Saturday, May 30, 2009

Latest European survey, just ahead of the EU elections

There are some interesting results from a survey in the 27 countries of the European Union, just published but done between March 25 and April 15, 2009:

* Respondents considered the following criteria the most favourable when considering voting for candidates for the European Parliament: a full 30% thought it most important that candidates would work full-time on their role as EuroMPs; 21% thought the critical factor was "experience in European issues"; 20% thought the most important thing was "on the ground contact with the electorate"; by contrast, only 14% thought that experience of national politics was important, and only 6% thought that being "well known in the media" mattered

* 68% would support the introduction of further limits on CO2 emissions from cars in order to protect the environment, while only 23% would oppose it

* only 31% prefer more being spent on supporting individuals, while 62% would support spending more money on creating new companies; similarly 65% would support increased aid to European enterprises - interesting, considering that supporting individuals would be egalitarian, while helping companies is both inegalitarian (it would help certain individuals and groups) and falls into the category of state intervention in the economy as well as of trade-distorting subsidies which are forbidden by the WTO agreement

* only 28% would support strengthening immigration controls (at least when given a choice between that and investing in increasing investments and helping companies to create employment)

* In order to communicate their opinions to politicians, here are the percentages of people who thought that the following were key: voting 46%, taking part in debates with politicians 20%, signing petitions 14%, joining a political party TIED WITH expressing your views on a blog or internet forum - 13% each. Joining a trade union was favoured by 10%. Worryingly, 11% favoured taking part in a demonstration, 7% favoured striking, and 4% preferred "other more radical methods, like obstructing economic activities or means of transport" (respondents could choose two options for this question, not just one)

* 49% preferred televised debates between leaders of the different NATIONAL political parties, while only 29% preferred EUROPE-WIDE televised debates dubbed in the different languages; the latter option came marginally ahead of the desire for a website bringing together information on the elections, candidates and programmes (28%). Surprisingly, only 18% favoured public debates between candidates LOCALLY; this was as unpopular (also 18%) as election spots on TV or radio presenting the programmes of the different parties/ candidates (respondents could choose two options for this question, not just one)

* 41% would increase spending on education and training, while only 7% would reduce it; 31% would increase spending on economic growth, while 9% would reduce it; 27% would increase spending on social affairs and employment, while 11% would decrease it; 26% would increase spending on public health, while 9% would reduce it; 23% would increase spending on climate change and protecting the environment, while 10% would reduce it ((respondents could choose two options for this question, not just one)

* Stunningly, for one of the richest parts of the world, only 8% would increase spending on defence and security, while 35% would decrease it (do they really know what the result would be?)

* 16% would increase support for agriculture and rural development, while 14% would reduce it

* only 3% would increase aid to countries neighbouring the EU while 33% would reduce it (is this a sign of increasing selfishness/ protectionism? what does this say for EU expansion?)

* Disappointingly, when people already know how important the European institutions are (in that they override national institutions), only 11% said they were "very interested" in the elections, those who said they were "fairly interested" tied with those who said they were "not very interested" (35% each), while 18% said they were "not at all interested". On balance, then, a win by 7% for "not interested". A sad comment on European interest in democratic processes.

* Astonishing, particularly in view of 56% who consider the EU "more of an opportunity"; while only 17% consider it "more of a threat", and only 20% consider it "neither one nor the other".

Here is the profile of the respondents:
- 52% female, 48% male
- 36% between 35 & 54, 35% above 55, 17% between 25 & 34, and 11% between 18 & 24
- educated up to the age of: (20+) 33%, (16-19) 41%, and (15 or less) 17%; 7% were still studying
- 34% employees (including managers/ supervisors), 25% retired, 12% manual workers, 8% self-employed, 7% unemployed, 7% students, and 7% "Other".

All in all, with 15,130 respondents, this is probably as representative of the EU as we are likely to get at least this side of the elections.

The survey was carried out by TNS Opinion on behalf of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, together with the Centre for European Studies, with the contribution of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Fondation Robert Schuman, using face-to-face or telephone methodology depending on the country. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: