On the whole the population rated 2016 positively; the majority of people are satisfied with their lives

On the whole the population rated 2016 positively; the majority of people are satisfied with their lives

Over three-quarters of Czech citizens (78 %) are currently satisfied with their lives. A two-thirds majority of people (69 %) considered 2016 to be a successful year for them personally. More than half the population (53 %) looked on the past year as a success in terms of society as a whole. In addition to these positive findings, the survey also found that half the respondents chose positive statements to describe their feelings (wellbeing, happiness, everything is as it should be, everything is going well). One third of citizens have a negative perspective on life and the past year. Compared to last year’s survey, there has been a significant change in the mood of society, with the proportion of positive emotions increasing by 10% and negative emotions decreasing by 12%.

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.

The beginning of the year is often associated with looking back and assessing the year just gone by. Since 1994, STEM has been regularly asking people in its January survey how generally satisfied they are with their lives and how they would evaluate the past year from a personal perspective and in terms of development in society.

According to this survey, more than three-quarters of citizens are currently satisfied with their lives. Looking back at 2016, an over two-thirds majority of respondents consider the year to have been a personal success. People are not quite as positive in their assessment of society as a whole, though. Nonetheless, more than half the population believes that 2016 saw positive developments in society. In their assessment of justice and fairness in society, people are even less enthusiastic; almost three-quarters do not believe that last year brought more justice and fairness to society.

Source: STEM, Trendy 2017/1, 1048 respondents

According to the January survey, personal satisfaction with life and with the past year has remained at a high level. Since our January 2015 survey, we have recorded a gradual, albeit slight, increase in optimism among the population. The current survey indicates that even in terms of personal satisfaction with life, the proportion of those who are satisfied is at a historical high since 1994 when STEM started conducting its long-term series of surveys.

Similarly, since 2015 we have also seen an improvement in the population’s assessment of the state of society in terms of general wellbeing. Their assessment of justice and fairness in society has been relatively stable in recent years, at in around the 30% mark.

It appears that the period of negative assessments, characteristic of the years 2010-2014 (particularly in terms of what was going on in society at large), is definitively behind us.

Source: STEM, Trends 1994-2017

The survey found that younger people, the better-educated, the better-off and right-wing and centrist party supporters expressed higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and the past year than other groups in society. By contrast, the over 60s, those with a primary education and worse-off households are less likely to be satisfied.

There were no significant differences between the various socio-demographic groups in terms of satisfaction with the development of society as a whole.

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

Source: STEM, Trends 2017/1, 1048 respondents aged 18+
*Equivalent of A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US

Although government party supporters were most likely to give a positive assessment of the development of society in 2016, the majority of opposition supporters also gave favorable assessments. Moreover, compared to the previous year, we recorded a more significant increase in the proportion of positive responses among Civic Democrat (ODS) and Communist Party (KSČM) supporters than among ANO, Social Democrat (ČSSD) and Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) supporters. Source: STEM, Trends 2016/1, 2017/1
ANO is centrist party and junior coalition partner; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia)

Part of STEM’s beginning of year survey is to ask citizens to give their assessment of the past year in terms of the emotions they associate with it. Respondents were given ten options to choose from. Overall, the results indicated that half the population (50 %) felt positive about the year. They believed that everything is as it should be, everything is going well, and their feeling was one of wellbeing and happiness. By contrast, one third of respondents (33 %) expressed negative emotions such as worry, restlessness, helplessness and anger. Compared to last year’s survey, the proportion of people with a positive mindset has increased by 10 percentage points and those with a negative mindset had decreased by 12%. Among the remaining respondents (17 %) the predominant feeling was one of fatigue and boredom in their assessment of 2016.

The statement most frequently chosen by respondents to describe last year was “everything is as it should be” (23 %). This proportion represents a historical high. By contrast, feelings of fear, worry and uncertainty have fallen to 19 %, representing a historical minimum.

Source: STEM, Trends 1995-2017


More than half the Czech population do not trust the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate

One-third of citizens trust the Chamber of Deputies (33 %) and the same proportion of the population trusts its Speaker Jan Hamáček. Trust in the upper house of the Czech parliament is also at the same level. Only Chairman of the Senate Milan Štěch has a slightly higher trust rating among the public, at 38 %. Nonetheless, since 2015 levels of public trust in both Jan Hamáček and Milan Štěch have decreased somewhat, by 4 percentage points and 8 percentage points, respectively.

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 30 November to 12 December 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,020 people taking part in the survey.

In its survey at the end of 2016, STEM took a look at public levels of trust in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Czech parliament. People were also asked if they trusted the chairmen of these two institutions.

The level of trust in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate is at one-third of the population. The same proportion of citizens also trusts Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Jan Hamáček. Chairman of the Senate Milan Štěch has a somewhat higher trust rating, at almost two-fifths of the public.

Source: STEM, Trendy 2016/12, 1020 respondents

Overall, it can be said that more than half the population (56 %) does not trust either the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate. By contrast, almost one-quarter of citizens (23 %) trust both houses of the Czech parliament. The proportion of people who have trust exclusively in one of the Chambers is almost the same for each house (approx. 10 %).

Current levels of trust in the Chamber of Deputies are significantly higher than during the previous term of office (in December 2012 only 18% of citizens trusted the Chamber of Deputies). Levels of trust in the Senate have remained relatively stable (December 2012: 30 %).

If we compare Jan Hamáček’s trust rating with that of his predecessor Miroslava Němcová, Jan Hamáček had a slightly higher public trust rating during his first year of office. However, while levels of trust in Miroslava Němcová remained relatively stable from 2010 to 2012, we have seen trust in Jan Hamáček drop significantly.

On assuming the office of Chairman of the Senate, 40 % of citizens said they trusted Milan Štěch (similar to his predecessor Přemysl Sobotka at the end of his term of office – in September 2010, Sobotka had a 41 % trust rating). In 2011 and 2012 levels of public trust in Milan Štěch fell and it was not until 2013 that his trust rating returned to the level it was at when he assumed office. After a two-year period of stability, the current survey again shows a decline in trust.

Source: STEM, Trends 2010-2016
(2015: trust in J. Hamáček – September survey, trust in M. Štěch – November survey)

As far as political parties view is concerned, levels of trust in the two Houses of Parliament are significantly higher among Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) and Social Democrat (ČSSD) supporters. The data even suggests that Christian Democrat supporters are more likely to trust Chamber of Deputies Speaker Jan Hamáček than his native Social Democrats supporters. Concerning the proportion of ANO supporters who said they trusted the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and Speaker Jan Hamáček is lower than among supporters of their coalition partners. Nonetheless, trust ratings are even lower among Communist Party (KSČM), STAN and SPD* supporters.

*ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is a centrist party and major junior coalition partner; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and junior coalition partner; STAN is the center-right party of Mayors and Independents; KSČM is the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia; SPD is a party pledging for direct democracy and referendum based democratic decision making.


According to public opinion, corruption is still a serious issue within Czech society

A clear majority of citizens (87 %) considers corruption to be one of our country’s biggest problems. A quarter of the population (24 %) is of the view that almost all public officials take bribes, with half of respondents (52 %) believing that the majority of those in public office do so. A two-thirds majority of the public (67 %) does not believe that Bohuslav Sobotka’s government is genuinely trying to resolve the country’s major tunneling, embezzlement and corruption cases. This figure is up on last year. Three-quarters of the population (77 %) also do not believe that Sobotka’s government has managed to lower the level of corruption in society. Almost two-fifths of respondents (38 %) have noticed some improvement in relation to the pursuit and prosecution of those involved in tunneling, embezzlement and corruption.

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 30 November to 12 December 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,020 people taking part in the survey.

At 87%, a clear majority of citizens considers corruption to be one of our country’s biggest problems. Despite the fact that public perception of corruption as a problem was not as pronounced in 2015 (at the time of the survey, the Czech population was intensely focused on the migrant crisis issue), the current survey indicates a return to the figures recorded in previous surveys, although the proportion of “definitely yes” responses still remains lower than for 2011 and 2012.

Source: STEM, Trends 2010-2016

The opinion that corruption is one of our biggest problems is shared to a similar extent by all citizens, regardless of age, sex and education. Furthermore, there are no fundamental differences in opinion on this issue in terms of political party preferences – Communist Party (KSČM) supporters: 91 % positive responses; ANO: 86 %; Social Democrats (ČSSD): 86 %; Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL): 80 %; Civic Democrats (ODS): 82 %; TOP 09: 78 %).

The seriousness of the corruption problem in the eyes of the public is highlighted by that fact that only one quarter of respondents believes bribery to be limited to only a small number of public officials. Half the population is of the opinion that the majority of those in public office participate in corruption and indeed one quarter of citizens believe almost all public officials to be involved in corruption. In light of the surveys conducted since 1996, the current findings are in no way exceptional, with the public’s critical attitude towards this issue remaining fairly stable over the years.

Source: STEM, Trends 12/2016, 1020 respondents aged 18+

Source: STEM, Trends 1996-2016

As in 2015, STEM’s December survey included questions designed to assess public satisfaction with Bohuslav Sobotka’s government’s attitude towards finding a solution to the problem of corruption. A comparison of the two surveys shows a decrease in the proportion of respondents (by 8 percentage points) who believe that the current government is making a genuine and conscientious effort to have the country’s major tunneling, embezzlement and corruption cases investigated. This means that one third of the public currently believes that Sobotka’s government is making a genuine effort to resolve the problem of corruption. However, in relative terms, Sobotka’s government is still doing better than Petr Nečas’s government (in December 2012 one fourth of the population believed that Nečas’s government was making a genuine effort to investigate corruption).

Source: STEM, Trends 2015/12, 2016/12

The Czech public is still very skeptical in its assessment of the outcome of government efforts to combat corruption. Similar to 2015, three-quarters of the population does not believe that Sobotka’s government will manage to substantially reduce the level of corruption.

Source: STEM, Trends 2015/12, 2016/12

Supporters of the ruling parties have differences in opinions on the current government in relation to the fight against corruption. The proportion of those who positively assess the government’s corruption record is higher among Social Democrat (ČSSD) and Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) supporters than among ANO supporters (whose attitudes are similar to those of the opposition Communist Party (KSČM) supporters). As expected, the majority of right-wing opposition party supporters rate the current government negatively on the issue of combating corruption.

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/12, 1020 respondents aged 18+

(Given their low representation in the group, figures for TOP 09, STAN and SPD supporters are only approximate.)

Almost two-fifths of respondents have noticed some improvement in relation to the pursuit and prosecution of those involved in tunneling, embezzlement and corruption in recent years.

The surveys conducted over the years have shown that responses to questions relating to corruption remained relatively consistent from 2004 to 2011. In December 2012 STEM recorded an increase in positive responses, which can be attributed to the highly publicized corruption case involving governor and Member of Parliament David Rath. Public optimism continued to grow in 2013. In June 2014 the proportion of positive responses dropped again to two-fifths, and in subsequent years continued to decline slightly.

Source: STEM, Trends 2001-2016

Supporters of the government parties, the KDU-ČSL and ČSSD, as well as STAN supporters, are more likely to perceive an improvement in the prosecution of tunneling, embezzlement and corruption cases. Two-fifths of ANO and Communist Party (KSČM) supporters believe there has been an improvement in the handling of corruption. By contrast, the majority of SPD and ODS supporters rate the government’s handling of the issue negatively.

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/12, 1020 respondents aged 18+

(Given their low representation in the group, figures for TOP 09, STAN and SPD supporters are only approximate.)


Going to church at Christmas is a tradition for almost two-fifths of the population

Very few Czech citizens (8%) go to church regularly – if we take regular to mean at least once a month. Nonetheless, greater numbers go to church during the Christmas period, many of whom consider themselves not to be religious. Indeed, going to church is a Christmas tradition for almost two-fifths of citizens (39%). A third of Czech citizens (35 %) say they believe in God.

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 30 November to 12 December 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,020 people taking part in the survey.

For more than twenty years, STEM has been traditionally asking Czech citizens in the December survey whether they believe in God. This year’s survey found that over one-third of the population believes in God (35 %). In the years since STEM started conducting its surveys there has been a moderate decline in the proportion of people who are religious. This decline continued right up to 2012 (in 1995 some 39 % of respondents said they believed in God, in 2012 the proportion had fallen to 30%). After that, there was an increase in the proportion of citizens who said they were religious.

Since 2011 we have found the proportion of those who definitely do not believe in God to be somewhat higher (now at 41 %).

One-third of respondents said they had a religious family upbringing. This proportion is also somewhat lower than it was in the mid-nineties. Indeed, since 2009 there has been a slight decline in the number of people proclaiming to be from religious families.

Faith and religious upbringing

Source: STEM, Trends 12/2016, 1020 respondents aged 18+

 

Source: STEM, Trends 1995-2016

There is a very strong link between religious faith and coming from a religious family, although this connection is by no means unequivocal. One-quarter of citizens believe in God and also come from a religious family, yet one-tenth believe in God, although their family has no relationship with religion. On the other hand, one-tenth of respondents do not believe in God, despite being from religious families.

The proportion of people who believe in God is higher among women (38 %) than men (31 %), substantially higher among the over-60s (45 %) and also among those from the Moravian regions (46 %, compared to 28 % of citizens from the Bohemian regions).

“Do you personally believe in God?”

By age

Source: STEM, Trends 12/2016, 1020 respondents aged 18+

The proportion of citizens who practice their religion is much lower than the proportion of those who believe in God. Just under one-tenth of the population goes to church regularly, at least once a month, with another tenth going several times a year. These proportions have remained very stable in recent years.

“How often do you attend church?”

Source: STEM, Trends 1994-2016

In its pre-Christmas December survey, STEM also asked people whether going to church was one of their Christmas traditions. Almost two-fifths of citizens (39%) said that going to church was one of their Christmas traditions. This is a somewhat lower percentage compared to previous surveys (for instance in 1995 some 45 % of respondents answered in the affirmative).

“Is going to church a Christmas tradition in your family?”

Source: STEM, Trends 12/2016, 1020 respondents aged 18+

The majority of people who attend church at Christmas believe in God, but going to church at Christmas is also a tradition for almost one-third of families who only somewhat believe in God and even for some who are definitely not religious at all.

“Is going to church a Christmas tradition in your family?”

Depending on whether the respondent believes in God

Source: STEM, Trends 12/2016, 1020 respondents aged 18+


People are somewhat dissatisfied with the results of the regional elections

A slight majority of Czech citizens (56 %) are dissatisfied with the results of this year’s regional elections. Prague residents were excluded from the survey. Public mood is different to what it was after the last regional elections. In the past people were somewhat satisfied with the outcome of the regional elections. Although the level of satisfaction among those who turned out to vote in this year’s regional elections is higher, this is by no means significant (52 % satisfied, 48 % dissatisfied).

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 13 to 21 October 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,054 people taking part in the survey.

As with regional elections in the past, STEM carried out a survey in the immediate aftermath of the regional elections to gauge general public satisfaction with the results of the elections. Both those who voted and those who did not turn out to the polls had the opportunity to give their opinion (Prague residents were not included in the survey since regional elections were not held in the capital).

Slightly over half of respondents (56 %) said they were dissatisfied with the results of the recent regional elections. By contrast, over two-fifths of citizens (44 %) are satisfied.

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/10, 1054 respondents
(893 respondents, excluding Prague residents)

In comparison with past elections to the regional assemblies, the level of satisfaction with the outcome of this year’s elections is lower than in previous years. Following the regional elections in 2008 and 2012, an approximately three-fifths majority of the population was satisfied with the results. Therefore, this year’s post-election situation has caused embarrassment and given rise to a feeling of uncertainty among a section of the population, with a high proportion of “somewhat dissatisfied” respondents compared to in the past.

Source: STEM, Trends 2008/11, 2012/11, 2016/10 (excluding Prague residents)

Opinion is divided among respondents who considered it important to express their preferences in the regional elections and came out to vote, with half indicating that they are satisfied with the election outcome, and the other half indicating dissatisfaction. Data analysis suggests that ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) voters are more likely to be satisfied with the election results. Communist Party (KSČM) voters are the least satisfied grouping. In terms of satisfaction with the election results, Social Democrats (ČSSD) are split down the middle.

The majority of citizens who failed to turn out at the regional elections are dissatisfied with the results (64 %). The level of dissatisfaction is highest (81 %) among citizens who did not go to the polls due to their disgust with politics as a whole in this country.

Source:
STEM, Trends 2016/10, 1054 respondents (893 respondents, excluding Prague residents)

The data has indicated that there are no significant differences in satisfaction with the election results according to region. However, given the low number of respondents in each of the different regions, these figures are only approximate.

Our data shows only a slightly higher level of satisfaction among citizens in the Vysočina, South Moravian, Pardubice and Liberec regions; by contrast, it indicates a lower level in the Hradec Králové region.


Two-thirds of Czechs believe that too many foreigners are working in the country

Despite the decrease in the number of people who believe that there are too many foreigners working here and that they’re taking our jobs, a majority of the population still holds that opinion

Two-thirds of Czechs (66 %) believe that too many foreigners are working in our country, and only a slightly lower percentage (60 %) say that the employment of foreigners is depriving our people of jobs. Compared with last year’s survey, the proportion of citizens who agree with these opinions has fallen. As in previous years, a three-fifths majority of the population (60 %) does not agree that foreigners are the only solution to labour shortages in certain professions.

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 16 to 23 March 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,050 people taking part in the survey.

Since 2009, when there was a noticeable rise in unemployment and the public started to feel the effects of the economic crisis, STEM has been monitoring public opinion on the fact that a relatively high number of foreigners are employed in many professions in this country. In the context of a change in the attitudes of Czech citizens towards foreigners and increased optimism in terms of economic outlook, it is interesting to track the dynamics of opinion on the employment of foreigners in this country.

According to the latest survey, a two-thirds majority of citizens (66 %) consider the number of foreigners living here to be too high. A three-fifths majority of the population (60 %) believes that foreigners are taking our citizens’ jobs. By contrast, two-fifths of people (40 %) admit that in the case of certain professions, without foreigners it would be difficult to find a solution to fill gaps in the labour market.

Source: STEM, Trends 3/2016, 1050 respondents aged 18 +

Up until last year’s survey, opinions on the employment of foreigners had been very stable. While the proportion of those who believed that the employment of foreigners was the only solution to labour shortages remained at the same level as in the previous two surveys, the level of agreement with the other two opinions analysed in the surveys decreased. The majority opinion that there are too many foreigners working in this country and that they are depriving our citizens of jobs decreased by 14 and 12 percentage points, respectively. Despite this decline, a clear majority of Czech citizens agree with these statements.

Source: STEM, Trends 2009-2016

Attitudes towards the number of foreigners in this country and their role in the labour market are not affected to any great extent by socio-demographic characteristics. The only factor that plays a definite role is level of education: the higher the level of education, the lower the proportion of respondents who agree with the statements that there are too many foreigners working in this country and that they are depriving our citizens of jobs. Moreover, compared with the last survey, the fall in the number of respondents who held the opinion that foreigners were “taking” the jobs of Czech citizens was much more significant among university graduates than among those in the remaining educational categories. Essentially, this means that in this educational category the proportion of citizens who disagree with this opinion already exceeds the proportion who agree (viz. second graph below).

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK,
High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 3/2016, 1050 respondents aged 18 +

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK,
High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 3/2015, 3/2016

Differences according to social status are not statistically significant (the data merely indicate that the unemployed evidently most often believe that foreigners our depriving our citizens of work – 78 % of those who are unemployed answered in the affirmative). The opinions of those in employment differ slightly, however. The proportion of citizens who agree that there are too many foreigners in this country and that they are depriving our citizens of jobs is higher among blue-collar and white-collar workers and, by contrast, lower among those in management positions, experts and operational managers.

Source: STEM, Trends 3/2016, 1050 respondents aged 18 +
(531 employees; given their low representation in the survey, figures for those in management positions are only approximate)

In terms of political affiliation, it is evident that right-wing individuals have more favourable opinions on the employment of foreigners in this country – they are less likely to be of the opinion that too many foreigners work here and that they are taking our jobs.

Source: STEM, Trends 3/2016, 1050 respondents aged 18 +


World leaders favourability ratings – June 2016

Of the world leaders selected, Pope Francis enjoyed the highest ratings among the population. In line with recent surveys, Czech citizens also have a very positive opinion of Slovak Prime Minister R. Fico. By contrast, Russian President V. Putin and primarily German Chancellor Angela Merkel have received predominantly unfavourable ratings. President of the European Commission J.-C. Juncker still remains little known among citizens.

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 13 to 21 June 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,061 people taking part in the survey.

In addition to looking at Czech attitudes towards various countries, in its June 2016 survey STEM focused on how the public rated foreign political figures, presidents and prime ministers of certain countries, the president of the European Commission and the head of the Catholic Church. The survey was conducted shortly before the British public voted on membership of the European Union and thus before the outcome of the Brexit referendum was known. The graph below plots the findings.

Rating of foreign figures
“Please give me your opinion on the following foreign political figures.”

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is unquestionably the highest rated international figure among Czech citizens, with over two-thirds of the public viewing him positively. Although this proportion is marginally lower than in our December 2015 survey (by 6 percentage points), he enjoys nonetheless the highest rating. Compared with his predecessor Benedict XVI, Pope Francis is still held in significantly higher regard by the Czech public (in 2009 Benedict XVI was rated favourably by 52 % of citizens).

Leaders of western European powers and Russia

A three-fifths majority of respondents rated British Prime Minister David Cameron positively in the June survey. President Barack Obama was rated favourably by over half the population. The public was undecided about French President Francois Hollande. Vladimir Putin and particularly German Chancellor Angel Merkel were rated negatively. If we examine the changes in the popularity of the five leaders since the December 2015 survey, D. Cameron and V. Putin have gone down slightly in the public’s estimation. There has been a more significant drop in F. Hollande’s popularity, while A. Merkel’s popularity is continuing to decline. The public view of B. Obama is similar to what it was in December 2015.

“Please give me your opinion on the following foreign political figures.”(proportion of “very favourable” and “somewhat favourable” ratings in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2008-2016

Russian President Putin is rated more favourably by men than women (37 % and 28 % favourable ratings, respectively), the over 60s (39 %) and those with a primary education (41 %) or apprenticeship (35 %).

In relation to attitudes towards the German Chancellor, there is no significant difference among the various population groups. The October 2013 survey found that Angela Merkel was rated favourably primarily by the better educated in society. Her ratings have since considerably deteriorated in connection with the refugee crisis. The current survey shows a continued decline in positive ratings, but more so among the less-educated sections of the population.

Comparison of A. Merkel’s ratings by education for 2013, 2015 and 2016
(proportion of “very favourable” and “somewhat favourable” opinions in %)

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 2013/10, 2015/12, 2016/6

In terms of socio-demographic factors, there are no significant differences in the public’s opinon of B. Obama, D. Cameron and F. Hollande, apart from the fact that the better educated are more likely to know the British Prime Minister and the French President.

Attitudes towards the heads of state of Russia, the US and Germany are very much influenced by political preferences. As expected, when compared with supporters of the other parliamentary parties, Communist Party (KSČM) supporters have a decidedly more favourable opinion of Vladimir Putin while are, on the contrary, more critical of Barack Obama. TOP 09 and Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) supporters rate Angela Merkel more positively.

B. Obama, V. Putin and A. Merkel’s ratings according to political party preferences
(proportion of “very favourable” and “somewhat favourable” opinions in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents aged 18+
Note: Given their low representation in the group, figures for ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL supporters are only approximate.

ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is centrist party and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).

Eastern neighbours

Robert Fico enjoys a high level of popularity among our citizens. Time and again surveys have found that Czech citizens have a distinctly positive attitude towards Slovakia and its political representatives. A third of respondents do not know Hungarian Prime Minister V. Orbán. The majority of those who do know him rate him favourably, and he has the same proportion of positive ratings as in the last survey. The Slovak Prime Minister’s favourability rating is also almost identical to December 2015 figures.

“Please give me your opinion on the following foreign political figures.”(proportion of “very favourable” + “somewhat favourable” ratings in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2009-2016

Robert Fico has a higher proportion of unfavourable ratings among university graduates and those with a secondary education, although a majority of these respondents also rate him positively.

R. Fico’s ratings by education

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents aged 18+

The following graph illustrates the prime ministers of Slovakia and Hungary’s ratings according to respondents’ political affiliation. While Communist Party (KSČM) supporters are more likely to rate Robert Fico favourably, he is also positively rated by supporters of government parties. The only group in this category with a different opinion of Viktor Orbán are TOP 09 supporters, a significantly lower proportion of whom rate him favourably.

Robert Fico and Viktor Orbán’s rating according to political party preferences
(proportion of “very favourable” + “somewhat favourable” opinions in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents aged 18+
Note: Given their low representation in the group, figures for ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL supporters are only approximate.

ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is  centrist party and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).

European Union representative

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker’s rating is unique in that a large proportion of respondents do not know him at all (40 %). The majority of those who do, rate him unfavourably (19 % positive opinions vs. 41 % negative). When compared to the findings of the December 2015 survey, there was no change in the proportion of respondents who did not know who the President of the European Commission was. The only difference was that there was a 3 percentage points’ increase in the proportion of those who viewed Mr. Juncker favourably. It is noteworthy that the October 2013 survey found that just under a quarter of respondents had never heard of Juncker’s predecessor José Manuel Barroso and the majority of those who had, rated him positively (48 %).

 


Czech attitudes towards certain European and non-European countries (prior to Brexit, Nice, the coup attempt in Turkey and violent attacks in Germany)

Prior to Brexit, the Nice attack, the attempted coup in Turkey and violent attacks in Germany, Slovakia enjoyed the highest favourability rating among Czech citizens, with Austria in second place. The vast majority of the public also rated the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Croatia positively. Of the non-European countries, Japan received the highest rating. There has been no fundamental shift in attitudes since the December 2015 survey. Attitudes towards Germany and the United States have further deteriorated slightly. Hungary, Russia and Ukraine also received somewhat less favourable ratings than in the last survey and, once more, Turkey, Ukraine, China, Russia and Serbia fared the worst.

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 13 to 21 June 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,061 people taking part in the survey.

Since 1994 STEM has been regularly monitoring the attitudes of Czech citizens towards certain European countries and the world powers. The June 2016 survey was conducted shortly before the British public voted on membership of the European Union and thus before the outcome of the Brexit referendum was known.

First, let us sum up the results of the survey. Respondents were asked to rate their attitudes towards the various countries on a scale of one to five, with one being the most positive. Slovakia clearly came out on top, with 85 % of respondents rating the country at one or two. Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, France and Croatia also enjoyed very positive ratings, receiving a one or a two from approximately 70 % of citizens. Over half of those surveyed also rated Denmark, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Hungary, Slovenia and Poland favourably. Just under half of respondents viewed Germany favourably, giving the country a score of one or two. Turkey received the most ‘bad’ marks, followed by Russia and Ukraine. The United States, Serbia and China also received few positive ratings.

At the end of 2015 we observed a significant decrease in the proportion of positive ratings awarded to certain countries, compared with the results of the 2013 survey. This shift was most notable in the case of Germany, but other western European countries also fared worse than previously (Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom). The results of the most recent survey indicate a further slight decline in positive ratings for Germany and France. In the case of the other countries listed above, a small increase in favourable ratings was recorded. This by no means signifies a return to 2013 figures, however.

While Czech citizens’ attitudes towards Poland continue to improve, there has, by contrast, been no such improvement in Hungary’s ratings since the December 2015 survey. It is worth noting that Russia has also seen a fall in favourable ratings since the last survey.

Country popularity chart
“I’m going to read you the names of various countries and, using the school grading system, I’d like you to rate your attitude towards them on a scale of one to five, with one being the most favourable rating and five the least favourable.“
Rating in % (school grades: one = most favourable, five = least favourable)

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents

Country popularity comparison for 2013, 2015 and 2016
“I’m going to read you the names of various countries and, using the school grading system, I’d like you to rate your attitude towards them on a scale of one to five, with one being the most favourable rating and five the least favourable.“
Rating in % (school grades: one = most favourable, five = least favourable)

Source: STEM, Trends 2013/10, 2015/12, 2016/6

The following graph, which plots the attitudes of Czech citizens towards Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States over a period of more than twenty years, clearly shows a dramatic deterioration in the ratings of these countries in the 2015 survey, most notably in the case of Germany. Only the United Kingdom received a slightly higher rating in the June survey. It still remains to be seen, however, how the results of the Brexit referendum will be reflected in Czech attitudes towards the United Kingdom.

Development in the ratings of selected countries (1994-2016)
(Ratings using the school grading system: one = most favourable, five = least favourable; proportion of 1 + 2 grades in %)

Source: STEM, Trends Series 1994-2016

More detailed analyses of developments in attitudes towards Germany demonstrate interesting differences in relation to the level of education of respondents. The survey conducted at the end of 2015 found a fall in positive ratings for Germany in all educational categories. As this drop was most significant among university graduates, this resulted in a consensus on Germany among the various educational groups. The current data shows a further deterioration in attitudes towards Germany among the less educated. By contrast, in the most recent survey, secondary school and university graduates rated Germany slightly more favourably than in the December 2015 survey. Therefore, differences in terms of level of education are again more apparent, although not quite to the extent they were in 2013.

Differences in attitudes towards Germany by education (2013, 2015 and 2016)
(proportion of 1+2 grades in %)

*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US
Source: STEM, Trends 2013/10, 2015/12, 2016/6


Czech public opinion on the direction of social policy

The June survey conducted by STEM found that slightly over half the population (56 %) would be more inclined to support families with children than to increase old-age pensions. A clear majority (70 %) calls on the state to focus primarily on expanding social services rather than on increasing social welfare payments. Society is divided into two equal camps on whether to invest additional resources in environmental protection or to increase the various social welfare payments.

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 13 to 21 June 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,061 people taking part in the survey.

STEM has been systematically monitoring the opinions of Czech citizens on social policy issues in the long-term. The results of the surveys, conducted over a period of twenty years, have shown that since the second half of the nineties the Czech public has been considerably more in favour of helping families with children than pensioners. Ten years later saw the beginning of a shift in public opinion, with part of the population being more inclined to believe that pensioners were worse off. Nonetheless, those who are more in favour of supporting families are still in the majority, although the current survey found that the proportion of citizens who hold this view is at a historic low.

“Imagine if you had to decide on whether to increase old-age pensions or extend the level of financial support provided to families with children. Which of the two options would you choose?”

Source: STEM, Trends 1997-2016

How should social policy be put into practice: by offering additional services or increasing social welfare payments? Prior to 2000, opinion was divided equally, but after that, there was a rise in the proportion of people who believed that the state social protection system should be based more on expanding social services than on increasing social welfare payments. Over the years, this opinion has continued to become more prevalent among citizens (primarily in 2013 and 2014). The June survey saw a slight decline in this view, but it will take subsequent surveys to confirm whether this is a long-term change or merely a short-term blip.

“State social protection measures consist of two basic areas – social welfare payments and social services. Which of these two areas do you believe the Czech state should prioritise?”

Source: STEM, Trends 1997-2016

If people were to choose whether to invest more resources in environmental protection or increase the various social welfare payments, half the population would currently favour one area, the second half, the other. The current findings are identical to those of the November 2014 survey.

“Imagine if you had to decide on whether to invest additional financial resources in environmental protection or increase the various social welfare payments. Which of the two would you prioritise?”

Source: STEM, Trends 1998-2016

Opinions on pensions and social policy differ considerably according to the age, education, and the financial situation of respondents. Political orientation and party political preferences are also determining factors.

The older the respondent, the more likely it is for him/her to have a preference for increasing old-age pensions. Older respondents are also more inclined to favour increasing various social welfare payments over investing in the environment. The majority of respondents in all age categories believe that expanding the spectrum of social services should take precedence over increasing social welfare payments.

Opinions on pensions and social policy
(by respondents’ age, proportion of those in favour in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents

In terms of education, the most significant differences in opinion were recorded in the respondents’ answers to the question regarding whether to increase social welfare payments or invest in the environment. The majority of respondents with a secondary or university education believed it was more important to prioritise environmental protection, whereas the reverse was true for those with a lower level of education.

Those with a higher level of education were also somewhat more likely to call for an expansion of social services rather than an increase in social welfare payments. This group was also more inclined to favour providing additional support to families over increasing pensions.

Opinions on pensions and social policy
(by education, the proportion of those in favour in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents
*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK,
High School Diploma in the US

Differences in the opinions of respondents according to party preference on the question of whether they would favour increasing pensions or providing additional support to families are largely determined by the age profile of the electorate of the various political parties. This is also one of the reasons Communist party (KSČM) supporters, who are in the older demographic, are least likely to prioritise support for families. By contrast, Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) and conservative TOP 09 supporters are most likely to favour providing support to families with children.

Supporters of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and conservative TOP 09 prioritised investment in the environment over increasing social welfare payments. The majority of Communist party (KSČM) and Social Democrat (ČSSD) supporters are in favour of increasing social welfare payments.

The majority of supporters of all parliamentary parties are of the view that expanding existing social services should take precedence over increasing social welfare payments.

Opinions on pensions and social policy
(by political party preferences, the proportion of those in favour in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents
Note: Given their low representation in the group, figures for ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL supporters are only approximate.

ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is  centrist party and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).

 


Public still very critical of old-age pension levels

Over four-fifths of the population (83 %) do not consider the level of old-age pensions in this country to be adequate. According to almost three-quarters of citizens (74 %), the average old-age pension fails to cover the basic needs of the elderly. Four-fifths of the population (81 %) do not think that the current pension system allows people to live in dignity in their old age. Over three-fifths of respondents (63 %) believe that the political leadership of the country underestimates the provision of social security to citizens. There have been no fundamental changes in public perception of this issue since the May 2015 survey.

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 13 to 21 June 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,061 people taking part in the survey.

Czech politicians have given relatively little attention to pension policy in recent years, and any consideration given to this issue has been rather careless and hit and miss and linked primarily to increasing current pension levels alone. No significant changes are actually taking place in the area of pension policy. It is not surprising, then, that Czech public opinion has been critical of the current pension system for a long time. Over four-fifths of citizens (83 %) consider the current pensions paid out to senior citizens to be inadequate. A three-quarters majority (74 %) believes that the average old-age pension is insufficient to cover the basic needs of pensioners. Furthermore, four-fifths of respondents (81 %) do not think that the current pension system enables people to spend their old age in a dignified manner.

Opinions on old-age pensions (data in %)

Source: STEM, Trends 6/2016, 1061 respondents

According to the STEM surveys conducted between 1998 and 2002, public opinion on old-age pensions for that period was relatively stable. During those years the majority of citizens were critical of pension levels and their inadequacy in terms of allowing older people to live in dignity. The public was divided into two camps on whether pensions were sufficient to cover basic everyday needs. Since 2003, however, public criticism has been escalating, and was particularly strong in the May 2008 survey. The subsequent improvement in public attitudes towards pension levels ended in 2011, with public satisfaction at its lowest in the November 2014 survey. Since then, surveys have found only a partial improvement in attitudes towards the adequacy of pensions and the issue of whether pensions, at their current level, cover the basic needs of pensioners.

“Do you think that old-age pensions in the Czech Republic are currently adequate?”
(sum of “definitely yes” + “somewhat yes” answers in %)
Source: STEM, Social Protection 2/1998, Trends 2001-2016

“In your opinion, is the average old-age pension adequate to cover pensioners’ basic needs?” (sum of “definitely yes” + “somewhat yes” answers in %)
Source: STEM, Social Protection 2/1998, Trends 2001-2016

 

“Do you think that the current pension system allows people to live in dignity in their old age?”
(sum of “definitely yes” + “somewhat yes” answers in %)
Source: STEM, Social Protection 2/1998, Trends 2002-2016

Statistical analysis shows that a somewhat greater proportion of younger people consider pensions to be adequate, but even among this group, this view is clearly in the minority. In terms of the other questions put to respondents, we did not find any significant age-related differences.

“Do you think that old-age pensions in the Czech Republic are currently adequate?”

Source: STEM, Trends 6/2016, 1061 respondents

However, respondents’ opinions on the pensions system differed considerably according to their political orientation. Communist party (KSČM) supporters are most critical. By contrast, a somewhat higher proportion of Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) supporters believe that old-age pensions are adequate, are sufficient to cover the basic needs of pensioners and that the current system enables people to live in dignity when they are older. On the issue of whether or not current pension rates are adequate to cover day-to-day needs, supporters of the centrist ANO party and conservative TOP 09 concur with Christian Democrat supporters.

Opinions on old-age pensions
By political party preference
(proportion of “definitely yes” + “somewhat yes” answers in %)
Source: STEM, Trends 6/2016, 1061 respondents

Note: Given their low representation in the group, figures for ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL supporters are only approximate.

ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is a centrist party and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).

To conclude, we will look once again at the findings related more generally to the issue of social protection policy. Over three-fifths of citizens (63 %) believe that the current political leadership underestimates the provision of social security (definitely yes: 26 %, somewhat yes: 27 %, somewhat no: 29 %, definitely no: 8 %). This opinion is currently held by somewhat fewer people than during the economic crisis, but nonetheless the majority of citizens still believe this to be the case.

“Do you think that the current political leadership underestimates the provision of social security to the population?”
(sum of “definitely yes” + “somewhat yes” answers in %)
Source: STEM, Trends 1993-2016

How do supporters of the various political parties rate the approach taken by the government to the issue of social protection? Communist Party (KSČM) are most critical, followed by Civic Democrat (ODS) supporters. By contrast, supporters of the opposition conservative TOP 09 party are least likely to believe that the current government underestimates the provision of social security. Supporters of the governing parties agree on this issue, although a slight majority of them are of the view that the political leadership is not focusing enough on social protection issues.

“Do you think that the current political leadership underestimates the provision of social security to the population?”
By political party preference (proportion of “definitely yes” + “somewhat yes” answers in %)
Source: STEM, Trends 6/2016, 1061 respondents

Note: Given their low representation in the group, figures for ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL supporters are only approximate.

ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is centrist party and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).