Putin gives Europeans confidence in the EU, democracy and their politicians

Vladimir Putin is correct in his assessment of Europe: it does not want to adhere to traditional values. For example, Europeans are less likely to like strong leaders and are less likely to show loyalty to them, and generally follow traditions.

But who is to blame? Based on the results of a recent opinion poll conducted as part of the European Public Survey, Putin himself has been replaced in the last year. After the start of the war in Ukraine, the attitude towards strong leaders and traditions deteriorated significantly. But it has reformed towards values ​​that, according to Putin, are foreign to Russia – democracy and freedom. Europeans also began to trust their politicians and parties more. As the desire for European integration has intensified, the perception of migrants and their potential contribution to the development of the host country has become better.

Experts from the University of Oxford analyzed the results of the opinion polls and published their study on the blog of the London School of Economics. “Conflicts affect trust levels in warring countries, but there is not enough data on how they affect people in neighboring economies,” the researchers said. Analyzing the survey results is like conducting an experiment under natural conditions, he explains. The dates of respondents and surveys are determined in advance within the framework of the European Public Survey, ie the events that have taken place do not affect these parameters. Before and after the invasion, the same people were interviewed in 8 “very different countries” – Italy, Greece, Portugal, Norway, Switzerland, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and the Netherlands.

The Kremlin was betting that the war, the influx of Ukrainian refugees (they now number 7.9 million in Europe), economic difficulties, and the rising cost of energy resources would undermine Europe’s unity, its support for Ukraine, and lead to discontent among the populace, who will demand more from their politicians. Think about your citizens, not about confronting Russia.

This bet didn’t work. The war forced respondents in EU countries to support the idea of ​​leaving the union somewhat less and to advocate more actively for European integration. Furthermore, Europeans began to believe that immigration had a positive effect on their country’s economy and culture, making it a better place to live.

The war waged by Russia strengthened the trust of the respondents in their politicians and parties. But this did not affect the attitude towards pan-European and international institutions, such as the European Parliament and the United Nations, and non-elected institutions (police, judiciary). Politicians continue to support Ukraine even as other parties come to power, and governments have already changed in a dozen countries since the start of the war. For example, in Italy, the ruling coalition included representatives of the North and Forward League, Italy, which previously spoke out in support of Putin (the Russian president also called one of the leaders of Forward, Italy, former prime minister Silvio was) Berlusconi his friend). However, this did not affect Italy’s position in pan-European support for Ukraine.

The war made the Europeans value democracy and freedom more. And the decrease in opposition to redistricting revealed by polls reflects strong solidarity, the researchers noted. As for the attitude towards authoritarian leaders, Putin, there is absolutely no hope for the court of elections: Europeans do not want to deal with such people.

And this despite the fact that in the same Italy, right-wing politician and conservative George Meloni became prime minister, who, according to him, protects “God, patron and family” (traditional values, according to Putin), and in the past Benito Mussolini Was a member of the parties formed by the followers of But at the same time, Meloni says that he and his current Brothers of Italy party oppose the suppression of democracy.

The researchers conclude:

Violence abroad can positively affect the level of political trust in countries that are not directly involved in these incidents.

High inflation, rising prices for gas and electricity, internal political disputes and strikes in a number of European countries have not undermined the public position on the issue of aid to Ukraine. According to a December Eurobarometer poll of 26,000 respondents, a majority of people in large countries favor arms sales and financial aid to Ukraine, as well as sanctions against Russia – even in Hungary, whose government regularly Prevents the adoption of new restrictions. measures. In only a few small countries, such as Slovakia and Greece, the majority does not support such a policy.

“Governments are not under pressure from the opposition, and the lack of internal conflict does not do more in terms of support for Ukraine,” says Nathalie Tosi, director of the Institute of International Relations in Rome. There are no important elections in the EU this year, and almost no one is in favor of talks with Putin: everyone sees that he wants to achieve military victory, not peace, Tosi (cited by The Wall Street Journal) it is said.

In general, according to Eurobarometer, three-quarters of EU citizens approve of the bloc’s policy of supporting Ukraine; Only 7% are categorically against it.

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