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

https://i1.wp.com/fnf-europe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/cz-seeders1.png?resize=1024%2C496&ssl=1

Full article:
https://fnf-europe.org/2020/07/20/study-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%).


Public trust in the Czech security forces is on the increase

A three-quarters majority of the population (74 %) has confidence in the Czech army. A somewhat lower proportion of citizens, although still a majority, trust the police force (61 %). The current survey indicates that levels of trust are among the highest since the early 90s when STEM started conducting its long-term series of surveys.

The survey cited here was conducted by the STEM non-profit institute (www.stem.cz) on a representative sample of the Czech population aged 18 and over from 11 to 23 January 2017. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,048 people taking part in the survey.

Since the beginning of the nineties, STEM has been monitoring the extent to which Czech citizens have confidence in the Czech military and police force. According to the most recent survey conducted in January of this year, three-quarters of citizens trust the military and three-fifths trust the Czech police force.

Source: STEM, Trends 1/2017, 1048 respondents aged 18+

 

During the nineties trust in the Czech army remained slightly below the 50 % mark. We recorded a significant increase in trust in the military in 2002 when almost four-fifths of respondents expressed their confidence in the Czech army (the survey was conducted in September 2002 during what was an exceptional time in the immediate aftermath of the devastating floods that hit the country in August). A year later, however, trust in the army fell by 25 percentage points, returning to its pre-2002 level. Since 2005 the level of confidence in the army has remained in and around the 70% mark. The slight decline in confidence recorded in September 2015 and in January 2016 was not confirmed in the current data. Leaving aside the extreme fluctuation recorded after the floods of 2002, the current level of trust in the army represents a long-term high.

Source: STEM, Trends 1993-2017

Since the beginning of the nineties, the data from STEM surveys has revealed that after regime change in 1989, it was not easy for the Czech police force to convince citizens of its credibility (again with the exception of the specific situation after the floods in 2002). However, since 2005 we have seen a gradual steady growth in the level of confidence in the Czech police. As in the case of the military, aside from the fluctuation in 2002, the level of confidence in the police is at its highest point in the time period under scrutiny (albeit only by one percentage point compared to 2015).

Source: STEM, Trends 1993-2017

Opinions on the military and the police are interconnected, with over half the population (55%) expressing confidence in both forces. On the contrary, one fifth (20 %) of citizens trust neither the army nor the police force. However, one quarter of the public makes a distinction between the two security forces which essentially means that one-fifth (19 %) of respondents only have confidence in the military and 6 % only trust the police force.

There is an interesting correlation between confidence in the army and in the police and the way in which the public rate the two ministers who hold responsibility for the security forces. Some 71% of those who have a favourable opinion of Interior Minister Milan Chovanec trust the police, whereas only 56% of those who rate the minister negatively have confidence in the police. The same is true in the case of Defense Minister Martin Stropnický, with 84% of those who rate him positively indicating a higher level of confidence in the army, as compared to 62% of respondents who view him negatively.

Source: STEM, Trends 1/2017, 1048 respondents aged 18+

Source: STEM, Trends 1/2017, 1048 respondents aged 18+

Confidence in the security forces is also significantly determined by education. People with a secondary or university education tend more often to have confidence in the army and police (the differences are more pronounced in the case of the police). It is interesting to note that since 2015 differences in the public’s assessment of the army in terms of level of education have significantly declined. This means that confidence in the army has increased primarily among people with a lower level of education.

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 9/2015, 1/2017

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 9/2015, 1/2017


Public attitudes in the Czech Republic and Germany towards Czech-German relations

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Czech-German Declaration, the Czech-German Fund for the Future for the Future and the Czech-German Discussion Forum commissioned a comparative public opinion survey to examine how the two countries perceive each other. The survey was conducted by the STEM non-profit institute in the Czech Republic and the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach for public opinion research in Germany.

The STEM survey was conducted on a representative sample of the Czech population aged 16 and over from 30 November to 12 December 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,039 people taking part in the survey. The IfD Allensbach survey was conducted on a representative sample of the German population aged 16 and over from 1 December to 15 December 2016. Some 1,459 respondents took part in the survey.

The following press release looks at issues related to Czech-German relations.

In their assessment of relations between the Czech Republic and Germany, Germans are considerably more reserved; they do not pay as much attention as the Czechs to the issue of Czech-German relations. Two-fifths of Germans consider relations between the two countries to be good. Germans from the former East Germany and from neighbouring Bavaria and Saxony rate mutual relations more positively than those from other regions. Four-fifths of Czechs consider relations between the two countries to be good.

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016
*Czech border area = residents of the regions bordering with Germany

Interest in events and developments in the neighbouring country plays a crucial role in the public perception of mutual relations. Three-fifths of Germans who are interested in what is happening in the Czech Republic and almost 90% of Czechs who are interested in what is happening in Germany favourably rate relations between the two countries.

Besides interest in the other country, another significant factor which influences public attitudes towards mutual relations is the role of tourism and travel and personal knowledge of the inhabitants of the neighboring country. The majority of Germans, who have visited the Czech Republic several times, rate relations between the two countries favourably. Almost 70 % of Germans who have several Czech acquaintances consider relations to be good. Travel to Germany and personal relationships with Germans has a positive impact on mutual relations, also in the case of the Czechs.

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016

Respondents in the two countries were given a list of nine statements describing the characteristics of the other country. Their task was to select those statements which best characterised the neighbouring country, whereby they were permitted to choose as many statements as they wished.

At first glance, the results show different points of departure in the assessment of the two countries. Germany is portrayed in the eyes of the Czechs as an important and modern country with a high standard of living. The Germans see the Czech Republic as an interesting tourist destination and a hospitable country which is also suitable for economic cooperation.

Despite the different approach of the two countries to migration policy, it is interesting that only a quarter of Czechs regard Germany as an outward-looking country. One-fifth of Germans consider the Czech Republic as such.

Their high standard of living easily takes first place among the characteristics which best portray the Germans, primarily in the opinion of Czechs from the border regions. Half of Czech citizens are in no doubt whatsoever that Germany is a modern country and, even more so, with regard to Germany’s influence, irrespective of where they live in relation to the border.

Although citizens of former East Germany are considerably more likely to attribute the characteristic “modern country” to the Czech Republic than those of the former federal republic, less than two-fifths do so.

Those who believe the Czechs to be hospitable are predominantly citizens of the former East Germany. Respondents from the eastern part of the country also most frequently consider the Czech Republic to be an attractive tourist destination. Significantly fewer citizens from the western federal states are likely to characterise the Czech Republic as hospitable, and even fewer consider it to be an interesting tourist destination.

Czechs are least likely to select ‘an interesting tourist destination’ and ‘hospitality” to characterise Germany. This is true for the entire population, not only for those in the border regions.

Germans more frequently attributed distinct national pride to Czechs than Czechs to Germans, primarily Germans from the eastern federal states (at over fifty percent).

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016


Czech and German attitudes towards the European Union

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Czech-German Declaration, the Czech-German Fund for the Future for the Future and the Czech-German Discussion Forum commissioned a comparative public opinion survey to examine how the two countries perceive each other and their attitudes towards the European Union. The survey was conducted by the STEM non-profit institute in the Czech Republic and the Institute für Demoskopie Allensbach (Institute for Public Opinion Research) in Germany.

The STEM survey was conducted on a representative sample of the Czech population aged 16 and over from 30 November to 12 December 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,039 people taking part in the survey. The IfD Allensbach survey was conducted on a representative sample of the German population aged 16 and over from 1 December to 15 December 2016. 12. 2016. Some 1,459 respondents took part in the survey.

The following press release looks at Czech and German attitudes towards the European Union. Respondents in the two countries were given a list of fifteen statements depicting the characteristics of the European Union. They were asked to select those statements which they felt best describe the EU; there was no limit on the number of statements they could choose.

The findings were interesting insofar as the Germans have stronger views on the European Union than the Czechs, irrespective of whether they are negative or positive.

Czechs tend to stick to the middle ground, choosing less favourable, but also less unfavourable statements. In both countries we have seen that the public is instinctively more willing to respond to negative questions rather than to positive ones.

The Czechs highly rate the EU’s vast economic strength and value the EU as a guarantee of peace in Europe. The Germans, in addition to these two positive characteristics, also see the role of the EU as essential in terms of competition with the world powers.

The Czechs most criticized the EU for interfering in the affairs of individual member states, while the Germans were most critical of the level of bureaucracy involved.

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016

In response to whether the different regions should be able to deal with issues at national level or at European level, Germans were much more likely than Czechs to favour a pan-European solution. Nonetheless, they do agree on what comes first in terms of European cooperation, with a common foreign and security policy at number one for the citizens of both countries. A common solution to the refugee crisis is also a major priority in the case of the Germans, coming in a close second.

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016
*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US

On the issue of the refugee crisis, the basic distribution of responses was identical for the two countries. More than half the population in both Germany and the Czech Republic was somewhat confident that a solution would be found to the situation in Europe. Germans were more likely to believe so than Czechs, whose attitudes, however, did not differ much from citizens of former East Germany.

When asked whether they believed that their government had responded appropriately to the challenges associated with the refugee crises, citizens of both countries reacted identically. Approximately 70 % of the population of Germany and the Czech Republic said they were at least somewhat confident in their government’s response to the crisis.

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016

Source: STEM and IfD Allensbach, December 2016