Weak support for liberal democracy in eastern EU, poll finds – POLITICO

Liberal democracy enjoys weak support in much of central and eastern Europe, according to a poll conducted in 10 countries in the region.

The study published by Globesec The think tank found that in four of the 10 countries surveyed – Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Bulgaria – less than 50% of respondents supported “liberal democracy with regular elections and a multi-party system” as the best form of government.

In Bulgaria, 45% said that “having a strong and decisive leader who doesn’t have to worry about parliament or the elections” is preferable, with 35% supporting liberal democracy.

In Austria, the preference was reversed, with equivalent figures of 7% and 92%. Meanwhile, in Hungary and Poland, 81% and 66%, respectively, expressed support for the liberal democratic system. Twelve percent and 26 percent respectively want a strong leader.

“The results suggest that the quality of democracy in the country has no relation to support for liberal democracy,” write the authors of the Globsec report. “In some countries, high support for liberal democracy persists despite declining international ratings,” referring to criticism from Poland and Hungary regarding threats to the rule of law in countries.

There are also large differences between countries with regard to perceived threats to national identity and values. In Slovakia, 50 percent of those polled said that “Western societies and their way of life” posed such a threat, while in Austria, Hungary and Poland, only 24 percent, 23 percent and 23 percent one hundred respectively had the same opinion.

Majorities in Slovakia (72%), Estonia (56%), Hungary (52%) and the Czech Republic (72%) said migrants threatened their identity and values.

The level of trust in the media also varies greatly from country to country.

In Hungary, 64 percent of respondents said they think the government influences the media, while 62 percent said the same in Poland. Meanwhile, 57% of Austrians said “oligarchs and strong financial groups” have such influence.

A survey was conducted in March in Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia with samples of 1,000 or more respondents in each country.

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