Macedonians were the most active citizens in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, a Eurostat study shows, although activity in the country still fell below the average across the EU28.
The study, which uses 2015 data, looks at the percentage of the adult population which said they had attended meetings, signed petitions, or otherwise participated in activities related to political groups, associations or parties.
The results showed that political activity was dramatically higher in Western Europe than in the east. Across the countries studied — the EU28 plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and candidate countries Macedonia and Serbia — the Swiss revealed themselves to be the most active, with 26.6% saying they had been involved in some kind of political activity during the year. Switzerland was followed by France (24.6%), Sweden (22.1%) and the Netherlands (24.6%), and the top 12 places on the table were all occupied by West European countries.
Macedonia was in 14th place, with 9.8% of its citizens saying they had been politically active, which was below the EU28 average of 11.9%.
2015 saw mass protests in Macedonia against the former government led by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party after a leaked dossier revealed high-level corruption and wiretapping of thousands of the country’s citizens. The political crisis that started in early 2015 was followed by more than a year of unrest, leading eventually to the formation of a new government in May this year.
Macedonia and Estonia (ranked two places lower) were the outliers from CEE, with most countries from the region closer to the bottom of the ranking.
Cypriots were the least politically active, with just 2.1% participating in politics, followed by Slovakia (2.8%), Romania (3.6%), Bulgaria (3.7%) and Serbia (3.9%).
The situation has likely changed since then at least in Romania, where at the beginning of this year hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the biggest protests since the fall of communism. 500,000 people turned out on a single day, as protesters managed to force the government to back down over plans to weaken anti-corruption legislation,
Meanwhile, the Eurostat data also reported significant differences within countries, with those with a higher higher level of education tending to be more active. 20.8% of EU citizens with a tertiary education said they participated in activities related to active citizenship, compared to just 5.6% of those with the lowest education levels. People with higher incomes also tended to be more active citizens.
Men tended to be slightly more active than women, although the opposite was true in most Scandinavian countries.