Terrorism, migration overtake unemployment as biggest concerns for Czechs

Terrorism, migration overtake unemployment as biggest concerns for Czechs
By Henry Kirby in London January 15, 2016

Terrorism and migration have overtaken unemployment and the standard of living as the two biggest concerns among Czechs, according to a poll recently published by Prague-based Public Opinion Research Centre (CVVM).

The survey, first conducted in 2010 and again in 2015, asked respondents to name their two biggest concerns. Today, 36% of respondents put terrorism as a concern and 31% migration, up from 5% and 0% in 2010, respectively.

That migration did not even register in the 2010 study is illustrative of the speed of the issue’s ascent to the top of the public agenda in the Czech Republic, a result of the ongoing Syrian migrant crisis that has seen nearly 4.4mn Syrians flee their country, according the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Despite the evident concern among Czechs regarding migrants, the Czech Republic itself currently plays host to a far lower number of migrants than many of its neighbours. According to UNHCR data, just over 5,000 asylum seekers and refugees currently reside in the Czech Republic, or 0.05% of the country’s total population. In Germany that figure is 0.7% of the population, or over half a million people.

The Czech Republic has come under fire recently, along with other Central European nations such as Slovakia and Hungary, for its handling of the refugee crisis, with recent reports of mistreatment of arriving migrants just one example of a region struggling to adapt to the crisis.

Czech President Milos Zeman was also criticized this month for his strongly anti-immigrant rhetoric, after describing the influx of migrants to the EU as “an organised invasion” by the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a separate survey published by CVVM, measuring what Czechs consider to be a genuine threat to the nation, terrorism again came top, with 97% of respondents citing it as posing some degree of threat. The second biggest perceived threat was international organised crime at 94%, followed by refugees at 93% and radical religious movements at 86%.

In line with concerns surrounding migrants, the two states that Czechs perceived as the biggest threats to the country were the self-styled Islamic State and Syria, with 34,5% and 20.2%, respectively, of Czechs naming them. The third most threatening state at 17%, and only slightly behind Syria, was Russia.