ONE year before the arrival of the European single currency, citizens of Slovakia are mostly afraid of the possible hike in prices. The fear of price increases pushed the fear of unemployment to second place in the latest Eurobarometer for the first time since the spring of 2005. In autumn 2007, when the latest Eurobarometer was conducted, Slovak consumers faced the biggest price hike since 2001. On the contrary, the number of jobless people is gradually decreasing, the Pravda daily wrote.
"In spring 2005, less than one fifth of the respondents perceived increasing prices to be one of the most significant problems," said Ivan Kuhn, the author of the report on Slovakia. "Last year their number increased steeply to 33 percent." In comparison, roughly two years ago unemployment bothered 60 percent of citizens. In autumn 2007 this was only 30 percent. The health care system in the country was one of the most serious problems for 30 percent of the respondents. The economic situation worries Slovaks as well. Problems with crime closed the top five.
In general, nearly 70 percent of Slovak citizens are satisfied with life in Slovakia. But there has been a decrease in satisfaction for the first time since the country entered the European Union in 2004.
People view the future with less optimism. "Compared with the European average, Slovaks are less satisfied with their lives. The share of the respondents, who expect an improvement in their economic situation, has decreased significantly in comparison with the previous survey from the spring of 2007," said Kuhn.
While this share amounted to 40 percent of the respondents in spring 2007, only 29 percent of the respondents believed in better development in the autumn.
However, compared with neighbouring countries Slovak citizens are more optimistic. Poles follow with 28 percent believing that their situation will take a positive turn next year. In the Czech Republic only 18 percent of citizens have a positive mood and in Hungary only 13 percent.
"After the general elections in Slovakia, trust and expectation for better development opportunities increased. Those who did not vote for the winner, the Smer party, believed that the new government would not fulfil its pre-election promises. The steep decrease might not just be linked with exaggerated expectations, but also on the negative perception of changes made by the current government," Kuhn estimates.
After reports of record economic growth and decreased unemployment, people mistakenly expected that this would have a positive impact on them.
When evaluating the country over various sectors, the biggest gap in perception of welfare is between Slovakia and the average of 27 EU member countries. While as much as almost three quarters of Slovaks perceive welfare in Slovakia as very bad or rather bad, less than one half of the citizens in the whole union share this view.
The Eurobarometer survey took place on a sample of 1,162 respondents between September 26 and October 11. Within 27 EU member countries, 30,281 people participated.