Poles lead cheers for end of Communism, Hungarians lament

By bne IntelliNews March 21, 2014

bne -

Poles and Czechs are happiest with the collapse of Communism and the way things have gone in the two-and-a-half decades or so since. Few in 1989, however, would have expected Hungarians to be rueing the change quite so deeply.

Overall, 71% of Poles evaluate the system change positively, according to a survey taken in February by the Central European Opinion Research Group. In the Czech Republic the number came in at 63%, while Slovaks were less convinced at 56%.

However, less than half of Hungarians - 48% - are happy with the switch. That may be a reflection of the fact that the country's Communist authorities had been softening restrictions for some time ahead of 1989, which saw Hungary first out of the gate when it came to investment and economic development once the shackles were off. It's also likely a result of the economic basket case that successive governments have managed to produce out of that early promise.

Some 39% of Poles said the change of the system was definitely beneficial. On the other hand, only 25% of Czechs were so certain. Overall, at 38%, they preferred to describe the change as "rather beneficial". The Slovak results were even more circumspect, with just 19% sure of the benefits; but again Hungarians lagged, with no more than 12% clear that the 1989 changeover was a positive.

The same pattern is seen when people are asked about the changes since. Poles are the most optimistic with 45% seeing them as beneficial. In the Czech Republic, 37% share that view. Twenty-seven percent of both Slovaks and Hungarians agree, but while 33% of Slovaks suggest there have been more losses than benefits, a whopping 42% of Hungarians see their glass half full.

"The scepticism of the developments after 1989 grows along with the falling living standards, income and education and rising age," the study notes.

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