The academics wanted to know from the citizens the urgency with which certain problems need to be solved. A total of 71 percent of citizens consider it “very urgent” to deal with the collapse of public finances, for 63 percent it is equally important to ensure sufficient energy resources, 57 percent are worried about immigrants. The main parameters of public life must also change “very urgently”. For 62 percent it is necessary to intervene in the social sector, for 59 percent it is necessary to improve the functioning of the economy and the political situation.
“People are worried about what’s to come, whether it’s high energy prices or social security, and this is reflected in general demands for politics and the political system,” summarizes the findings of the survey, its author Milan Tuček.
“The urgency of the problems has increased sharply since the last survey in 2021,” adds the academic. 10-20 percent more people than the year before declared the demand to intervene quickly in important areas, and even a third of those surveyed in the case of energy.
The last time the CVVM recorded similar unrest was in 2013, when the Czech Republic, like today, had several years of crisis behind it. The year 2013 differs from this year in that, in addition to economic difficulties and the deficit of public finances, dissatisfaction was triggered by other concerns, namely concerns about unemployment and a high level of corruption. This does not fundamentally bother the majority of the population today.
Loss of confidence
Docent Tuček points out that the “urgency” of demands on politicians is not directly related to confidence in Petr Fiala’s government. Concerns are usually shared by supporters of both the governing and opposition parties, and a more significant difference can be seen only in the request to ensure social security, which is more often requested by opposition voters. According to the academician, however, the austerity package increased dissatisfaction. Although it does not directly threaten the incomes of any of the social groups, people fear that their previous fears will come true precisely as a result of the cuts.
At the same time, another of the CVVM surveys shows that the popularity of members of the government has also fallen sharply since its establishment two years ago, almost as deeply as in the times before the fall of Nečas’s cabinet. In 2013, confidence in none of the ministers reached more than twenty percent, with the exception of the head of diplomacy, Karl Schwarzenberg, who received support from the presidential campaign.
The ministers of no other government had a similarly bad report card in the CVVM surveys until this year. This time, only the pirate minister for local development, Ivan Bartoš, managed to stay above twenty percent.
According to Milan Tuček, the decline in the government’s popularity is also related to the expectations that the government parties created in the campaign before the last parliamentary elections. “Just two years ago, people associated all the difficulties with the effects of the covid pandemic, and it was therefore expected that the situation would turn for the better from the 2021 elections. However, this did not come true, on the contrary. The earlier trust in change is now reflected in the urgency of the demands,” says the expert.
The decline in the popularity of the ministers does not mean that the scenario of 2013 will be repeated. The social democratic cabinets of Miloš Zeman at the end of 1999 and Stanislav Gross five years later also had slightly less problems with public trust than the Nečas and Fial governments, but the government politicians managed to win over the voters in the elections back. Zeman started his cabinet by replacing eight ministers in a few months. In 2005, the ČSSD saved the situation when Prime Minister Gross was replaced by Jiří Paroubek.
In addition, the fact that the popularity of the government as a whole reached at least 25 percent in September speaks volumes for Petr Fiala. In contrast, only 15 percent of Czechs trusted the cabinet of Petr Nečas in the spring of 2013.