IRI Macedonia Poll: Citizens Growing More Skeptical about Economic Prospects
A new poll released by IRI fonds that citizens of Macedonia are increasingly worried about the state of their economy. Other findings conclude that Macedonia’s citizens want to see improvements in the standard of living, they strongly support EU and NATO membership, and they feel that freedom of speech and expression is on the decline.
Skopje, Macedonia – Just two and a half months since the formation of the coalition government, a new IRI poll shows that the citizens of Macedonia are increasingly worried about the state of their economy. With the average wage at about $444 per month and unemployment hovering close to 30 percent, this pessimism is of particular concern to the new VMRO-DPNE/DUI coalition government.
“For a country keen on gaining membership in the European Union, and whose citizens view membership as key to their economic progress, these numbers pale in comparison to neighboring countries which have recently finalized their EU status,” said Jan Surotchak, IRI’s regional director for Europe. “The message to policy-makers in our survey is clear: make job creation and improvement of the standard of living a priority.”
Macedonia’s Citizens Want to See Improvements in Standard of Living
Respondents demonstrated a marked increase in skepticism about the future of the economic situation, with only 21 percent of respondents believing that Macedonia’s economic situation would get better over the next two years, a decrease of five points over IRI’s May 2014 poll.
As has been the case for the last two decades, 72 percent of respondents note that economic issues remain the most pressing problems in the day-to-day lives of Macedonia’s citizens. This score is an improvement of just five percentage points compared with IRI’s September 2010 survey, which was taken when the same governing coalition was two years into its first mandate.
Citizens Still Strongly Support EU and NATO Membership
Nearly a quarter of respondents view EU membership as a means to bring greater opportunity and prosperity to the country, generally improving the lives of citizens. Support for joining the EU remains high at 72 percent and NATO membership aspirations also remain high at 77 percent.
However, IRI is tracking a declining trend in support for the country’s membership in both organizations. Support for EU and NATO membership has dropped roughly 10 percent since 2012.
Citizens See Freedom of Speech and Expression on Decline
For the first time since IRI first posed a question on civil rights in December 2010, respondents expressed concerns about the practice of freedom of speech and expression. Almost half (49 percent) suggested that free speech and the free expression of ideas do not exist in Macedonia today, compared with 42 percent who think the opposite.
The survey was conducted by Brima Ltd., a polling company based in Skopje in cooperation with and analyzed by Williams and Associatesin consultation with IRI. The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews from August 29-September 5, 2014, with a random sample of 1,104 Macedonian citizens, age 18 and older. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus three percent at the midrange of the 95 percent confidence level.
This research is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The views expressed in this press release do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States government.