Survey shows people in the Czech Republic trust each other less and have less tolerance for minorities
Trust is declining in the Czech Republic. So is the degree of tolerance for some minorities - immigrants in general and Muslims in particular.
Respondents to surveys have long rejected the idea of having Romani people among them in various settings as well. Those are the findings of the most recent collection of data created as part of a longitudinal research project by the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University (FSS MU).
The outcomes were presented to the press by the authors on Wednesday. Survey respondents have long stated that they do not want alcoholics and drug addicts around them, in addition to disliking Roma.
In recent years tolerance for ethnic and religious minorities has also significantly declined. While in the year 1991 roughly 20 % of respondents did not want a Muslim as a neighbor, last year 58 % of respondents felt that way.
Experts have noted similar developments for the categories of foreign workers and immigrants. The sole category where Czech society has become more accepting is the LGBT community.
Despite that improvement, last year every fifth Czech person still said they would not want to have LGBT neighbors. Sociologist Petr Fučík says that "Czech society was very quickly deprived during the course of several generations of experiencing difference, especially ethnic or religious difference."
"Be that as it may, during the 1990s those attitudes of rejection were slightly reduced and the trend headed in a positive direction. It was not until 2008 and especially in the last wave of this research that we see a change," said Fučík.
The researcher blames Islamist terrorism and the migration crisis for these developments - and according to the study, Czechs also trust each other less. When asked whether it is possible to trust people, just 23 % of respondents answer positively, the lowest response during the entire research period.
It is also a significantly lower proportion than among western democracies, where the degree of so-called interpersonal trust is about 40 %. The head of the Institute of Population Studies at FSS MU, Ladislav Rabušic, considers these outcomes alarming.
Interpersonal trust, according to Rabušic, is important from the standpoint of democratic functioning and social capital, which is crucial to the economic prosperity of any society. The scientists are researching people's faith in institutions longitudinally as well.
A significant decline in general trust in the media was reported during the most recent survey. International organizations such as the European Union and United Nations were most trusted in 1999 and have been losing trust ever since.
Especially between 2008 and 2018, faith in those institutions markedly declined. On the other hand, declarations of trust in the Army, the legal system, and the police have increased.
Political scientist Roman Chytilek described the contrast between these two categories as follows: "On the one hand we included institutions in the survey that place an emphasis on discussing and presenting different opinions, and on the other hand those that symbolize law and order." When interpreting the findings, he believes there is a connection with the migration crisis, because while the one kind of institution is customarily associated with intensifying that crisis, the other can be perceived as providing protection from it.
Researchers also investigated belief in conspiracy theories or faith in the democratic order, and according to the political scientists the findings were surprising. As many as 41 % of respondents expressed agreement with the statement that the assertions of officialdom very frequently cover up the truth.
Senior citizens and persons with lower levels of academic achievement are more inclined to believe conspiracy theories. Belief in conspiracies, however, differs according to voter preferences as well, according to Chytilek.
Those who vote for ANO, the Communists, and the SPD believe in conspiracy theories the most, according to the scientists, while Christian Democratic and TOP 09 voters believe in them the least. Fom the standpoint of faith in political orders, despite all these negative phenomena, democracy was still the winner.
The number of people who believe in democracy, moreover, has significantly increased since 2008. The reason for that may be economic prosperity.
According to Chytilek, the responses may also indicate that people have the feeling that the spectrum of opinion representing them in Parliament is sufficiently diverse. The numbers coming from this series of repeated surveys that are being undertaken in the Czech Republic are part of the European Values Study, a comparative project.
The research is repeated approximately every nine years and the data gleaned create a longitudinal depiction of developments. The data make it possible for researchers to ascertain how certain attitudes and preferences in terms of values are developing in the Czech Republic and other European countries.
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