Public Perception about NGOs in Serbia


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This is a web publication presenting data from the survey on public perception and attitudes towards the nongovernmental sector in Serbia, carried out in May 2009. The survey was commissioned by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and financially supported by the USAID.

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Public Perception about NGOs in Serbia

  1. 1. Citizens’ Association for Democracy and Civic Education Simina 9a • 11 000 Belgrade • Tel/fax: +381 11 2625-942; 2623-980 • civin@gradjanske. org • www.gradjanske.orgPUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 This publication is made possible by the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the “Civil Society Advocacy Initiative” program, implemented by the Institute for Sustainable Communities. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily re ect the views of ISC, USAID or the United States Government.
  2. 2. Table of Contents1. Introduction .....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................32. Methodology ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................4 ndings ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................54. Findings by areas ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................6 Priority issues ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................6 Participation ..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................13 Empowerment ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................19 Trust ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 28 Perception of NGOs ............................................................................................................................................................................................................... 35 PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 2
  3. 3. 1. IntroductionThis is a web publication presenting data from the survey on public perception and attitudes towards the nongovernmental sector in Serbia,carried out in May 2009. The survey was commissioned by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and financially supported by the USAID.This survey is a part of the 5 year ISC project “Civil Society Advocacy Initiative” (CSAI), whose overall goal is for the citizens of Serbia to takeresponsibility for defining their future while building a more democratic and prosperous Serbia moving towards European integration. Byproviding grants, training, and technical assistance, CSAI works to: • Support civil society organizations (CSOs) to advocate effectively for political, economic, and social issues that consolidate Serbia’s democratic transition; • Pursue the adoption of new laws and strategies, amendments to current laws, and monitor the implementation of key legislation critical to improving the lives of Serbia’s citizens; • Create conditions for citizen activism at the local level; • Provide high quality technical skills in advocacy, networking and consensus building; • Encourage cross-sector partnerships and involvement of key stakeholders in advocacy initiatives.ISC is implementing its CSAI Program in partnership with the following organizations: Civic Initiatives (CI), the Balkan Community Initiatives Fund(BCIF), the European Center for Non-Profit Law (ECNL) and Smart Kolektiv.To understand survey results in the Serbian context, it is worth reminding the readers of the key events that took place in the period from May2006 to May 2009: • May 2006 – Montenegro declared independence; • 28-29 October 2006 – a referendum on a proposed draft of the new Constitution; • 21 January 2007 – parliamentary elections (the Government was only formed in May); • 20 January 2008 – presidential elections; • 17 February 2008 – Kosovo’s declaration of independence; • 11 May 2008 – early parliamentary, provincial and local elections; • September 2008 – split in SRS and the formation of SNS; • October 2008 – the eruption of the economic crisis; • Early 2009 – conditions set by IMF, the rationalization of the public sector; • March 2009 – public discussion and the adoption of the Anti-Discrimination Law; • April 2009 – the eviction of the Roma settlement Belvil.The gathered data were analyzed by CI staff: Jelena Milovanovic, Ivana Gliksman, Radojka Pavlovic and Dubravka Velat. We would like to extendour gratitude to Aleksandra Vesic, Civic Initiatives Team TRI trainer and NGO sector expert, for her contribution to data analysis.Data are commented from the perspectives of NGO representatives. The publication is not an in-depth sociological study, and it does not attemptto give all the answers to the problems and issues observed in the survey. However, we believe that the information provide valuable insight forthose who are interested in the NGO sector in Serbia and who want to further explore ways of improving its image in the Serbian society.Web publications are prepared in both Serbian and English and can be downloaded from and PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 3
  4. 4. 2. 2. 2. Methodology Description of of Research Description ResearchThe main aim of this research was to determine the Serbian public’s general perception of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), levels of publicawareness and familiarity with NGOs, and public attitudes towards the role and work of this sector. A secondary aim of this research was to examinethe extent to which the perception, awareness, and attitudes of citizens toward the NGO sector have changed since the last such survey in 2006.All the data were gathered by a standardized questionnaire which included the following five main, interrelated topics: • Priority issues – Issues faced by the country or the local community that citizens are most concerned about; • Participation – Citizen participation in the life of their local community; • Empowerment – The feeling of the role / power they have to influence the life of their local community; • Trust in institutions – Trust in public institutions and nongovernmental organizations NGOs; • Perception of NGOs – Familiarity with, perception and attitudes about NGOs.The survey was carried out amongst a representative sample of the citizens of Serbia, aged 18+. The sample type and sampling stages (stratified,three-staged, random, representative sample) allowed the generalization of the given data concerning the targeted population with a definedmarginal error. The sample size was 1044 interviewees (the marginal error for 95% confidence interval for incidence of 50% is +/-3.03%).The interviews were carried out using the "face to face" method at respondents’ homes. The fieldwork was accomplished in the period between 24thApril and 5th May, 2009.The sample of people interviewed was stratified by the following categories: • Gender: male / female; • Age: 18 – 29, 30-44, 45-60, over 60; • Education: elementary or less, secondary, college or university; • Will vote for Parliament: DS, SNS, SRS, DSS, LDP, SPS, other, undecided / refuse to answer, wouldn’t vote; • Region: Belgrade, Central Serbia, Vojvodina; • Type of settlement: urban / rural.Most graphs provide comparative data, from the 2006 and 2009 surveys. In several instances where the examined data were not collected in 2006or where significant information was drawn from the 2009 survey, graphs provide data solely from the more recent survey.The narrative descriptions usually begin with a general analysis of the data from the 2009 survey, followed by a comparison with 2006 survey data.Further explanations go deeper into the analysis of the 2009 data, presenting only those data that show greater variations compared to the averagedata, and significant differences among research variables (i.e. by gender, age, education, region, type of settlements, political party affiliation – interms of for whom they would vote in the Parliamentary election. For the sake of simplicity, we call them by the name of the parties they would votefor, i.e. “DS voters” or “SPS voters”. PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 4
  5. 5. 3. 3. 3. Presentation of data Presentation of of data ndings Presentation dataThe collapse of US financial institutions in September 2008 caused a global domino effect. In 2009, the influence of the world economic crisison Serbia determined the dynamics of events on the political scene. Although a certain level of stability was achieved, the ruling coalition,led by the Democratic Party (DS), came under increased strain as the economic crisis generated more strikes and public protests, aswell as intra-coalition political disagreement. Unemployment and poverty increased, and there was a dramatic drop in the standardof living. The need to make further deep cuts in public sector expenses and employment in order to meet the IMF-agreed budget deficittargets heightened the risk of a popular backlash and social discontent. With this context in mind, it is not surprising that the main findingsrelated to public perceptions of and attitudes toward the NGO sector in Serbia in 2009 are generally not as positive as would be desired, butstill better than one could have expected.In terms of priority issues, and compared to 2006, more people perceive unemployment, general economy, corruption and crime as the topissues for the future of the country, while substantially fewer people mention the Kosovo issue among high-priority concerns.Citizen participation in Serbia is very weak - the great majority of the citizens (78%) do not belong to any of the groups or organizations,networks, associations. This number has even increased when compared to 2006 (71%). Citizens are mostly associated with trade or laborunions (6%), political groups or movements (5%), sports groups (3%) and cultural groups or associations (2%). This may indicate that theevery-day struggle to survive has decreased the will of citizens to unite their strength and face new challenges. Membership in some groupsrequires additional engagement in spare time, which people barely have under the sharpened conditions and increased competition in theprofessional sphere. Moreover, the authorities neither showed sufficient interest in, nor created favorable conditions for, citizens’engagement. It must also be pointed out that funding resources for most groups, apart from political parties, are significantly changed, andmany people have had difficulty coping with this.In comparison to 2006, respondents indicated less of a feeling of power to change things in their own lives and in their local communities.The sense of control over all and most decisions has dropped from 51% to 38%, while the feeling of having no control or over very fewdecisions has grown from 23% to 33%. Several factors influence citizens’ feeling of power to control their own lives and the community, andare primarily tied to the usual role assignment in the decision-making. It is evident that a feeling of control is stronger in more developed andaffluent communities, which offer more opportunities. This explains the feeling of self-confidence among Belgrade citizens – which is rathera result of an idea that there are possibilities they can choose from than of direct engagement in regaining control.Trust in institutions has decreased - with the exception of the church, and to an extent the police, public trust in institutions to work in thebest interest of society is extremely low. On the other hand, the situation with NGOs is not as negative as expected: actually, NGOs are trustedmore that the Serbian Parliament, Serbian Government, Serbian business community and political parties (which are at the bottom of the“trust list”). One can sense a general lack of trust towards institutions, and a strong feeling of estrangement of the state from the citizens anddisappointment that the state is viewed as more concerned with the interests of the political parties constituting it than with the publicinterest. It is interesting that, compared to other institutions, trust in NGOs is on the rise, which gives hope that the “time of crying” over thebetrayed expectations of the 5th October changes is at its end.The perception of NGOs is still not what we would prefer - the first associations with NGOs are somewhat more positive than negative and34% of responses imply that more people have positive or neutral associations when hear “NGO”, compared to 29% of associations which canbe described as negative. The information that a fifth of the citizens know nothing about NGOs and that the negative attitudes are incorrelation with the themes which attract the media’s attention is worrisome. These findings should encourage NGO activists to dedicatemore attention to the issue of informing the public about their work and results so that they may reach all the citizens in their communities. PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 5
  6. 6. 3. 3. 3. Presentationareas – Priority issues Presentation of of of data Presentation data 4. Findings by dataFindings by areas unemployment (61%), which indicates a significant increase when compared to 2006 (53%). Related to unemployment is also the issue of low living standards,Priority issues indicated by 36% of the respondents, which is a bit less than it was 3 years ago,Graph 1: In your view, what are the 3 issues or problems that are of the greatest when it was 40%. The importance of economy almost doubled (16% in 2006importance for the future of the country? – all answers, spontaneous compared to 30% in 2009). One quarter of citizens (25%) saw corruption as a growing problem (18% in 2006) together with crime (17% in 2009 as compared to 10% in 2006). Substantially fewer people mentioned the Kosovo issue amongTOP 10 – SPONTANEOUSLY MENTIONED priorities (6% compared to 24% in 2006), with EU integration, already not highly prioritized in 2006, dropping to 6% (from 9%). 53% In 2009, unemployment was perceived as the issue of greatest importance for the Unemployment 61% country by more women (65%) than men (56%), and by young people (69%), persons with elementary and less education (67%), those that would vote for SPS Low standard of living (small 40% (75%), living outside of Belgrade (Central Serbia 67%, Vojvodina 66%) and in rural salaries, pensions...) 36% areas (64%). Among these people, the lowest percentages belong to persons from Belgrade (39%) and LDP voters (33%). The percentage of people who found the 16% issue of unemployment to be of utmost importance is much greater than the y Economy 30% official data on the unemployment rate. This can be explained by individuals’ 18% growing fears of job losses, and the lack of possibilities for new employment. The Corruption less frequent anxiety among Belgrade citizens and LDP voters can be explained by 25% the fact that Belgrade offers more opportunities for finding jobs, while LDP voters 10% are generally highly educated with more chances to adjust to the situation. They are Crime 17% not so much personally affected by unemployment, but are still aware that this is a great issue for the future of the society. Ruined economy (factories not 7% 8% The issue of the low standard of living is still in second place among priority issues working etc.) ki t ) for the future of society. However, in 2009, fewer people thought the same (40% in 3% 2006 2006, compared to 36% in 2009). This is related to general indicators of poverty, Internal politics, bad politics 7% which till the end of 2008 showed a downward trend. The percentage of the poor 2009 grew in the first quarter of 2008, but is still smaller than in 2006 (from 8.8% of the 9% poor in 2006 to 5.4% in 2007 and 7.4% in April 2009). If we compare statistical data Public health 6% stratified by regions, in the first half of 2009, the poverty rate was twice higher in 24% Central Serbia than in Belgrade and Vojvodina. The low standard of living is Problems in Kosovo, status of perceived to be of great importance mostly by women (40%) and less educated Kosovo, terrorism Kosovo terrorism... 6% persons (48%). On the other hand, college and university educated persons were 9% more concerned about the general economy (38%). The same issue was identified Joining EC by 37% of those that are most economically active (age 30-44). The almost 100% 6% increase in the anxiety of citizens about economy can be associated with their awareness of possible consequences of the economic crisis which appeared much earlier before crisis really affected the economy of Serbia. It is therefore expectedIn comparison to 2006, more people perceived unemployment, general economy, that people of working age and more educated people are more familiar with thecorruption and crime as the top issues for the future of the country, while situation and more able to make guesses, than those at the poverty level and thosesubstantially fewer people mentioned the Kosovo issue as a high-priority concern. near the end of their working life.In response to an open question about the three issues or problems that are of the An interesting variety of answers is visible with regard to corruption which seems togreatest importance for the future of Serbia, most people mentioned be recognized as an important issue mostly by young people (35%) and persons with secondary education (28%), which is understandable since they belong to a PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 6
  7. 7. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Priority issues Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings datagroup of active citizens who greatly suffer consequences without having any low standard of living (from 51 to 53% of population). This is not in accordance withmechanism to confront them. LDP voters (35%) and those living in Belgrade (32%) actual indicators, because when compared with the period before the crisis, thefar clearly recognize the problem of corruption because it is mostly widespread in poverty index rose more quickly in Belgrade and Central Serbia than in Vojvodina.administrative centers, where decisions related to greater profit are made. The least This indicates a fairly pessimistic view about a personal perspective.worried are the elderly (14%) and less educated people (18%) because big scandalsusually happen far from them and they do not have a feeling that they are directly Graph 2.1: What are the top 3 issues or problems about which you personally areaffected by them. The attitude of SRS voters (11%) and those living in Vojvodina most concerned these days? – all answers, spontaneous(15%) can be explained in a similar way because they mostly consist of a similar (Multiple answers; Base: Total target population)structure, i.e. elderly citizens, less educated persons and those living far fromdecision-making places. 59% Low standard of living (small salaries, pensions...) 52%There are strong political differences in relation to Kosovo and EU integrationissues. The Kosovo issue raises high concerns among SRS (16%) and DSS (14%) 38% Unemployment 45%voters. The decline in the interest in the Kosovo issue can be associated with the factthat the 2006 research overlapped with the dissolution of the State Union of Serbia 8%and Montenegro and the popular feeling that Kosovo was next. The hope that this Corruption 17%could be prevented was created during the referendum campaign, but three years 5%later, many citizens became aware of the reality and of the fact that the denial of Economy 14%Kosovo independence is only in the interest of political bodies. Only the voters of 21%nationalist parties still cherish hope. Public health 16%The interest of citizens in EU integration has also declined, because the process is 8%very slow and shows no visible effects, and therefore the feeling that the “promised Crime 9%land” is still far and does not depend on them is much spread. A sense of 5%disappointment is also evident, because in the 2008 parliamentary elections, many Retirements 7% 2006more citizens expressed the wish that the state accelerate its EU integration General crisis, insecurity, lack of 7%process. This issue is considered to be of great importance by LDP voters (19%) and 2009 perspective. 6%DS voters (10%) because LDP, having an opposition role, mostly advocates EUintegration, while DS gained power on this issue. Increase of prices 6%In 2009, at a personal level and in comparison to 2006, people were moreconcerned about unemployment (45%), corruption (17%) and the general Expansion of Mexican flu 5%economy (14%). A low standard of living was still at the top of personal concerns(52%), but there is a drop compared to 2006 (59%). It is also noteworthy that in 2009 Agriculture 5%fewer people (16%) were concerned about public health than in 2006 (21%). 6% Education, school policy 4%A low standard of living was perceived by 55% of women as the key concern, andalso by 58% of middle aged persons (45-60 years), and 60% of less educated 9%persons. This was expected because they belong to the groups that have fewer Social problems 4%chances in the period of crisis and are forced to accept poorly paid jobs. Similarreasons can be also associated with 63% of those that would vote for SRS, because Impact of global economic crisis 3% %they are mostly citizens belonging to largely socially excluded groups. Even thoughthe actual poverty rate is lower in 2009 than in 2006, the depth of poverty worsenedat the end of 2008, and the World Bank and IMF assessed that the budgetallocations in Serbia are the lowest in the region. People living in different Unemployment was viewed as the biggest personal concern mostly by younggeographic regions and types of settlement did not have much difference in their people (64%), persons with secondary level education (48%), DSS voters (61%),opinions about this question, and they were all almost equally worried about the those living in Central Serbia (55%) and in rural areas (51%). As expected, only 23% PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 7
  8. 8. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Priority issues Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings dataof elderly people expressed concern about unemployment, and a bit more, 27% of Graph 3: How important are the following issues for Serbia? – % answers “verypeople living in Belgrade shared the same concern. The public perceptions concur important”with the official statistical data. Since the data on the economic crisis werepublished in October 2008, a sharp deterioration in the labor market occurred. In 91%April 2009, there was an increase in the unemployment rate from 13.3% in the Unemployment 91% Same as 2006pre-crisis period to 16.6% in 2009. During the same period, from 2008 to 2009, there 91%was a decline in employment of almost 200,000 jobs. According to statistical Low standard of living 89%indicators, the crisis occurred in non-urban areas, particularly in Central Serbia, and 87% Povertyskilled workers and young people were the most severely affected. Women were 88%more struck by the crisis in its first phase, while men suffered more in the second. Human rights 73% 72% 84%Graph 2.2: What are the top 3 issues or problems about which you personally are Health care and health insurance 88%most concerned these days? – Spontaneous, all three answers 82% Economic development 87% 82% 64% Crime and personal security 86% 50% 81% Corruption 86% 18 29 17% 75% 13% Employees’ rights 79% More important then 2006 6% 73% Education 78% 48% 68% Improving conditions for people with 53% special needs 75% 60% 30 44 20% Environmental protection 72% 18% 61% 5% Unemployment Alcoholism and drug addiction 71% 61% 50% Reform of the legal system 67% 58% Low standard of living 58% AIDS and HIV 19% (small salaries, pensions...) 67% 45 60 55% 19% Problems of your local community 65% Corruption 8% 58% Reform of the political system 64% 23% 53% 47% Economy Status of refugees and returnees 61% 47% >60 10% Gender relations/equality 56% 7% Public health 70% Kosovo status 20% 59% important then 2006 56% Less Joining European Union 2006 49% 53%In 2009, the number of people who believed that corruption had influenced their Advance of democracy 2009 47%personal life jumped significantly (from 8% in 2006 to 17% in 2009). This wasexpected since other research has found that people believed that corruption is Global economic crises 69%mostly present in the health system (78%), and among political parties (76%), and it PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 8
  9. 9. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Priority issues Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings datais usually associated with election processes, which were frequent in the given Graph 4: How important are the following problems for your daily life and well-period. In comparing the percentages of people worried about corruption in being – % very importantdifferent regions, the greatest difference was found between people living inCentral Serbia (21%) and those living in Vojvodina (8%). These variations in attitudes 80% Low standard oflliving of ivingcan be explained by the fact that a feeling of being personally affected by 81%corruption is more present among the poor, and Central Serbia is thought to be the 74% Poverty 75%most underdeveloped region of the country. Same as 2006 72% Economic development 74%Citizens considered issues like unemployment, a low standard of living, poverty and 68%human rights to be equally important in 2009 as in 2006. Although assessed as Crime and p personal security y 70%equally important, data from previous graphs show that these issues are perceived 65%as “top” issues for both the future of the country and as personal concerns. When Employees’ rights 65%asked to rank issues in terms of importance, people gave highest marks first to 58% Problems of your local community 60%unemployment and then to crime and personal security, health care and health 63%insurance, low standard of living and poverty. At the same time, the situation has Corruption 66%worsened and a number of issues were recognized as even more important than in 79%2006. The biggest “jump” is visible among those issues that have been put on the Health care and health insurance 82%agenda by the Government and/or were advocated by the NGO sector 48% Environmental protection 57%(environment, conditions for persons with disabilities, alcoholism and drug More important then 2006 56%addiction, local community problems, gender issues). The importance of Kosovo’s Education 58%status dropped dramatically (from 70% in 2006 to 59% in 2009), together with a 45% Improving conditions for people withsignificant drop in relation to EU integration and the advance of democracy. special needs 51% 42%These data show that citizens’ concern is about real life problems and not theory Reform of the legal system 47%and politics. There are a very few differences among respondents in relation to 38% Reform of the political system 41%specific issues. Only a few are worth mentioning. For example, among issuesmarked as important (4+5), the global economic crisis is considered as less 37% Alcoholism and drug addiction 41%important by citizens from Belgrade (66%) than by people living in Central Serbia 35%(88%). The same issue is more significant for people living in rural areas (89%) than Gender relations/equality 2006 40%for people from urban areas (78%). Problems at the level of the local community are 35% AIDS and HIV 2009less significant to those living in urban areas (78%), than to those living in rural areas 38%(89%). The feelings and worries of citizens are in accordance with existing indicators 29% Status of refugees and returnees 37%showing that in the period of crisis, the poorly developed sink faster and deeper 80%than others, and that the state cannot spur their development without some Unemployment 73% Less important thenforeign assistance. The Kosovo issue has more importance among the older 62% Human rightspopulation (88%) than among those of 33-44 years of age (71%). As for the voters of 58%different parties, they showed that they are very familiar with their party politics, 43% 2006 Kosovo status K 39%and therefore 91% of DSS voters considered the Kosovo status to be an important 37%issue, while much less - 53% of LDP voters thought the same. Gender relations were Joining European Union 36%less important to those living in Vojvodina (70%) than to those living in Central 36%Serbia (81%), where the patriarchal cultural model is more developed. The Advance of democracy 34%advancement of democracy was seen as less important by those who would vote Global economic crises 53%for SNS (52% compared to 80% of DS and 79% of LDP voters). As expected, forpeople with college or university degrees perceive the advancement of democracy PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 9
  10. 10. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Priority issues Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings dataas more important (78%) than do people with elementary education (65%).. Joining their daily life than the young population (67%). An even greater difference isthe European Union is an issue that shows the greatest differences based on related to the issue of joining the European Union – 63% of young people and 39%political party affiliation: from 43% of DSS and 49% of SNS voters, to 83% DS and of the older generation consider this issue important, which was fully expected97% LDP voters. Citizens from Belgrade consider joining the EU as less important since this would open access to wanted opportunities for young people, and forces(55%) than citizens from other regions (72% Central Serbia). People belonging to the elderly to change. This issue also shows variations among voters of differentdifferent age groups are also divided on this issue and the young population (77%) parties, so 89% of LDP, 66% of DS, and 31% of SRS voters think that for their daily lifeconsiders it to be more important than the older population (58%). This is in and well-being it is important that Serbia join the European Union. In Central Serbiaaccordance with expectations, because younger people have greater capacities for 57% of citizens believe this issue is important, compared to 41% of Belgradechanges, and they see chances for themselves in an advanced and more democratic citizens.society. The global economic crisis concerned more than half of the citizens of Serbia, whichBy comparing data from 2006 and 2009, it can be seen that citizens deem problems is understandable since after a multi-year 5% growth of GDP per year, the firstlike a low standard of living, poverty, economic development, crime and personal impacts of the crisis appeared in late 2008, and in the first half of 2009, GDP declinedsecurity, employees’ rights and problems of their local community equally to 4%. The economic crisis is more important to SNS (83%) than to LDP (49%) voters.important for their daily life and well-being. Even though the poverty rate is lower It is also more important to Vojvodina (78%) than to Belgrade (55%) citizens, i.e. tothan in 2006, the crisis and insecure future do not allow any shift of people’s those who are in the most unfavorable social position and the farthest from theconcerns in some other social spheres. However, issues like environmental decision-making, the status of refugees and returnees, and improving conditions forpeople with disabilities are considered to be more important in 2009 than in 2006.We would need some more in-depth surveys to determine whether this increase isa result of the development of social consciousness, or it is due to people’s tendencyto give more favorable answers in the period of the promotion of social solidarity.This is particularly interesting when compared to the issue of human rights, whichis not considered as important as it used to be. In 2009, unemployment is marked asless important for the daily life and well-being of citizens than it was in 2006, whichdoes not coincide with the statistical indicators, since in the last year of the givenperiod, the unemployment rate increased from 14% in 2008 to 16.6 in 2009. Anexplanation might lie in the fact that citizens connect the term “employed” with along-term stable contract with an employer, and this practice is in decline.Simultaneously, due to the unfavorable tax policy, a grey labor market with someshort-term opportunities for earning money flourished, and therefore the status ofa formally employed is not so important any more. Human rights, the Kosovo status,EU accession, the advancement of democracy are also viewed as slightly lessimportant.Estimated as being the most important (4+5) issues for daily life and well-being in2009 are: health care and health insurance (95%), low standard of living (92%),crime and personal security (89%), economic development (89%) and poverty(88%). The least important (1+2) are joining the European Union (28%), AIDS andHIV (27%), alcoholism and drug addiction (23%) and the Kosovo status (22%).When it comes to the importance of different issues among different age groups, itcan be noted that young people (86%) deem education more important than theolder generation (61%). The elderly (45%) find gender relations less important for PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 10
  11. 11. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Participation Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings dataParticipation Among those who belong to some associations, we can note that men are mostlyGraph 5: Do you belong to any of these groups or organizations, networks, and members of political (7%) and sports (6%) groups, and then trade unions (5%), whileassociations? women are more often members, first of trade unions (6%) and much less of politi-Multiple answers; Base: Total target population cal (3%) and sports (1%) groups. Trade unions mostly gather people of working age (10 % - 9%), university graduates 8% (11%), small party voters (17%) and Belgrade citizens (11%). Among members of Trade or labor union 6% different political groups, there are mostly small party voters (27%), people with 5% university education (11%), and then SNS and DSS voters (8%). Young people Political group or movement 5% mostly belong to sports groups (6%) and then political groups (4%). 5% Sports group 3% The low rates of participation may indicate that the every-day struggle to survive 2% has caused a decrease in citizens’ will to unite their strength and face new Cultural group or association 2% challenges. Membership in some groups requires additional engagement in spare Professional association 2% time, which people barely have under the sharpened conditions and increased (doctors, teachers, veterans) 1% competition in the professional sphere. Moreover, the authorities neither showed 1% sufficient interest in nor created favorable conditions for citizens’ engagement. It Women’s group 1% must be pointed out that funding resources for most groups, apart from political 2% Business association/traders’ group 1% parties, have significantly changed, and many people have had difficulty coping with this. An explanation can also be sought in a values gap. On the one hand we 1% Neighborhood or village committee 1% have the older population with a collective conscience and a paternalistic approach 2% captured in their memories of “old times” and without progressive ideas. On the Education group (eg PTA or school committee) 1% other hand, we have younger generations with evident individualism and conform- Religious or spiritual group 3% 2006 ism, disappointed in constant delays of a better future. Finally, there must be some (church, mosque, informal religi 1% “material fatigue” among citizens, as well as the lack of their belief that their 1% 2009 personal engagement can bring any qualitative changes. If this is looked in the light Youth group 1% of the fact that the middle generation is weakened by almost 300,000 of those who, 1% during the repressive regime, were younger and more ambitious and went abroad, NGO or social service organization 1% then it becomes clear why citizens have difficulties in finding something that would 0% Parents group be worth their engagement. 1% 71% Each tenth citizen (11%) has taken some action to address a specific concern or None 78% problem in their community, which is even less than in 2006. As in 2006, the reasons for not taking any action vary, but most frequently – and somewhat more than in 2006 - citizens just do not believe that it would make a difference. Men were moreThe great majority of citizens (78%) do not belong to any group, organization, active (15%) than women (7%), persons from 45 to 60 years old (14%) more activenetwork or association. This number has increased since 2006 (71%). Citizens mostly than young people (6%), persons with higher education (18%) were more activeassociate with trade or labor unions (6%), political groups or movements (5%), than those with elementary education (7%). DSS voters (24%) and those notsports groups (3%) and cultural groups or associations (2%). belonging to the main political parties (22%) were among the more active citizens,More men (25%) than women (19%) are associated with different groups. Those and the least active were SRS voters (5%). It is apparent that those who have moreabove 30 years of age (23% - 24%), highly educated (35%), and non-leading political spare time (men and the elderly) and those who cannot impose their ideas throughparty voters (42%) belong to some groups, organizations or networks. It is worth the structure of power (DSS and undecided) more often decided in favor of socialmentioning that only 16% of young people and only 3% of LDP voters (next are SRS engagement. The highly educated have a more developed social awareness andvoters - 18%), belong to any type of organization. easier access to information, while SRS voters are traditionally loyal to their party and have no interest in giving up of their role of being faithful members. PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 11
  12. 12. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Participation Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings data c (33%), persons with secondary education (30%), and SPS (46%) and DSS (45%)concern or problem in your community? voters. There are vast geographical differences, with more persons from CentralBase: Total target population Serbia (35%) and in rural areas (32%) not believing that they could make any difference than in Vojvodina (19%) and in urban areas (26%). These data illustrate a growing decline in people’s enthusiasm and an increased feeling of being only objects, and not subjects, of the society. It must be emphasized that women are more determined and systematical than men, and they are not so easily disappointed. Elderly citizens have a feeling of being socially excluded and have No more difficulties in adapting to changes, and it should also be remembered that 85% 89% Yes many of them are still engaged within their families as a secure and cheap support to younger members. As for the respondents of different political affiliations, the loss of hope is mostly present among the voters of those parties that had lost power (DSS) or that constantly need just a bit more to come to power (SRS). A common characteristic of other groups is that they are coming from poorly developed areas, 15% 11% where apathy is otherwise more evident. A lack of time as the reason for the lack of activism was most often mentioned by 2006 2009 persons aged 30-44 (28%) and highly educated persons (25%), i.e. those who belong to mostly engaged working groups. The highly educated accept more challenges just to keep their position, while others work a few jobs just to maintain c their existence. It is interesting that the lack of time as a reason for not taking anyconcern or problem in your community action is more common among those coming from Vojvodina (29%) than among those living in Belgrade and Central Serbia (17%). This is difficult to understand and requires a more in-depth analysis, particularly if we exclude the possibility that such 25% answers were given so that people would not feel bad. The lack of time was a less Do not believe that it would make a common reason for those older than 60 (7%) and SPS voters (8%), which are difference 29% categories that overlap to a great extent. 22% It is interesting that “do not know how” was most often stated by women (22%) and Do not have time 20% younger people (23%), and least often by SNS voters (8%). Women and young people are highly marginalized groups, with a high degree of social exclusion, and 17% therefore it is expected that they have restricted access to information. At first sight, it is surprising that among SNS voters there are the least of those who “do not know Do not know how 19% how”, and if this is connected to the data that they more often than others answered 2006 that they “have no time” and that the total of these two answers given by the voters 19% of the leading parties are equal, then we can wonder how sincerely they answered Not interested 2009 19% and to what extent some of them avoided to say to not know something. It is not surprising that elderly people (24%) were less interested in problem solving, as were DS voters (23%), who do this through the position of authority, and thoseThe reason for not taking any action is primarily based on a belief that it would not living in Vojvodina (24%). More interested in problem solving were those betweenmake any difference (29%), or on a lack of time (20%) while 19% mentioned they do 30-44 years of age (15%), LDP (12%) and SPS (8%) voters.not know how and 19% were not interested. Men were more likely to believe thatthey could not make any difference (31%), then women (26%), the elderly over 60 PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 12
  13. 13. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Participation Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings data c concern or Petitions were signed mostly by SNS voters (85%), women (40%), less educatedproblem in your community? persons (58%) and persons from Belgrade (49%), and most rarely by DSS voters (10%). c concern or problem in It is worth mentioning that among those who attended some city council/publiccommunity in the past 12 months (11% of target population) events, young people were most represented (49%), while those between 30 and 44 years of age most rarely attended such meetings, only 4%. It can also be noted that men (23%) were more often present at such gatherings than women (8%). Moreover, 36% Signed a petition they were more frequently speakers at town meetings or public forums (7% 32% compared to 3%). People with higher education (11%) and those living in rural areas Attended a city council meeting public meeting, 15% (11%) were more often speakers at such meetings than middle aged people (45-60 hearing, or public discussion 18% years, 2%) and those living in urban areas (2%). Also, participation in information or 14% election campaigns was more common among highly educated people (31%), vs. Contacted a public official 14% only 3% of people with secondary education. When it comes to alerting the police 12% about some problem, SPS voters (24%) did so most frequently, unlike DS voters who Attended a demonstration or rally 13% rarely contacted the police (6%) and SNS, SRS, DSS and LDP voters who had never 12% done so. The greatest number of SPS voters (35%) also joined a group or organization Participated in an information or election 13% (NGO and other). Finally, data show that women were more active than men in two campaign 2006 types of activities: joining a group or NGO (4% compared to 3% of men) and initiating 4% Spoke at a town meeting or public forum 2009 or forming groups (4% compared to 1% of men). 6% 5% Citizens who are poorly represented in the ruling regime most frequently decide to Spoke at a city council meeting 5% participate by taking actions which do not require intense engagement, such as 6% petitions. The most passive is the middle generation with secondary education, who Alerted newspaper, radio, or TV about do not have time to “deal with politics”, and also evident is a traditional model that the p problem 5% says that this is a “men’s” job. The absence of young people is striking, and indicates 5% Alerted police about the problem that they are not interested in the traditional methods of participation. They more 4% often communicate and are quickly mobilized via contemporary social networks Joined a group or organization (NGO or 4% (Facebook, blogs, etc.), and therefore this must also be kept in mind. In the other) 3% male-dominated system of authority, it is expected that women more often seek 4% other ways to exert influence. Initiated or formed a group 2% Graph 8: In the past 12 months, have you worked with others in your village / t of the community? Base: Total target populationAs in the year 2006, most of the citizens took action by signing a petition (32%),followed by attending public events/meetings (18%), making contacts with publicofficials (14%), participating in public protests or rallies (13%) and in information orelection campaigns (13%). On the other hand, taking action by speaking at townmeetings or public events was quite rare (6%), as was speaking at city council No 81% 84%meetings (5%), alerting the media about a problem (4%), and alerting the policeabout a problem (4%). Only 3% of citizens joined a group or NGO and 2% initiated or Yesformed a group. 19% 16%In general, the percentage of those who were active is higher among men, those with45-60 years of age, with secondary education, those that were indecisive about their 2006 2009voting/refused to answer, people from Central Serbia and from urban areas. PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 13
  14. 14. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Participation Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings dataOnly 16% of citizens stated that they worked with others in their communities to do (53%), more people between 30 and 44 years old (65%) than elderly persons (48%),something for the bene t of the community, which is again slightly less than in more people with higher education (secondary 66%, university 65%) than with2006. Out of those who were active, there were more men (20%) than women elementary (43%), more DSS voters (72%) more than any other including undecided(12%), more middle-aged persons (30-44, 19%) than young people (13%), and more (53%), more people from Belgrade (64%) than from Vojvodina (54%), and morewith higher education (22%) than with elementary (10%). DSS voters (25%) rural-dwelling (61%) than urban community citizens (57%).cooperated with others to do something for the bene t of their community, while There are no major di erences when money is concerned in comparison to dataSPS (7%) and LDP (9%) voters were least active. Activism was more common among related to time contribution. Only slightly more people living in rural areas (55%)people from Central Serbia (18%) and from rural areas (19%) than among people would give money to contribute to their communities than people living in urbanliving in Vojvodina (12%) and urban areas (13%). areas (53%).These survey ndings are not surprising, because more educated people have a These results once again illustrate that solidarity does not lie in a simple and directbetter developed social consciousness, while the set of values of the middle-aged dependence on how much people can o er. When it comes to time and di erencegeneration is primarily based on the collective spirit. DSS voters are often between men and women, we can sense the in uence of a patriarchal model thatconservative, and this implies ful lling commitments that are mainly related to their implies that “women should stay at home”, and this is con rmed by the fact thatfamilies and community. It is also signi cant to what extent the community is they are equally willing to give money. It is expected that citizens older than 60 havedeveloped, i.e. how necessary it is to improve poor conditions. more spare time than money, but they are also willing to give money, because they ts for are inclined to self-isolation. Persons with a lower level of education often belong tomany other people in your community, would you contribute to the project? socially excluded groups and have a feeling that they should receive and not give. ItBase: Total target population is expected that people in smaller communities are more compassionate than those in big cities; they are more often in a situation to solve problems by using their own Money: Time: resources. The fact that people from Belgrade are less willing to give money might be explained by a deeper distrust, because it is harder for them to see direct results 11% 6% 10% 6% when they give money than it is for people in smaller communities. 40% 35% 36% 34% Don t Dont know No 59% Yes 54% 54% 56% 2006 2009 2006 2009 On the other hand, as in 2006, more than half of the citizens, at least declaratively,would be ready to contribute money, and almost 60% would contribute time for thebene t of other people in their community, even if the project would not bene tthem directly.There are interesting di erences among citizens and their readiness to contributetime to community projects. In the category of those who are willing to contributetime for the bene t of their communities, there are more men (65%) than women PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 14
  15. 15. 3. 3. 3. Presentation areas – Empowerment Presentation of of of data Presentationby data 4. Findings dataEmpowermentGraph 10: How much control do citizens feel to have in their own lives and in their Graph 11: Do you feel that you have power to make important decisions thatlocal communities? change the course of your life? Control over all decisions 5% 26% 12% 11% 33% 19% 38% 51% 21% 26% Control over most decisions 22% Totally able to change 32% Mostly able to change Control over some decisions 36% 29% 34% Neither able nor unable 26% Mostly unable to change Control over very few 18% 19% 25% decisions Totally unable to change 13% 23% 33% 32% 38% 10% 15% No control 13% 13% 2006 2009 2006 2009In comparison to 2006, respondents indicated a diminished feeling of power to Graph 12: Do you believe that you have the ability to change things that you dochange things in their own lives and in their local communities. The sense of control not like in your local community?over all and most decisions has dropped from 51% to 38%, while a feeling of havingno control or having control over only very few decisions has grown from 23% to 3% 10% 2% 8% Totally able to change my33%. 7% 6% community 23% 22% Mostly able to change myThe feeling of having control over all and most decisions is more prevalent amongmen (44%) than among women (32%). Persons aged 30-44 (45%), with higher communityeducation (44%), DS and DSS voters (44%) and Belgrade citizens (42%) are among 31% 29% Neither able or unablethose who have more faith in their powers to control their lives and their local 69% 67%communities. There are no major di erences among other categories of population. Mostly unable to changeHowever, if speaking about having control over no or very few decisions, then it can 40% my community 36%be seen that persons over 60 years feel least powerful (45%), so do people withelementary education (45%), SRS voters (46%), those coming from Central Serbia Totally unable to change my community(40%). 2006 2009Several factors in uence citizens’ feeling of power to control their own lives and thecommunity, and are primarily tied to the usual role assignment in the The number of people reporting a feeling of being able to totally or mostly changedecision-making. Moreover, it is evident that a feeling of control is stronger in more the course of their lives dropped from 33% to 26%, while the number of peopledeveloped and a uent communities, which o er more opportunities. This explains feeling unable to change has risen from 32% to 38%. As expected, younger peoplethe feeling of self-con dence among Belgrade citizens – which is a result of an idea predominantly felt they were able to change things (39% of age 18-29 and 34% ofthat there are possibilities they can choose from, rather than of direct engagement age 30-44), as do those with higher education (34%), DS voters (32%), Belgradein regaining control. citizens and those from urban areas (28%). Greater di erences are among the increasing number of those who felt unable to change the course of their lives: 45% PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS NGO SECTOR IN SERBIA in 2009 15