Photo: KK / BD

Poll: 17% of Czechs Say Life Was Better Under Communism

Czechs now see the environment as better than before 1989, while they see solidarity among people as worse. Credit: KK/BD.

Prague, Nov 17 (CTK) – One in six Czechs (17%) believe that people were better off before 1989, while more than half of them (54%) have the opposite view, according to a survey by the STEM/MARK agency. 

The poll was commissioned by the Festival of Freedom, who organised a series of large events across the Czech Republic this weekend to mark 17th November, the Day of Freedom and Democracy.

The demographic groups most likely to be sceptical about the developments after the fall of the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1989 were the oldest generation, those with less education, and those with lower incomes.

Jan Burianec from STEM/MARK said the 54% of respondents who feel that they are better off after the Velvet Revolution not only say that they are better off overall but also in most specific aspects.

Burianec said young people under 30, those with higher education and higher incomes, and residents of Prague and large cities are more positive about today’s situation.

He noted that Czechs now see the environment as better than before 1989, while they see solidarity among people as worse. “What is most perceived as better before 1989 than today is the availability of housing,” Burianec said.

According to 47% of respondents, the prices of goods are worse now, and one-fifth say education is also worse compared to before 1989. On the other hand, the majority of people agree that they have better job opportunities, better living standards, freedom of expression and more opportunities to travel.

More than two-fifths of respondents believe that food quality has deteriorated, and around one-third think food quality is better now. People in Prague in particular are more optimistic about food.

People who say prices are better now are in the minority. Almost half think they are worse than before 1989. However, about half believe that people now have more purchasing power.

Although the prevailing view is that both education and health care are better now, a quarter said the opposite for education and a fifth for health care. The oldest generation is particularly critical, and also believes there is a lack of solidarity in Czech society.

People are divided in their opinions on security – 40% of respondents said this has worsened, while the same proportion said the opposite. The majority of people think that crime has increased.

The majority of respondents (56%) believe that people have a better standard of living compared to the pre-1989 period, 54% believe that job opportunities are better, 67% praise freedom of expression and 79% believe there are more opportunities to travel .

The survey was conducted on 511 respondents aged between 15 and 64.

The Festival of Freedom traditionally includes performances on Narodni trida, a concert on Wenceslas Square and the presentation of the Memory of the Nation Awards. It covers events organised by civic initiatives to commemorate the November events not only in Prague but also in dozens of other cities.

A poll, which the Median agency sent to CTK today, shows that a considerable majority of people in the country believe that Czech society is divided and distrust prevails. Most people perceive politics as divisive, and they generally believe that Czech society lacks a clear vision, and would therefore welcome a society-wide discussion.

According to the poll, 90% of people in the country agree that society is divided, with 80% blaming politicians. A great majority of respondents also said that psychological problems and depression are on the rise in society.

“Contrasting with the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy is the finding that 59% of people say censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression are returning to our lives and half of the people are sometimes afraid to express their views openly,” the pollsters said , adding that most people perceived a risk of restrictions on freedom in the context of the coronavirus epidemic.

A divided society is a major contributor to the current crisis in society, according to the respondents. Most Czechs perceived the economic situation and politics as the main causes of the crisis. Other factors are disinformation, international relations, and social mistrust.

More than three-quarters of people would welcome a society-wide discussion aimed at bringing concrete solutions to restore trust between people and unite a divided society. “Almost half of the respondents are ready to engage in projects and activities aimed at improving the situation in the country,” the authors of the poll said.

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