At the end of February and beginning of March, the efforts of our country aimed towards the integration in the European Union were supported by 59 % of citizens, with 25 % disagreeing and 16 % not having an opinion on the matter. Consequently, the support stays on a steady majority level on the long-term basis. Negative attitudes after last year’s rise, influenced by the border protests against "Temelín nuclear power plant" and discussions about the so-called transitory period for free movement of labour forces, went back to the level of the previous years.
It is obvious that in most of the countries the activities of the government is viewed positively. Critical views prevail only in Slovakia and Bulgaria (there, only 11,3 % of citizens hold positive opinions, which is the lowest rate in all the monitored countries). On the contrary, the government’s activities are viewed most positively in Romania (61,9 %). As far as the Czech Republic is concerned, Zeman’s cabinet is viewed positively by 45,2 % and negatively by 41,7 % of the respondents.
In comparison with the last year and even more significantly to the year 1999 virtually all the monitored subjects achieved a relatively distinct improvement of their evaluation (with the exception of ODS and media, whose resulting ”mark” has been worse than in 2001). Nevertheless, the public’s view on most of the monitored institutions still remains less positive than it was in 1998 and in particular in 1996.
Survey results reveal that the Czech public has somewhat ambivalent attitudes towards existing political and economic doctrines. In addition to there being the majority unequivocal approval of general liberal views (‘the state should not limit individuals, it should only create conditions for the exercise of their rights and freedoms’; the state should give businesses as much independence as possible’; ‘the scope of private property must not be limited in any way’), there is also a broad positive consensus.
At end of last year, public attention was devoted primarily to foreign events, as a result of the September attacks on the USA, conflict in Afghanistan and the tension in the Middle East. Over the course of time, the public refocused its attention from the above events to the domestic scene, where the Temelín issue dominated in January.
Survey respondents said that they took the greatest interest in local affairs (two thirds of those polled were very or partly interested), followed by an interest in the economic situation of our country (59.9% of those polled were very or partly interested) and an interest in information from abroad (56.7%). However, this information was not specified as ‘political information’; the question was posed generally.
No major sociodemographic differences occurred in respect of CSSD supporters (25%), except a higher percentage of white-collar employees. The ODS (23%) is attractive primarily for respondents with good living standards and voters with university or full secondary education. The party also occupies a strong position among businessmen and tradesmen, white-collar employees, intellectual workers and among Prague inhabitants.
The public considers the ODS and the CSSD to be two equal champions in the election, while not so many people believe in the success of the former Four-Coalition. It is widely believed that the election will not result in a change in the current state of affairs.
The ODS and the CSSD obtained most votes (both 19%) in the assessment of political personalities. In this respect, the results of the ODS and the CSSD were similar (see table 2) also before the 1998 election, whereas in 1996, the ODS had a commanding lead in the assessment of political personalities. The ODS is most frequently regarded by respondents as a party that makes the greatest contribution towards the development of entrepreneurship (40%) and that will best ensure the interests of the Czech Republic (18%).
From the leaders of the parties represented in the Parliament of the Czech Republic the highest level of public confidence was achieved by V. Špidla (57%). He is followed by Svoboda (37%), Marvanová (35%), Klaus (31%), Grebeníček (16%) and Žantovský (13%). Among party leaders people most often concurrently trust V. Špidla and C. Svoboda (26%). The top position remains in the hands of Stanislav Gross (trusted by 72% of the respondents), who is followed by Petra Buzková (65%).