Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia believe democracy has serious problems in their countries, but they're optimistic about the future, pollsters said Tuesday.
The poll also revealed that the residents have highly negative feelings toward Jews and other minorities, particularly in Poland.Three prominent Eastern European pollsters surveyed 3,533 people - an approximately equal number in each of the three countries - for Freedom House, a human rights and public policy group, and the American Jewish Committee. The poll has a 2.8 percent margin of error.
The vast majority of those surveyed said their personal economic situation was the same or had become worse since free elections were held in the former communist-bloc countries.
Sixty percent of those surveyed in Hungary and 48 percent of those in Czechoslovakia thought their economic condition was worse, and 59 percent of those in Poland thought theirs was the same.
The economic situation in their individual countries seemed to heavily influence their feelings toward democratic reform, with 83 percent in Czechoslovakia believing it to be in trouble in their country, 69 percent in Hungary and 60 percent in Poland.
Nonetheless, 70 percent in Czechoslovakia thought things would get better, as did 59 percent in Poland and 49 percent in Hungary.
While noting that the people in his country appear more concerned, Hungarian pollster Endre Hann insisted that his countrymen are not pessimists, but rather, "realists."
An encouraging point, he said, is that an "absolute majority" of the younger generation favors free-market reforms.