A NEGATIVE mood prevails among Slovaks as it relates to social and political developments entering 2014, a year that will see presidential, European and municipal elections.


As many as 65 percent of respondents in a recent opinion poll said Slovak society is heading the wrong direction, compared to 29 percent saying they were happy with developments.


The poll, conducted in November 2013 by the non-governmental think tank Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) in cooperation with the Focus polling agency, revealed that the critical attitude towards society in the country prevails among Slovaks from all walks of life, regardless of their education, income, age, or sex, IVO analyst and sociologist Zora Bútorová told The Slovak Spectator about the results.


There are however significant regional differences, with the most optimistic citizens living in Trenčín Region, where 41 percent said they see the direction society is taking as favourable, compared to 53 percent of the opposite opinion. On the other hand, citizens of Nitra Region are the most pessimistic, with just 19 percent positive about society and 77 percent saying things are getting worse.


Significant differences in opinions were also noted based on the political preferences of the respondents. Supporters of the ruling Smer party tend to be more positive, with 53 percent saying they see developments as favourable. Meanwhile, supporters of opposition parliamentary parties are more critical, with around 75 percent negative about trends. The most discontented are supporters of the non-parliamentary Party of Hungarian Community (SMK), of whom 87 percent said they are pessimistic about social developments in Slovakia.


The negative mood on social developments remains at the levels of one year before, the research results show. While at the end of 2013 the number of discontented citizens reached 65 percent, at the end of 2012 it was at the same level. Still, the perception of the direction society is heading has worsened significantly compared with the end of 2008, when only 31 percent of respondents responded negatively, Bútorová noted.



Unhappy with Fico government




Citizens are generally not content with the work of the current government, the research suggested. Only 4 to 9 percent of respondents said they have noted an improvement in the 11 areas of state and social life since the Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government came to power in 2012.


The 11 topics the researchers asked about were job opportunities, the status of the self-employed and small enterprises, health care, state debt, corruption and cronyism, the judiciary, rule of law, education, the state of democracy, individual quality of life and relations between Roma and other citizens.


Respondents mainly perceive worsening in job opportunities, as 75 percent said the situation worsened in this area since 2012, according to Bútorová.


Other areas where opinions have soured since 2012 include the status of small enterprises (65 percent), health care (64 percent), state debt (63 percent) and corruption and cronyism in politics (62 percent).


In the judiciary, the rule of law and education, the perception of a decline prevails over perceived stagnation, while in the state of democracy, individual quality of life and Roma relations, around half of the respondents saw stagnation.


While supporters of Smer are generally less critical of the government, even a majority of Smer supporters feel the areas of job opportunities (59 percent), status of small enterprises (52 percent) and health care (53 percent) have gotten worse.