between Czechs and foreigners are very or relatively high. This proportion is the same as last year. A three-fifths majority of citizens perceive tensions between company management and employees (59%). A slightly lower percentage of people (57%) believe that tensions are high between the rich and the poor. Since 2011, when STEM began to monitor this area, the proportion of those who perceive tensions between the rich and the poor to be high has been gradually declining. However, this proportion is still high among those living in worse-off households. Slightly over half the population (56 %) perceives strong tensions among people of different political views. People less frequently perceive tensions between young and elderly people (39 %) and, even less so, between city and rural dwellers (29 %).

This survey was conducted by the STEM non-profit institute (www.stem.cz) on a representative sample of the Czech population aged 18 and over from 27 February to 6 March 2017. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,042 people taking part in the survey.

The existence of conflicts and tensions between social groups is inherent in society and is a prerequisite for its development. In certain periods and situations such tensions can escalate and lead to conflict. When such a situation arises, the catalyst can be economic or political change in society, but it can also be some development on a wider, European scale. Therefore, in the March 2016 survey, it was evident to us that Czech citizens were more sensitive than before to tensions between Czechs and foreigners in this country. The present survey reaffirms these findings.

Source: STEM, Trends 3/2017, 1042 respondents aged 18+

In March 2016, 67% of citizens considered tensions between Czechs and foreigners in this country to be high; a year later the figure still stood at 66%. Therefore, there has been no shift in perception and in terms of attitudes and the Czech public continues to have some concerns as a result of the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks in European cities.

An approximately three-fifths majority of citizens also perceive tensions in the socio-economic and socio- professional spheres – on one hand, among company management and employees (59 %), on the other, between rich and poor (57 %). Nonetheless, while the findings in relation to tensions between management and staff have remained relatively stable in STEM surveys (with the exception of 2011), there has been a gradual decline in the proportion of people who perceive strong tensions between the rich and the poor.

Slightly over half the population perceives strong conflicts between people of different political opinions (56 %). Citizens believe somewhat less frequently that there are strong conflicts between the young and old (39 %) and – of the options given – they least frequently perceive conflict between city and rural dwellers (29 %).

Source: STEM, Trends 5/2011, 4/2012, 4/2013, 3/2016, 3/2017
Note: The 2011 survey did not include the public’s views on conflict between Czechs and foreigners.

Let us take a closer look at the findings as they relate to tensions between the rich and the poor. As noted above, we have seen a decrease in the proportion of those who consider these tensions to be high. The more negative respondents’ subjective assessment of their own household financial situation, the more likely they were to perceive conflicts between rich and poor. A clear majority of those who perceive tensions between rich and poor to be high are people who consider their households to be badly-off or poor. The situation is ambiguous among those on average incomes and among the better off, with about half of them admitting to tensions. Some of this group, however, does not consider these tensions to be significant.

Source: STEM, Trends 3/2017, 1042 respondents aged 18+

The development of attitudes in relation to this issue is interesting. A decline in the perception of tensions can be observed primarily in the case of better-off respondents. The proportion of those who consider there to be tensions between the rich and the poor remains high among those who assess their own situation to be bad.

Source: STEM, Trends 2011-2017

If we take the block of questions dealing with tensions between different groups as a whole, it is possible to create a single variable – an index that will reflect overall public attitudes towards this issue. The higher the index, the greater the proportion of people who describe tensions between the different groups to be very or fairly strong.

An overview of the development of the index shows a decline in the perception of tensions in society from 2011 to 2013. In 2016 and 2017, the index increased again, primarily due to greater sensitivity among citizens to tensions between Czechs and foreigners.

Source: STEM, Trends 2011-2017

Differences in index values ​​in different socio-demographic groups primarily indicate a difference in attitudes amongst university graduates. This group’s index value is significantly lower (4.6) than for other groups. The same is true for young people under the age of 30 who also deviate in their perception from those in other age groups (with an index value of 4.9). Nonetheless, we found even greater differences in relation to respondents’ subjective perception of their household financial security. Those who consider their households to be worse-off perceive tensions in society to be more serious (5.9). Similarly, the tension index presents a profile of citizens based on how they categorise themselves into the various social strata: people who fall into lower middle or lower strata of society are more sensitive in terms of their perception of tensions between the groups (5.6).

In conclusion, another interesting finding is that people who follow the news and current affairs primarily on television more often consider tensions in society to be high (5.4) as against people who get their information mainly from the radio or print media (4.8) or those who read the news on the internet or Facebook (4.8).

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate,
equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US

Source: STEM, Trends 2017/3

Source: STEM, Trends 2017/3


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 (www.stem.cz) 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%).