Czech poll finds more optimism, but also more fear of immigrants
Last year the optimism of Czechs grew significantly in many areas of public life. According to most people, however, the situation with respect to immigration has deteriorated in the Czech Republic, as has the security situation.
Those are the findings of the January survey of the Center for Public Opinion Research of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Of the almost 30 subject areas followed, only the two that have to do with foreign relations showed an increase in negative responses compared to 2013.
For all of the subject areas surveyed, more than half of respondents said they had not noticed any improvement during 2014, and most responses stated that the situation had either not changed or had even deteriorated. Nevertheless, the Center says it is possible, in comparison with the assessment of 2013, to speak of a positive shift in public opinion.
The percentage of Czechs who saw no improvement anywhere has fallen year-on-year from roughly one-third to 20 %. There was a significant rise in the number of people who believe the situation in most areas of public life has neither deteriorated nor improved, up to 41 %.
A significant proportion of negative assessments were noted by Center staffers mainly in the areas of immigration, where 57 % of Czechs believe the situation has worsened, and the security situation of the Czech Republic, where 53 % see deterioration. For the field of immigration, compared to 2013, the number of negative assessments has roughly doubled, while it has more than quadrupled with respect to the security situation.
This significant deterioration in perceptions of immigrants and national security has probably been influenced by the fighting in Ukraine and the attacks committed by Islamist terrorists worldwide. The attack on the Paris editorial offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, during which 12 people were murdered, evidently played a significant role in these assessments.
That shooting took place on 7 January of this year, just before the Center undertook its survey. For most of the other areas followed by the survey, however, there was at least a slight increase year-on-year in the proportion of respondents reporting improvements.
Compared to the year 2013, there was a significant rise in positive assessments, for example, of the domestic political situation. For 2013 only 8 % of respondents said they saw improvement, while for 2014 that number is 23 %.
The year 2013 was marked by political change. First the Government of then-PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) fell in mid-year after a scandal involving the arrest of the head of his office, Jana Nagyová (who went on to marry Nečas); the caretaker cabinet of then-PM Jiří Rusnok then proceeded to govern even though the Czech Chamber of Deputies never expressed confidence in it.
Last year greater political stability was introduced by the Government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) forming at the end of January 2014 as a result of elections, and this is probably in the public's assessment of domestic politics. The percentage of Czechs who see improvement in the functioning of the economy has similarly risen significantly, from 7 % to 21 % year-on-year.
The number of positive assessments in the areas of social security and unemployment roughly doubled, but remain at around just 10 % of respondents. Most Czechs (more than two-fifths) also noticed an improvement in the range of goods and services on offer last year.
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