Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, today’s eastern Europeans are fearful for the future of democracy, skeptical of government and the main political parties, and distrustful of the media, according to a new survey.
YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, surveyed thousands of residents of Eastern Europe, asking for their opinions of democracy, the ruling parties, politics, and the media in their respective countries.
The survey showed that a majority of Eastern Europeans are concerned that their country’s democracy will fall.
Most people surveyed in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary and Germany said they didn’t trust the mainstream media, and just over half said they did not trust government statements.
The YouGov survey included 12,500 residents of Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Czechia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and others. Between 51-61% of residents in these countries, including in Germany, expressed concerns over the future of democracy in their countries.
Three-quarters of those polled in Bulgaria, over half in Hungary and Romania, a third in Poland and a fifth of Germans also thought their country’s elections were neither free nor fair, while across all seven countries surveyed, less than a quarter of respondents over 40 thought the world was safer than in 1989.
The vast majority of respondents also answered in the negative when asked if their country’s media reports reliably, and if they trust what central media reports. Most respondents also said that they do not believe the local government’s reports.
“Our results demonstrate that where the establishment has failed citizens, civil society is perceived as a trustworthy counterpart,” the authors said, pointing to recent mass anti-corruption protests in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania.
Despite what the report called a “widespread collapse of trust,” many younger people — particularly Generation Z (people aged 18 to 22) and millennials (and 23 to 37) — said they believe they can influence politics and improve society. These age groups are more likely than older groups to want support for refugees, immigrants, and the LGBTI community.