In comparison with solidarity and trust in society among the 27 EU states, the Czech Republic ranked tenth. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the reactions to the tornado that hit South Moravia in the summer, have shown that Czechs can come together and help in difficult times.
According to the results of a survey conducted by Česká spořitelna in cooperation with the analytical portal Evropa v data, 20 percent of the Czech population willingly volunteers, have almost always to turn to someone and are relatively satisfied with their lives compared to the rest of the Union.
However, while 84 percent of Czechs trust other people, confidence in the government and institutions generally lags. However, with the advent of the new cabinet, confidence in the government has jumped by 17 percentage points to 45 percent, which puts us in the top ten in the EU.
The Czechs have repeatedly proven that in the event of extraordinary events, such as natural disasters, they can come together very quickly and provide the necessary assistance both at home and abroad. We are simply used to helping. In this respect, we have overtaken not only Slovakia, but also Belgium or France, for example.
The ranking is led by the Nordic countries as a whole, which, thanks to charity, independence of the judiciary and the press, as well as minimal discrimination, have included Luxembourg. On the tail is the Balkan Peninsula, the last place belongs to Greece.
Immediate versus long-term help
On June 24, 2021, the inhabitants of the Břeclav and Hodonín regions were hit by an extreme storm of the second strongest level according to the Fujit scale. In a relatively small area, it caused damage worth 15 billion crowns, the tornado destroyed approximately 1,200 houses during its rampage, 200 of which had to be completely demolished.
The wave of aid and solidarity rose almost immediately. People immediately began not only sending financial donations, but also sat in their cars with the tools to put their hands to the work. Although this method of assistance cannot be quantified, financial assistance to the victims climbed to 1.3 billion crowns alone during the removal of the consequences of the extreme storm.
At the same time, according to the comparison of the World Giving Index, the Czechia is not doing very well in financial aid: only a quarter of the population sends money to charity, and we are in the eighth worst place in Europe.
“However, in obtaining data for the World Giving Index, researchers are asking about individual forms of assistance provided only in the past month. The Czechs are among the generous donors in the event of emergency assistance in situations such as natural disasters or the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, less so in the area of long-term and regular support. This is also confirmed by the results of a survey conducted for Česká spořitelna at the end of March by the Kantar agency. Almost 6 out of 10 Czechs stated that they provided assistance to refugees from Ukraine either in person (11%) or through non-profit organizations (46%). Within Central Europe, together with Austria and Hungary, we are one of the countries that contribute the most to the aid, ”explains Tereza Hrtúsová, an economic analyst at Česká spořitelna.
Every fifth Czech volunteers
“From experience, I would estimate that 15-20 percent of Czech adults donate to regular donations. But it is definitely changing for the better, because twenty years ago long-term donations practically did not exist in our country. The only things the Czechs were willing to contribute to a greater extent were the already mentioned catastrophes, “says Šimon Pánek, director of People in Need.
The Czechia is doing much better in the field of volunteering. Almost every fifth volunteer here, which puts the country in ninth place in the European comparison.
In the last month, 45 percent of the Czech population gave an imaginary helping hand to a foreign person. All three components of the World Giving Index are growing over time, so more Czechs are currently helping, donating and doing charitable activities than, for example, five years ago.
“Czech society is evolving for the better in many aspects, including the willingness to donate. It is also an example of how society as a whole feels and matures. She is willing to split up, she understands that solidarity and support for the weak is a question of the maturity of society, not an example of weakness. There have been significant shifts around debt issues, inclusion in education and a lot of social issues that have moved and are moving forward, “adds Šimon Pánek.
The last – and so far record – wave of aid rose when Russian troops attacked Ukraine on February 24. The unprecedented attack provoked strong reactions around the world. Even in the Czech Republic, help began immediately. According to the Seznam Zprávy server, the Czechs collected almost 3.4 billion crowns as of March 16 in public collections alone, and since then the aid has increased even more.
A loved one at your fingertips
The assessment of trust and solidarity in the Česká spořitelna survey consists of several sub-indicators. The Czechs achieved the highest score in the indicator of the availability of a close person in case of emergency. According to the World Happines Report, the European championship belongs to us in this respect; in short, the Czechs almost always have someone to turn to. For comparison – Germany ranks 7th in the overall assessment of solidarity in the EU, but from the point of view of a close person it has fallen to 22nd place.
“Generally speaking, the availability of services in the event of a person’s emergency is very good in our country. However, there are territorial differences and especially the situation outside larger cities is more complicated. Segmentally, it can be said that the situation is difficult in the area of health care for homeless people who are not registered anywhere and do not have health insurance, “points out Lukáš Curylo, director of Caritas Czech Republic.
As he adds, the Czechia needs to fundamentally improve areas such as execution or protection of socially weaker families and seniors, people with chronic mental illness, addiction or various types of dementia.
Integration versus discrimination
A fundamental aspect of solidarity is also the way in which the state and its citizens treat people from other countries or ethnic groups. Even in the areas of perceived discrimination and integration of migrants, Czechs are in the first half of the EU comparison. Discrimination is perceived as a problem by only 38 percent of Czechs, and while otherwise solidarity-based Nordic countries appear at the top of the rest of the index, they occupy positions at the tail of the table.
However, the key may be in the methodology of this indicator. The question that Eurobarometer respondents answered was: “How widespread do you perceive discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity in your country?” So this is the opinion of nationals, so the results may be slightly skewed.
However, the migration approach indicator is an item in which the Migrant Integration Policy Index researchers relied on hard data on the real environment and set policies in individual EU countries. The results of this metric affect human rights, job opportunities, the integration of immigrants into society, etc.
Also in this category, the Czechia finds itself in the first half of the comparison, only from eighth place it slipped to twelfth place. In this respect, it is very interesting to look at Sweden and Finland, which rank first and second in integration, while because of discrimination they are ranked 20 and 24. Greater openness of the state thus seems to lead to ethnic intolerance among citizens.
“Czechs are generally, at a basic level, an average tolerant nation. But because we have little experience with foreigners of different cultures, religions or skin colors, we are afraid of their arrival and integration, ”explains Nikola Hořejš, an analyst at the STEM Institute.
“This manifested itself during the migration crisis in 2015, when Czech public opinion was often dominated by panic from Islam. It was above all the fear of the new and the stranger. We also have not resolved our relationship with the Roma. Most companies see living with them as problematic and more than a third do not want them as neighbors. It is even more critical for Muslims. On the other hand, as an atheistic nation, we are tolerant of various esoteric teachings, Eastern religions, and Christian denominations. And also to homosexuals, “he adds.
84 percent of Czechs trust their neighbors, so we rely on generally good relations in society. Slovakia and Slovenia also achieve exactly the same result on the shared twelfth place. The Greeks, who trust people around them in only 66.4 percent of cases, fared the worst in the Union in this regard.
Purple’s government raises hope
What bothers the Czechia is little trust in the government. “In order to avoid skewing the data depending on the ruling party, we calculated this indicator as the average of the last ten years based on a regular European Eurobarometer poll,” explained Lukáš Kropík from Česká spořitelna.
The Czech Republic ranks twenty-one in European comparison – in general, less than 26 percent of the Czech population trusts the government. The Czechs reached the lowest values (only 13%) in the survey in 2012 and 2013 during the reign of Petr Nečas. The Czechia recorded the second lowest result at the beginning of Andrej Babiš’s first government in 2017.
With the advent of the current government, the situation has improved significantly. Between the summer of 2021 and the winter of 2022, the results jumped by 17 percentage points, and the Purple Government now trusts 45 percent of the Czech population, the highest number in ten years.
“Although the Czechs generally have little confidence in the institutions, the army gets high trust. According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, 86 percent of the population trusts it, which is the third highest share among EU countries. Confidence in the army has long been at a high level in the Czech Republic. The company perceives it very positively in situations such as natural disasters or military assistance in a coronavirus pandemic, “adds Tereza Hrtúsová, an analyst at Česká spořitelna.
Media crisis not only in the Czech Republic
The perception of corruption plays a major role in the overall perception of trust and the freedom associated with it. According to the respondents, the situation is worse than in the Czech Republic in only eight EU states. Corruption is almost no problem in Denmark or Finland, while in Eastern Europe (especially in Hungary and Bulgaria) the population is troubled. The situation around freedom of the press and courts is not much better in the Czech Republic either. In the list of Reporters Without Borders, the Czech media received 23.4 “penalty points” out of 100, which secured us 19th place in the EU. Only 51 percent of Czechs perceive the courts as independent, in this respect we have the 16th place.
“Apart from the general causes that the Czechia shares with the rest of Western civilization, such as the traditional media crisis, new media consumer habits or a decline in trust in journalists, there are specific causes,” explains Petr Orság, Head of the Department of Media and Communication Studies and Journalism at Palacky University. In Olomouc.
“In the last decade, it has been mainly an oligarchization of the Czech private media, ie the purchase of media houses by local billionaires not primarily for business reasons, but as a ‘strategic investment’ that expands their opportunities to influence public opinion.”
Petr Leyer, director of the Czech branch of Transparency International, perceives the situation in a similar way, who also mentions the effort to influence public service media: Many of them are either owned by certain influential groups and used, among other things, to promote their economic and political interests, or their ownership is not transparent, so we do not know who is behind them and what other interests and activities they have. “