Young Czechs have different outlook from peers in other ex-communist states, survey finds

It is 16 years now since the dramatic collapse of communist rule around the former Eastern Bloc, and for many young people in the region communism is, if anything, a vague memory. But how do today's young generation view society, and their own lives? That question is addressed in a new survey of 17- to 27-year-olds in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Romania by the magazine Reader's Digest.

I spoke to the Czech co-ordinator of the poll, Dr Ivan Tomek, and asked him in which of the countries surveyed are young people most optimistic.

"The most optimism in this survey is in the Czech Republic - it's completely clear. They are the most satisfied with the last five years.

"On the other hand, optimism for the future is higher in Poland and Hungary, because if you are satisfied, if you are on a reasonable level of economic situation you do not expect such a high...situation in the future."

Let's talk for a second about the European Union - how do attitudes to the EU differ, or compare, in these countries we're talking about?

"The differences are only in the positive...appreciation of membership. It's most positive in Poland, more than 70 percent of young people feel it's good for the country. You know, there were a lot of discussions before but now most Poles, including in the agriculture sector, are very satisfied with that.

"In Hungary it's 67 and in the Czech Republic it's about 60 percent, so the majority are satisfied in all these countries.

"Negative views are rare - 20 percent in the Czech Republic, 15 in Poland and 27 in Hungary. So it's quite a positive opinion."

And the question of national pride. Is a typical young Czech as proud to be Czech as a young Hungarian is proud to be Hungarian?

"But national pride is much less important than in Poland, and in Hungary.""Definitely not. For young Hungarians the first thing they said when we asked them what they were proud of was 'I am proud I am a Hungarian'. For Czechs, they are proud of sports, of important Czechs in history and so on.

Were there any big surprises for you in this survey?

"The big surprise for me, and a negative one, was the lower importance of honesty as a...necessity for achieving success in the Czech Republic. It's on sixth place, while in Hungary and Poland it's second or third.

"And I was a bit surprised at how realistic young people are, how they see the real situation in their country - in the economy, in education. Of course also in politics, because they are highly dissatisfied with politics and politicians in the Czech Republic."