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Czechs increasingly distrustful of one another, survey shows

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Brno, June 27 (CTK) – The trust among people diminishes and the tolerance of some minorities, Muslims and migrants in particular, is also decreasing in the Czech Republic, according to a long-term survey conducted by the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University (FSS MU) and unveiled on Wednesday.

Czechs tend to reject alcoholics, drug addicts and the Roma around them. In the past years, the tolerance of ethnic and religions minorities also considerably decreased.

In 1991, a Muslim as a neighbour was rejected by roughly 20 percent of Czechs, but the figure surged to 58 percent by 2017.

A similar development was uncovered in the case of migrants and foreign workers. An improvement could only be seen in the relation to homosexuals, whom Czech society now accepts more. Despite this, every-fifth Czech was not ready to have them as neighbours in 2017.

“During several generations, Czech society lost the experience with encountering different people, either in the sphere of ethnic origin or religion. Despite this, the negative attitudes slightly diminished in the 1990s and the trend was started in a generally positive direction. It was only in 2008 and especially in the last wave of the survey that we could see a change,” sociologist Petr Fucik said.

This was due to the migration crisis and Islamist terrorism, he added.

The study also showed that Czechs increasingly distrust one another. When asked the question of whether people can be trusted, the positive answer was only given by 23 percent of the respondents, which was the lowest figure throughout the time of the survey.

This proportion is considerably lower than in Western democracies, where the rate of interpersonal trust ranges at around 40 percent.

The head of the Institute of the Population Studies of the FSS MU, Ladislav Rabusic, said the results were alarming.

Interpersonal trust is important from the viewpoint of demographic functioning and social capital, which are vital for economic prosperity of a given society, Rabusic said.

The survey also examines the trust in institutions. Czechs trusted most such international institutions as the EU and the United Nations in 1999. Since then, the trust in them has been falling, with a big decline recorded especially between 2008 and 2017.

On the other hand, the trust in the military, police and the judiciary increased.

The researchers also examined the trust in the case of conspiracy theories and democratic arrangement.

Political analyst Roman Chytilek said the results were surprising.

As many as 41 percent of the respondents agreed with the view that official positions very often cover up the truth. The elderly and people with lower education tended to prefer conspiracy theories.

The trust in conspiracy differs according to voter preferences, Chytilek said.

The voters of the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), the Communists and Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO tend to believe conspiracy theories, while they are mostly rejected by the voters of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and TOP 09.

When it comes to the trust in political system, democracy won despite its flaws. The proportion of those believing in it has considerably increased since 2008. This may be due to the recent economic prosperity, Chytilek said.

The figures arise from a series of repeated polls conducted within the framework of the European comparative project European Values Study in the Czech Republic.

The poll is repeated after roughly nine years and the gained data then create time series.

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