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Majority of Poles and Hungarians don’t see their country as democratic, new study shows

Warsaw, Poland – A majority of Poles and Hungarians do not see their respective countries as democratic, a new study has shown.

According to the Democracy Perception Index (DPI), published last month and based on surveys conducted in 53 countries around the world from April to June, only a minority of Poles (38%) and Hungarians (36%) believe their countries are democratic.

At the same time, a vast majority of the population in both countries declared that “democracy is important” (86% in Poland and 78% in Hungary).

The “perceived democratic deficit” (difference between the % of people saying democracy is important and % of people saying their country is democratic) reaches its second and third highest levels among surveyed countries (48 points in Poland and 42 in Hungary).

Only Venezuela (50 points difference) has a higher perceived deficit, while the lowest scores were found in Taiwan, the Philippines and Switzerland.

Some 64% of Poles and 62% of Hungarians said they believed their government “usually acts in the interest of a small group of people”, both rates ranking among the highest from countries taken into account in the study, and the second and third highest among EU countries (Romania comes first with 66%).

Interestingly, both Hungary (39%) and Poland (40%) recorded among the lowest rates when pollsters asked whether they feared interference from a foreign power would likely influence their next elections. Only China (26%) and Russia (31%) showed lower scores in that category.

When asked about their country’s response to COVID-19, a majority of Poles (57%) and Hungarians (63%) rated their government’s response positively, although both rates remain below the average of surveyed countries (worldwide, 70% of respondents said their government answered well to the coronavirus crisis).

According to the latest Freedom House annual report, while Poland has left the consolidated democracies group and become a semi-consolidated democracy, Hungary left the category of democracies altogether to become a transitional/hybrid regime.

For additional results, you can see the full study here.

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