>CEE public opinion: trust me, I’m a … Polish policeman?


To judge by its website (not updated for three years) the Central European Opinion Research Group made up of leading polling agencies in CEE is dead in the water. However, the regular bulletins of the Czech CVVM pollster (in Czech) suggest that CERGE is actually still alive, if not kicking. Comparative data in a recent CVVM press release show some interesting variations in public trust in institutions across the four Visegrad states

It is perhaps unsurprisingly that Courts are strongly trusted in Hungary and but have low trust in Slovakia – Hungary’s courts had a greater degree of independence under later communism, while Slovakia’s were weak, I suspect, under great political pressure under Mečiarism. However, the newly elected left-wing Slovak populist government enjoys is the highest in any of the four states – as the Czech government had not won a vote of confidence in December it was not included (although, as expected, it has just squeaked through thanks to tacit support from two deputies who have quit the opposition Social Democrats). No surprise that the Catholic Church is trusted in Poland and not really trusted by the more liberal, secular Czechs. Local authorities enjoy quite good rating across the whole of the V4.

The police enjoy surprisingly high rates of trust in Poland and Hungary and much less in the Czech Republic and Slovakia – something that fits in with Anna Gryzmala Busse’s ideas about the greater politicization of the state in the latter two (although she doesn’t include police reform in her survey of state reforms). Polish President Kaczynski is less trusted than this counterparts in the rest of the V4, probably because he is seen as partisan and a divisve but a large section of Polish voters. Clearly Václav Klaus, who despite his other failings, has managed the trick could clearly teach him a thing or two. Political parties are, predictably the least trusted institutions surveyed, although they are strikingly distrusted in Poland and the Czech Republic and distrusted by ‘only’ ¾ of respondents in Slovakia and Hungary. This is a little difficult to make sense of as Hungary and the CR have fairly stable party systems and Slovakia and Poland very fluid and unstable ones. I guess one would need to check long term trends to see if recent Czech and Polish political shenanigans have impacted on public opinion, but a quick think through recent events in Hungary and Slovakia does suggest that these countries politician really come up smelling of roses. Overall only Hungary, top politicians and parties excepted, seems to score well in terms of institutional trust across the board, although I guess I should tot up the figures.

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