New poll reveals nepotism firmly instilled in Czech society


To someone who has lived in this country for some time, it comes as no surprise. I'm talking about the results of a recent survey carried out by the Faculty of Social Sciences of Prague Charles University and a polling agency. The findings are the following: Czechs prefer to bypass official procedures and try to solve both their work-related and private affairs through friends in the right places.

The respondents in the survey had been chosen from among the political and business elites. They included state attorneys, judges, media professionals and employees of non-profit organisations. One fifth of those polled said they were approached on a regular basis by people asking for their matter to be dealt with in an unofficial manner in order to avoid formal procedures. Most often this concerned media professionals and public officials.

When asking influential persons for a "favour", people use the following tactics, according to the survey: friendliness, persuasion and persistence. In 40 percent of the cases, this behaviour is accompanied by a promise that the favour will be eventually returned. Twenty-seven percent of petitioners bring a gift and 13 percent offer money straight away. More than one fifth of the cases include verbal pressure, 13 percent of the supplicants use threats.

More than a half of those surveyed said they thought that nepotism and solving matters through acquaintances had a negative impact on the moral state of Czech society and led to or perpetuated corrupt practices.

A quarter of the respondents said that using influential contacts was part and parcel of Czech culture and local customs. A slightly lower number said this common practice was a result of the country's communist past - when people mistrusted state institutions which were unable to efficiently assist them in solving their problems.

The conclusion of the survey is that a well organised unofficial and informal network exists in the Czech Republic which efficiently works for the common good of all the parties involved. People are, nevertheless, aware that by using these practices they are undermining the mechanisms of a democratic society, says the study.