Surveying some surveys: Czechs & refugees, immigrants and Islam

Surveying some surveys: Czechs & refugees, immigrants and Islam

I’ve been spurred on by what I guess we can call some, um, “colourful” comments on Coda Story’s recent animation of my January story on Islamophobia in the Czech Republic to take a look at some recent public opinion data.

“Unsympathetic” towards Arabs

The Czech Public Opinion Research Centre (CVVM) asked a few questions in their March 2017 survey of ~1,000 Czechs about attitudes towards people from different nationalities/ethnic groups, including Arabs (who I think we can agree in most Czech minds means “Muslims”). They’re right at the bottom.

C-Rc2rnWsAUGhNz

The numbers for Arabs look even worse over time….

arabove
Mean scores 1-5, where 1 is “very sympathetic” and 5 is “very unsympathetic.”

No other group has seen anything like this; as the CVVM’s summary report points out, the percentage of those saying they’re “very unsympathetic” (i.e., 5 on the 5-point scale) towards Arabs has gone up by 18 percentage points since 2014. Fortunately (?) that increase seems to have flatlined since 2016.

There’s also a few demographic differences of note in the CVVM’s summary report: 41% of those who declared a good standard of living said they were “very unsympathetic” towards Arabs compared to 55% who declared a poor standard of living; 36% of those with a higher level of education said they were “very unsympathetic” compared to 47% who had an apprenticeship. Still, it’s clear that a lack of sympathy towards Arabs is pretty strong among all parts of the Czech population.

Unfortunately the raw data set isn’t yet publicly available for me to screw around with so I took a look at the raw data from last year’s survey (March 2016) to see if there were any other differences of note that might (or might not) be seen in the 2017 data. There weren’t many:

  • Men had a slightly more negative score on average than women (4.26 compared to 4.15), and more likely to say they were “very unsympathetic” towards Arabs (49% compared to 44%)[both p< 0.1, which means it’s barely worth mentioning IMO but I’ve still done it so deal with it.]
  • Czechs aged 15-29 (41%) were less likely than those 45-59 (50%) or 60+ (50%) to say they were “very unsympathetic” towards Arabs [p< 0.05]

Fear of immigrants

CVVM also released some analysis yesterday from the March 2017 survey on attitudes towards foreigners in general – 64% of Czechs feel that newly-arrived immigrants are a problem for the Czech Republic as a whole. This figure’s shot up since last year, but had dipped from 2015 after a slow rise from 2011.

graf 2

CVVM also asked a few specific questions about the impact people think immigrants have on their country, and the results over time here have seen a drastic change. The belief that immigrants contribute to unemployment has dropped by 12% since 2016 (not that surprising in a country with low unemployment) and, as you can see below, the belief that immigrants are a threat to the Czech way of life has increased.

image (47)

A reason for those “Refugees not welcome” stickers I’ve seen

The most recent round of the Eurobarometer surveys (November 2016) asked a question of ~1,000 Czechs whether they think their country should help refugees. Czechs were the second most likely, behind Bulgaria, of any EU country to say their country shouldn’t help refugees (23% agree versus 72% disagree; EU average 66% agree versus 28% disagree).

Here, as with the CVVM surveys, there’s a few demographic breakdowns of note that I analyzed using the raw data:

  • Czechs who finished full-time education between the ages of 16 and 19 were less likely to agree the Czech Republic should help refugees (20%) compared to those who finished full-time education at 20 years old or older (31%)[p<0.01]
  • Czechs in rural areas (18%) were less likely than those in towns and suburbs (24%) and cities (28%) to agree the Czech Republic should help refugees [p<0.05]

Again, despite these differences, Czechs across all social divides tend not to think their country should help refugees…

Czech and Islam by the numbers, Parts 1 and 2

Last fall I analyzed European Social Survey (ESS) data from 2014 on Czech attitudes towards Muslims living in their country. Part 1, and Part 2.

If you’ve been following along nothing here will surprise you. Who doesn’t want any Muslims to come live in the Czech Republic (i.e., who’s less likely to want them)? Those who:

  • Feel unsafe after dark
  • Have the least contact with different races or ethnic groups
  • Feel the government treats new immigrants better than them
  • Distrust social/political institutions
  • Feel they have less ability to influence politics and have a say

Conversely, Czechs who had friends of different races and/or ethnic groups were more likely to be supportive of Muslims coming and living in the country.

On “First the journalists, then tanks and bombs”

On “First the journalists, then tanks and bombs”

OK, I’d seen this article and graph kicking around Twitter for a day or two before I finally looked at it, and I’m both glad and not glad I did.

14596705_4d6b2eaed9829d836f3bdd7b03ca9ba4_wm
This impressive-looking graph. You’ve seen it, right?

For anyone who hasn’t already seen it or (like I had) has given it only a cursory weekend glance,  the graph is based on an analysis done by Semantic Visions, “a risk assessment company based in Prague” who “conduct…big data (meaning non-structured, large data requiring serious calculations) analyses with the aid of open source intelligence, on the foundation of which they try to identify trends or risk factors.” They also use a “private Open Source Intelligence system, which is unique in its category and enables solutions to a new class of tasks to include geo-political analyses based on Big Data from the Internet.”

OK, cool.

The gist in this case: Semantic Visions had algorithms read hundreds of thousands of online sources, including 22,000 Russian ones,  searching for different trends.

OK…though as someone who chose to suffer through a media content analysis as a thesis for some reason I have a number of methodology-related questions I don’t want to harp too much on (e.g., how is the algorithm actually designed to determine positive/negative stories vis-à-vis a human? how were the online sources chosen? etc.). A little transparency here would go a long way, proprietary nature of the algorithms notwithstanding.

What gets me is the conclusion they’ve drawn based on the data they’ve gathered and present here in this article.

The article says “the number of Russian articles with a negative tone on Ukraine [from February 2012] started to show a gradual and trend-like increase – while no similar trend can be found in English-language media.”

Yes, your data does show that. Got no problem there.

But it’s this (my emphasis in bold):

“Therefore, based on hundreds of millions of articles the possibility that the actual events in Ukraine could themselves be the reason for the increasing combativeness of Russian-language articles can be excluded. Moreover, the strongly pro-Russian President Yanukovych was still in government at the time and the similarly Eastern-oriented Party of Regions was in power. The explanation is something else: the Putin administration was consciously preparing for military intervention and the Kremlin’s information war against Ukraine started two years before the annexation of Crimea to turn Russian public opinion against Ukrainians…”

How can someone possibly draw that conclusion based solely on the numbers presented here?? Are you privy to other data or pieces of analyses that aren’t public? Because, based on the data that’s presented here, I see absolutely no justification for the conclusion that the Kremlin “was consciously preparing for military intervention.”

Consider:

  • A big part of the explanation for any apparent increase in negative coverage would be the EU Association Agreement being initialed in March 2012, right?
  • Why start the analysis at June 2011? I’d want to see the tone of coverage compared to the last bit of Yushchenko’s presidency through the beginning of Yanukovych’s – maybe the increase over 2012-2013 isn’t so much an increase as a return to “normal” negative coverage of Ukraine.
  • (OK, I lied about no more methodology questions) What about positive stories? Were negative stories about Ukraine taking up a greater share of overall coverage, or did the overall number of articles itself increase? Not being transparent on methodological nerdish issues like this really, really doesn’t help, guys.

Please – no more divining of Kremlinological intentions from incomplete, unclear sets of numbers.

Czechs and Islam by the numbers, Part 2

Czechs and Islam by the numbers, Part 2

As promised to my legions of readers, some more stats and fancy graphs breaking down what Czechs think about Islam using European Social Survey data (2014).

(Lack of) trust

Respondents were asked three questions about how much they trusted the people around them, screenshotted here to save me from having to explain it.

trust-q

People who said they didn’t want any Muslims to be allowed to come live in Czechia scored lower on average on all three questions – in other words, they were less trusting in general and more cynical of peoples’ intentions than Czechs who wanted to let Muslims to come live in the country.

image-27
“Social trust” might not be the best descriptor here, but you know what I mean.

This distrust extends to institutions – across all seven ‘trust in institutions’ questions (the same 0 – 10 scale, where 0 is ‘no trust at all’ and 10 is ‘complete trust’), people who didn’t want any Muslims were significantly less trusting of every social and political institution they were asked about.

image-25

“If I thought I’d make a difference..”

Respondents were also asked a series of question about political efficacy, the belief that one has the ability to influence politics and political affairs.  Again, questions screenshotted here.

eff-q1

eff-q2

You can probably guess what the trend is here before you see it – people who don’t want Muslims in Czechia feel they have less ability to influence politics and have a say (i.e., they feel less efficacious, for anyone who actually likes that word).

image-26

Čas na party?

The most interesting of these breakdowns, in my opinion…

For reference, the popular vote percentages and seat breakdowns from the last Czech parliamentary election in October 2013 (descriptors of each party are in the graph itself):

  • CSSD: 20.5%, 50 seats
  • ANO 2011: 18.7%, 47 seats
  • KSCM: 14.9%, 33 seats
  • TOP 09: 12.0%, 26 seats
  • ODS: 7.7%, 16 seats
  • Usvit: 6.9%, 14 seats
  • KDU-CSL: 6.8%, 14 seats

The findings? Supporters of the (now split up) far right populist/Eurosceptic movement under Tomio Okamura were the least in favour of allowing Muslims to come and live in Czechia (71% ‘no Muslims’), which isn’t a shock for a Front National-aligned movement.

But it’s who they’re followed by that’s most interesting to me. Supporters of the two most left-wing parties in Czechia – the Communists (63%) and the Social Democrats (59%), the largest party in the Czech parliament – were more likely than all but the far-right to be opposed to letting Muslims come and live in the country.

image-28

As a side note, these are also the parties that tend to be the most pro-Russian. Hmm.

Observations, qualifications, etc.

There’s a lot more that I can dig into here re: the predictors of not wanting Muslims in Czechia. Some of it, as I discussed a few weeks ago, is likely down to age (e.g., supporters of the Communists tend to be older than supporters of other parties). Some of it could be regional, some could be related to education or income, and some still could be related to factors I need to plug into a logistic regression model…

Czechs and Islam by the numbers, Part 1

Czechs and Islam by the numbers, Part 1

Today I took a look at some numbers from my favourite data source right now (maybe a bit odd for a Canadian) – the most recent wave of the European Social Survey (ESS 2014).

I want to know more about what people think about Muslims in central and eastern Europe, and why. Fortunately there’s one question in the ESS that specifically asks people what they think of Muslims:

q-re-immigrants

 

Only 44% of Czechs feel that a few, some or many Muslims should be allowed to come and live in their country – the lowest among all countries surveyed. I want to try and shed a bit more light on why this is the case and help us non-central/eastern-Europeans stop blaming these kinds of attitudes on some simplistic kind of eastern backwardness.

I’ve given minimal interpretation/commentary – yours are welcome.

 

Unsafe after dark

Czechs who feel unsafe after dark tend to be the least likely to want to allow Muslims to come and live in Czechia (yes, I’m finally calling it that).

image-23
For reference on the sizes of these groups: most Czechs felt safe (63.4%) or very safe (12.3%), while one-quarter felt unsafe (21.4% ‘unsafe’; 3.0% ‘very unsafe’)

Interestingly, a related question – whether you or a family member has been a victim of a theft or robbery in the last five years – showed no relationship at all.

Time to get to know your neighbours?

While Czechs who have at least some contact with a member of a different race or ethnic group tend to be pretty evenly split, Czechs who have the least contact with different races or ethnic groups tend to be much less likely to want to allow Muslims into the country.

image-22
‘Never’: 20.5% of all Czech respondents / ‘Less than once a month’: 16.0%

I touched on this in a post a few months ago on attitudes towards IDPs in Ukraine; the more contact people had with IDPs, the more positive their attitudes were towards them. The same goes for attitudes towards Muslims in the US and towards immigrants in general in the UK – familiarity really doesn’t breed contempt.

…and time to make some more friends?

People who had friends of different races and/or ethnic groups were more likely to be supportive of Muslims coming and living in Czechia compared to those who had none (no friends from a different race/ethnic group, not no friends at all [which the ESS does actually ask about]).

image-20
Most respondents (71.8%) weren’t friends with anyone from a different race/ethnic group (in fairness, not overly surprising in a country ~95% Czech). Still, 24.3% were friends with “a few” and 3.9% friends with “several.”

Again, this seems at least partly about familiarity not breeding contempt.

Immigants, I knew it was them!

Czechs who think the government treats new immigrants better than them are much more likely to feel no Muslims should be allowed to come and live in Czechia.

image-21

Overall numbers: 7.2% ‘much better,’ 27.0% ‘a little better,’ 52.6% ‘the same,’ 12.1% ‘a little worse’ and 1.2% ‘much worse’ (i.e., most Czechs don’t think immigrants get treated better – but a lot do)

Part 2 will come in a day or two with a look at some stats on political efficacy, (lack of) trust in governments and people and party affiliation.

Again, interpretations and such welcome.

Czech Republic, Muslims and the left, Part 1 ½

Czech Republic, Muslims and the left, Part 1 ½

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.

image-6

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.

Czech Republic, Muslims and…the left?

Czech Republic, Muslims and…the left?

Earlier this month the European Values Think-Tank in Prague (or Think-tank Evropské hodnoty for the more Slavistically-oriented among you) released findings from a survey on the impact of Russian disinformation operations in the Czech Republic. It’s a worth a read, as is their paper on how and why Russia’s taken such an interest in influencing Czech affairs and why us non-Czechs should actually care.

But what grabbed my attention was a survey question on perceived threats to the Czech Republic (page 8 for anyone following along at home):

Which threats are currently the most serious for our country? List three threats at most, please.

The top three most commonly-mentioned threats?

  1. Refugees: 50%
  2. Terrorism, attacks, assassinations: 42%
  3. Islamic fundamentalism: 21%

Keep in mind the Czech Republic is a country that might have as many as 3,500 Muslims out of a population of more than 10 million (i.e., 0.03% of the population) where a grand total of 134 Syrians applied for asylum last year, according to the UNHCR. It’s a country where you’re more likely to see some dumbass fake ISIS attack/“protest” from a gaggle of far-right clowns than, say, an actual Muslim.

Czeching the data (yes, a “Czech” pun)

To try and understand more about what Czechs think of Muslims, I looked at data from the 2014 version of the European Social Survey, where they asked more than 2,100 Czechs:

please tell me to what extent you think the Czech Republic should allow Muslims from other countries to come and live in the Czech Republic? 

  • Allow many to come and live here
  • Allow some
  • Allow a few
  • Allow none

More than half – 56% – said that no Muslims should be allowed to come and live in the Czech Republic. Less than a third (30%) said “a few” Muslims should be allowed, 13% said “some” and 2% said “many,” for a total of 44%.

  • Allow many to come and live here: 2%
  • Allow some: 13%
  • Allow a few: 30%
  • Allow none: 56%

This isn’t surprising, especially given the data from the European Values Think-Tank and what we already know about Czech politics and President Miloš Zeman’s not-exactly-subtle hostility to Islam and refugees.

Left foot forward?

But Czechs on the left seem to be the least willing to welcome Muslims.

Czechs who told ESS interviewers they voted for the Communists (KSČM) in the last election were more likely than voters of all other parties – 64% versus 52% – to say that no Muslims should be allowed to live in the Czech Republic.

Looking at the parties individually, only supporters of Tomio Okamura’s Front National-linked far right movement were more likely (71%) to say this. Even supporters of the governing centre-left social democrats (ČSSD) were more likely (59%) than members of other centrist/right-wing parties to say that no Muslims should be allowed to live in the Czech Republic.

The ESS also asks people to rank themselves on an 11-point left-right scale (below), which is where things get even more interesting.

2016-09-19-19-41-40

The mean left-right score for those wanting to allow “many,” “some” or “a few” Muslims (5.43) is higher – meaning further to the right – than those who don’t think any Muslims should be allowed in (4.73).

This still boggled my mind so I broke the left-right scale up into a few different permutations to see if this relationship held up:

  • 3 categories
    • Break the left 4 into a ‘left’ category, the middle as its own mushy ‘centre’ and the final four as a ‘right’ category.
      • Left: 63% allow no Muslims
      • Centre: 61%
      • Right: 46%
  • 5 categories
    • Break the left 2 into a ‘far left’ category, the next three as ‘left’, the middle as its own mushy ‘centre,’ the next three as ‘right’ and the final two as a ‘far right’ category.
      • Far left: 77% allow no Muslims
      • Left: 59%
      • Centre: 61%
      • Right: 48%
      • Far right 41%
  • 5 categories, a bit different
    • Break the left one into a ‘far left’ category, the next four as ‘left’, the middle as its own mushy ‘centre,’ the next four as ‘right’ and the final one as a ‘far right’ category. I wanted to try this to isolate that far left/right to each endpoint of the scale.
      • Far left: 81% allow no Muslims
      • Left: 60%
      • Centre: 61%
      • Right: 47%
      • Far right 42%

This totally blows my mind – it looks like the more one identifies to the left, the more likely they are to not support Muslims being allowed to come and live in the Czech Republic.

What’s my age again?

I’ve lost my mind in enough SPSS data tables to know that when a totally counterintuitive finding like this pops up there’s often something else that actually explains it.

Is it age? It could be, given that there’s also a clear relationship between age and (lack of) support for allowing Muslims to come and live in the Czech Republic (case in point: many/some/few Muslims? Mean age 43.1 years. No Muslims? Mean age 46.3 years).

I thought this might be the case, especially when I realized that KSČM supporters tended to be much older than supporters of other parties (a mean age of 60.8 years compared to 47.8 years for all other parties combined). This relationship also holds true for the left-right scale – the average age of those identifying on the left was higher than those identifying themselves on the right:

  • 3 categories
    • Break the left 4 into a ‘left’ category, the middle as its own mushy ‘centre’ and the final four as a ‘right’ category.
      • Left: mean age 52.2 years
      • Centre: 44 years
      • Right: 41 years
  • 5 categories
    • Break the left 2 into a ‘far left’ category, the next three as ‘left’, the middle as its own mushy ‘centre,’ the next three as ‘right’ and the final two as a ‘far right’ category.
      • Far left: mean age 54 years
      • Left: 51.7 years
      • Centre: 44 years
      • Right: 41.6 years
      • Far right 38.4 years
  • 5 categories, a bit different
    • Break the left one into a ‘far left’ category, the next four as ‘left’, the middle as its own mushy ‘centre,’ the next four as ‘right’ and the final one as a ‘far right’ category. I wanted to try this to isolate that far left/right to each endpoint of the scale.
      • Far left: mean age 56.1 years
      • Left: 51.6 years
      • Centre: 44 years
      • Right: 41.1 years
      • Far right 39.7 years

So which is it?

I ran a quick logistic regression analysis to see whether age or placement on the left-right scale was a more accurate predictor of one’s support for allowing “many,” “some” or “a few” Muslims into the Czech Republic.

In short, I found that the placement on the left-right scale (that is, identifying more to the right) was a slightly stronger predictor of supporting allowing Muslims into the Czech Republic than age (that is, being younger).

In other words, it’s more about being on the left than being old.

Caveats:

  • I ran this over a few hours in a basement in a pair of ill-fitting sweatpants, so do hold it up to that standard.
  • This data is from fieldwork done between November 2014 and February 2015 – before the refugee crisis really turned sour.
  • There are many, many other variables I need to look at before drawing some sort of iron-clad conclusion on this. Some I’ve looked at but not ranted on about here (e.g., gender, region, socio-economic status, etc.).
  • I’m no expert on Czech politics, history, society and/or political culture, which is why I’ve really drawn no conclusion here other than “shit, this is interesting!”
  • If you’ve read this far, ask me about your prize.