A new GLOBSEC poll reveals that Central and Eastern Europeans (CEE) have mixed views but do not tolerate undemocratic practices. 59% of respondents from 10 countries of CEE believe Alexei Navalny should not have been sent to jail by Russian authorities after being poisoned and 63% believe human rights are being violated in China.
“Central and Eastern Europeans are sending a clear message by standing up against the violation of human rights, but it also shows that most countries in the region are not ignorant to what is happening in the world around them,” added Dominika Hajdu, analyst at GLOBSEC and co-author.
The perceptions towards countries where such practices are executed are, however, mixed and underscore the differences within the region. China is considered as a strategic partner for their country by 30% of Hungarians, but only 10% Austrians. Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin is perceived positively by 70% of Bulgarians, but only 12% of Poles.
“The perceptions of world superpowers and their leaders differ in the region and depend on a range of factors, from history, religion, to current political situation. The popularity of Vladimir Putin is very high in countries with traditionally pro-Russian sentiments, such as Slovakia or Bulgaria,” added Daniel Milo, Senior Adviser at GLOBSEC and co-author of the report.
Sympathies for authoritarian tendencies are thus not completely absent from the region. Whereas the support for democracy is prevalent and strong in the region with 8 of 10 respondents believing democracy is good for their country, at the same time, 42% in CEE believe a strong leader who does not have to bother with elections and parliament is a good system for their country as well.
“The perceived mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic by national governments, which is very high across the region, nurtures preferences of autocratic leadership. Such attitudes have grown in 5 out of 6 countries since October 2020. Growing openness to autocratic leadership, could pose a severe risk to the already declining democratic standards across CEE,” added Katarína Klingová, GLOBSEC’s Senior Research Fellow and co-author.
Many of the narratives and campaigns undermining democracy have moved online, along with the society, during the pandemic. As the influence of social media keeps rising in society, the calls for their regulation have intensified. A majority in CEE is in agreement with these calls – 55% of respondents from the survey agreed that social media should be more strictly regulated, with support rising as high as 74% in Austria.
‘’The impact of conspiracy theories on people’s lives is demonstrated on people’s willingness to get vaccinated – according to our data, states with a higher proportion of respondents who think COVID-19 is fake have lower willingness to get vaccinated. Unregulated digital space has far-reaching consequences and the majority of populations across CEE perceive it as a problem” added Miroslava Sawiris, GLOBSEC’s Research Fellow.
The whole study can be found on this link.
The opinion polling was executed in 10 countries of Central and Eastern Europe on the representative sample of 1000 respondents per country (altogether 10,000 respondents), in Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
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