Democracy through the eyes of Slovak people
According to the latest data from the European Social Survey (ESS), 88% of people in Slovakia consider it important to live in a country that is democratically governed. This is reflected in the average country response to the question "How important is it for you to live in a democratically governed country", which is just below the average of the ten participating countries (see Figure 1). Statistically higher importance of democracy, compared to Slovaks, was expressed by Finns, Estonians and French, on the contrary, for Czech respondents it is less important. Slovak responses to the question "To what extent are you satisfied with the way democracy works in your country?" are, however, slightly more negative. The Slovaks are ranked third from the bottom, ahead of the Bulgarians and the Croatians (Figure 2).
According to almost a third of Slovaks (30.7%), free and fair elections are the most important for democracy, and they also rated this statement as relevant to Slovakia (see Figure 3). 21.8% of respondents chose as most important for democracy that " Citizens have the final say on political issues by voting directly in referendums". Similarly, almost 17% of respondents consider it most important for democracy that "The government protects all citizens against poverty" and that "The views of ordinary people prevail over the views of the political elite". The lowest percentage (14.2%) of respondents chose the option "The courts treat everyone the same". According to the respondents, the above mentioned statements are rather not related to Slovakia, as they rated them in the negative part of the answer scale. According to the respondents, the statement that "The views of ordinary people prevail over the views of the political elite" is the least relevant to Slovakia (Figure 3). However, if the views of the government and the people differ, as many as 63.3% of the respondents think that "The government should change its policies in response to what most people think". 26.5% of the respondents said that it "depends on the circumstances" and 10.2% of the respondents leaned towards the answer that "The government should stick to its policies regardless of what most people think".
Data from the European Social Survey confirm the importance of democracy for Slovaks. On the other hand, they point to areas that are important for democracy but, according to the ESS respondents, are not sufficiently fulfilled in our country.
The data from the 10th round of the European Social Survey are available for download here.
European Research Infrastructure (ESS ERIC). (2022). ESS20 - integrated file, edition 1.2 [Data set]. Sikt - Norwegian Agency for Shared Services in Education and Research. https://doi.org/10.21338/ESS10E01
Prepared by: Ivana Piterová, Institute of Social Sciences CSPS SAS