NDI presents a consolidated report of public opinion research among young people in three countries of Central Europe: Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. This report includes polling, focus group research and analysis conducted earlier this year. NDI partnered with Political Capital (Hungary), the Institute of Public Affairs (Poland) and the Institute for Public Affairs (Slovakia) in conducting and analyzing the research.
The research findings offer complex views of youth sentiment:
- Young people in the three countries believe in democracy as a preferred system of governance, but despair over how democracy functions in reality, citing government corruption, fragmented parties and poor political representation. They eschew conventional forms of political activity, such as joining a political party, but are ready to take action on issues that affect them personally. They heavily rely on Facebook as a primary source of information, but do not use social media as the primary means for civic participation.
- Young people see their identity as layered. Most view their national, local and European identities as complementary, not conflicting. Many, however, feel that they are “ second-tier” European Union (EU) citizens, not benefiting from the same standards as their western neighbors. Most are very proud of their country, its history and traditions, but do not define their national identity through religion or ethnicity. At the same time, young people dismiss immigrants to their countries as a negative presence.
- Youth are cognizant of disinformation and other challenges to genuine political discourse. They differ by country in attributing disinformation to the Kremlin. Young people applaud much of the social change brought about through membership in the EU, but a notable portion of them see the EU as a threat to national sovereignty, even while championing their own European identity.