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4 June 2015

Respondent evaluations of the present economic situation in Central and Eastern Europe - CEORG 'barometer', January 2014-January 2015

The Central European Opinion Research Group (CEORG), is a research foundation consisting of four major public opinion research institutes located in: the Czech Republic (Centrum pro výzkum veøejného mínìní, CVVM), Hungary (Társadalomkutatási Intézet, TÁRKI), Slovakia (FÓRUM inštitút) and Poland (Centrum Badania Opinii Spolecznej, CBOS).
On the basis of its regular monthly omnibuses as well as special surveys, and in co-operation with analysts and opinion leaders in Central European countries, CEORG aspires to become the 'barometer' of Central European public opinions on issues relating to economy and society.

In January 2015 the four research institutes repeated a block of questions on economic complacency.

Figure 1 shows a summary of answers to the question: How do you evaluate the present economic situation in [country]?
Figure 1.: How do you evaluate the present economic situation in [country]? (%)
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In the Czech Republic the trend observed in the last half year has continued, with public opinion still leaning in a positive direction. Slovak data do not show major changes, only the proportion of the moderately satisfied respondents has increased slightly from January 2014. In contrast, in Poland and Hungary public opinion on the economic situation has turned negative; in Poland, the proportion of respondents satisfied with the economic situation increased in the last year. In the case of Hungary a definitely negative change can be observed: among Hungarians, the proportion of those satisfied with the economic situation almost halved.

Regarding future expectations, Figure 2 shows the distribution of answers to the following question: Do you think that, during the next year, the economic situation will get better, stay the same, or get worse? Out of the four countries, the proportion of those anticipating improvement in the next twelve months increased only in the Czech Republic. In Hungary, the proportion of those who believe that in the future there will be better economic conditions consistently and sharply reduced whereas the proportion of those expecting a worsened economic situation sharply increased. At the same time, the proportion of "Don't know" respondents and those who expect no change, greatly reduced in the last year, compared to July 2014.

Figure 2.: Do you think that, during the next year, the economic situation will get better, stay the same, or get worse? (%)
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Pertaining specifically to the Hungarian questionnaire, examining the answers related to the current economic situation and those related to future expectations, respondents who consider the current economic situation good and expect improvement or at least no change were classified as being optimistic. Those, who do not see the current situation being either good or bad, but expect to see improvement belong to the optimistic group as well. The group of those who think that the current economic situation is "fair" and do not expect any change were put in the "neutral" category. Other opinions are considered to be pessimistic. It can be seen that in Hungary, compared to January 2014, the number of those who are optimistic regarding the economic situation has been drastically reduced and the proportion of pessimists increased (Figure 3).

Figure 3.: Proportion of the pessimistic, neutral and optimistic respondents in Hungary (%)
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Results disaggregated by subgroups including level of education, showed interesting cleavages in opinions about the future. While only half of the respondents with secondary or higher level of education belonged to the group of pessimists, more than two-thirds consisted of respondents withlower levels of education.(Figure 4).

Figure 4.: Proportion of the pessimistic, neutral and optimistic respondents in Hungary by level of education (%)
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Subsetting by party preferences (Figure 5), Fidesz sympathizers are seem to be the most optimistic, and among them the neutral opinion ratio is high as well. All other voter groups, especially Jobbik and MSZP voters are much more pessimistic.

Figure 5.: Proportion of the pessimistic, neutral and optimistic respondents in Hungary by party preferences (%)
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Blanka Szeitl (TÁRKI)