Two-thirds of women and almost 60 percent of men are concerned that their freedoms could be restricted in the future.
In contrast, only less than six percent of people have no fear at all.
This is one of the most striking messages of the current survey on November 17, which was carried out by the STEM/MARK research agency among 511 respondents for the Freedom Festival at the end of October.
“I’m surprised that it’s not just the six percent that’s worried. Which can be a warning signal not only for political representatives, but also for greater analysis within the social debate,” said Jan Burianec, analyst and sociologist from STEM/MARK.
In general, the analyst describes that Czechs were afraid of their freedoms even in surveys that took place five or ten years ago, and this is related to the setting of society, which is more vigilant.
“There are growing concerns about where it all might end. It’s a healthy skepticism. We realize that we belong to the better part of the world, that we are doing well, objectively nothing is happening to us so far, and the fear can be all the greater,” concludes the sociologist from the results of the survey.
According to Jan Buriance, it is especially the source of fear that changes over time. Before the coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis, people were afraid of, for example, the lack of drinking water, terrorist attacks and migration. Currently, they refer to economic problems or the fact that the war conflict in Ukraine could get even closer to our territory.
Jan Gregar, the founder of the Freedom Festival, in turn talks about the fact that society will always face various populists, non-democrats, extremists or, recently, massive disinformation.
“Only a society that knows history and is civically active can deal with such challenges. This is the sustainability of our freedom and democracy, which we must fight for, as Masaryk said, every day,” he responds to the results of the survey.
The first part of the survey: Young people feel freer
Better healthcare and travel, worse housing
The survey also focused on what people perceive as the country’s biggest challenge in the coming years. Young people most often indicated budget, while older people indicated standard of living.
“People could associate several things with the term state budget, whether it was the state’s indebtedness or the current setting of the budget for next year, which is a media-friendly topic,” mentions Burianec.
At the same time, the sociologist perceives a certain social ferment here as well: Especially people who are worse off socio-economically, already feel that enough steps have been taken from the point of view of state indebtedness and financial consolidation, which are also at their expense.
The survey also reflected women’s opinion that the challenge for the future is to straighten rights. “They themselves probably feel that there are still wage inequalities between women and men, and there is often a glass ceiling for women,” says the sociologist.
More than half of the people in the survey said that life here is better than before 1989. The younger generations were more positive in their assessment. On the contrary, people between the ages of 45 and 64 deviated, where over 30 percent of them stated that they were worse off.
According to sociologist Lucie Vidović of the Center for Research on Aging (CERA) at the Department of Sociology at Masaryk University, this is actually the question that separates people who are successful in democracy and those who feel like losers.
According to her, the key thing remains that the majority of people from the older generation state that it is better here.
In general, people value the fact that after 1989 the possibilities of travel improved, as well as freedom of speech or the possibility to set the direction of politics and health care. On the contrary, they criticize the availability of housing, the price of goods or crime.
You can browse below for a complete overview of what people by age in the survey marked as better (it is the sum of the answers rather better and certainly better) and what is worse (a similar sum rather worse and certainly worse).
Jan Burianec explains the fact that the youngest age group of 15 to 29 years described the environment as worse than before 1989 by the greater importance of this topic for young people.
“More than other generations, they are worried about how our relationship with nature is developing. It’s probably a legitimate fear that it will affect them or their children,” the analyst claims.
How can you remember November 17th
Events associated with November 17 are organized by the Freedom Festival in more than 50 cities, as well as in smaller municipalities. For example, in Annín in the Pilsen Region or in Zubčica in the South Bohemian Region.
You can find the complete program of events, which are spread over several days and are not concentrated only on a holiday, on the website of the Festival of Freedom.
For example, the Prayer for Martha, which became a symbol of the Velvet Revolution, will be heard throughout the country. The nationwide happening will take place on November 17 at 5:11 p.m., when the song will be heard on the city’s radio stations.
Václav Havel’s new bench will be unveiled in Prague on Friday at 11:17 a.m., in Stodůlky at Bucharová street 2928/14a. A full-day program is also planned for Albertová, where, for example, from 2:00 p.m., there will be a debate on the topic “Velvet Divorce – Czechia and Slovakia after 30 years”.
Events will also take place all day on Korzu Národní, where live podcasts, debates, concerts, exhibitions, theater and Havel’s living room are planned.