A new survey by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) Serbia shows a very high level of distrust among the Serbian citizens in the democratic process in the country. 80 percent believe that voting will not change the situation in Serbia and 60 percent of the surveyed citizens do not trust any politician in the country. At the same time, more than 60 percent of respondents said they occasionally or more seriously consider leaving the country.
Serbia has one of the highest rates of youth emigration in the Western Balkans region. A previous study by WFD showed that this problem costs the country about €1.2 billion a year and WFD’s work with our partners in the country revealed that there is a direct link between the high rate of youth emigration and their political alienation.
Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) has been focusing on the issues of political alienation and departure of young people from Serbia since 2018 and has aimed at putting these at the top of the political agenda in the country. This research is a part of that engagement.
This latest study was conducted in February 2020, on the eve of the coronavirus outbreak in Serbia and just before the declaration of a state of emergency in the country. The report sets out respondents’ views and the values of Serbian citizens before focusing on the issues of trust in institutions and politicians, political alienation, as well as motives for and causes of an increasingly conspicuous trend of young people’s departure from Serbia.
When asked about their attitudes towards political party membership, 80 percent consider that a membership is important for their career and 47 percent would vote for a party they disagree with if that party would employ a member of their family. These figures show that the political life in the country is highly determined by conjunctural interests rather than by a true political discussion.
The survey also shows that citizen’s freedoms and social injustice are the strongest motivations for engagement of the citizens, while international and regional issues score lower. Poverty in the country is rated as the phenomena with the highest negative impact on life in Serbia. More than half of the people think that emigration can be reduced by increasing the living standard in the country.