This is partly a sequel and a reboot of my previous post where I trudged through European Social Survey data on left/right splits on Czech attitudes towards Muslims and, like Sarah Conner in the first and best Terminator, generally looked confused as I tried to figure out what exactly the hell was going on.

To recap: less than half (44%) of Czechs surveyed in the 2014 ESS said they thought Muslims should be allowed to come and live in the Czech Republic (30% “a few”; 13% “some”; 2% many). Big differences by age and left/right self-identification. Confused me. Has caused me to spend more time this week with SPSS than I wanted.

Who’s left, who’s right?

Here’s the left-right scale from the ESS:

2016-09-19-19-41-40I’ve divided the scale up into five categories for this analysis:

  • Far left: 00 and 01
  • Left: 02, 03 and 04
  • Centre: 05
  • Right: 06, 07, 08
  • Far right: 09 and 10

There’s a pretty obvious pattern by age when it comes to left-right self-identification in the Czech Republic, with older respondents more likely to place themselves on the left – a pattern I wouldn’t be surprised to see in other former Eastern Bloc countries.

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These numbers are worth keeping in mind when you’re looking at the graphs below, since some of the groupings here (e.g., self-identified far right 65+ Czechs) are clearly just a handful of people.

The left, the right and everything in between

Remember, less than half (44%) of Czechs surveyed in the 2014 ESS said they thought Muslims should be allowed to come and live in the Czech Republic.

Take a look at the graph below, because I make a lot of graphs. These are the numbers that threw me for a loop when I first saw them – people who identify as far left are the least supportive of Muslims coming to the Czech Republic? And the right and far-right are most supportive? Well, survey says.

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Numbers don’t lie

…but they don’t always tell the whole story.

Remember from the table above that older Czechs are more likely to self-identify as far left/left. This also shows up when you look at the average age of each point on the left-right scale.

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But is it about being on the left or being older? To me, it does look like it’s at least partly about age. Older Czechs, without looking at left/right self-identification at all, are less likely to be supportive of Muslims coming to their country than younger respondents.

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But if it was all about age I’d expect to see a few different numbers and trends than I’m seeing here. The overall level of support is pretty similar among 15-19s, 20-24, 25-29s, 30-34s, and 40-44s (I don’t know and can’t explain what is going on with the 35-39s there). If this was all about young people being more socially liberal than their parents, etc., I wouldn’t expect figures for Czechs under twenty to be the same as Czechs as old as Jaromir Jagr.  Coupled with the fact that fewer than one in five Czechs from 15 to 19 placed themselves anywhere on the left of the scale, it makes me think there’s more going on here than some kind of cohort effect.

As evidence of this, here’s my final, behemoth graph.

While some of the sample sizes are a bit small, I think it’s clear from this that people who’ve placed themselves on the far left are less likely to be supportive of Muslims coming to live in their country, while the opposite is the case for people who’ve placed themselves on the far right. There’s even some difference between the closer-to-the-middle left and right for most age groups.

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Yes, the numbers are small. Open it in a new window.

I welcome any comments, questions or other interpretations of this data, though comments on the quality of my graph-making will be haughtily rebuffed.

Conclusions, questions, caveats an’ a’ that

My takeaway? Anyone worried about the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Czech Republic better look at more than just the usual suspects on the far right.

Yes, some of the numbers I’ve spat out here are about age/cohort effects like we see in other western countries, including my own, but this to me it looks to be more about being on the left/right than anything else. With Czech legislative elections coming within the next year and presidential elections in 2018, it’d be good to know a wee bit more about what exactly the deal is here.

But is this just a Czech thing? Is it related to current social democrat and anti-Muslim firebrand Miloš Zeman being in charge? Would we see this sort of thing if we looked at data from other central European and/or post-communist countries? Would we even see it if we looked at the Czech Republic with 2016 data? Would we see the same thing with different questions about Muslims, refugees, etc.? Could this be used as a wedge issue across ideological lines in a future Czechxit referendum? And so on.

The caveats from my last piece apply here – fieldwork from Nov 2014 to Feb 2015, other variables I haven’t even mentioned (like region), the fact I’m not Czech enough to immediately make sense of all this, a few small sample sizes, etc.

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