Among the Visegrad nations (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), Hungarians have the dimmest view of their country’s economic situation and their personal finances.

According to a  study published September 2 by the Central European Opinion Research Group (CEORG), some 73 percent of Hungarians said the national economy was either bad or very bad. At the other end of the spectrum is Poland, the only EU country that has weathered the global financial crisis without going into recession, where only a quarter of respondents perceived the situation as bad or very bad.

 

Optimism for the next 12 months is particularly low in the Czech Republic, where just 17% of respondents said they thought the country’s economic situation would improve.

 


 

A change in government usually helps to lift people’s expectations. CEORG did its fieldwork between June and August 2010, just after three Visegrad countries voted in new administrations in parliamentary elections (April 11 and 25 in Hungary, May 28-29 in the Czech Republic and June 12 in Slovakia). This allows us to compare the results with the preceding survey, which took place in January 2010 while the old governments were still in power.

 

Optimism surged in Hungary and Slovakia witnessed a slight uptick (see chart below). However, the Czechs’ expectations worsened at both the national and household levels. This negative trend was probably the result of the uncertainty generated by the long coalition negotiations that followed the vote (CEORG completed its fieldwork before Prime Minister Petr Nečas was able to form a government).