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20 Years Later – I

An NGO from here released a survey through which they supposedly attempted to figure out Romanians’ views on “democracy, citizenship and civic participation” 20 years after the fall of Communism. In fact it’s 20 years since the NGO in question was founded, close to 21 since the fall of Communism, but doesn’t matter. I’ll just try to post the results and my own answers to the questions here because I still have no further information regarding the matter that has pretty much paralyzed me in fear for the past several days and certainly can’t think enough to actually write something on another issue…
If the percentages add to less than 100%, it’s usually because I don’t include the “don’t know or refuse to answer” part. If there is any other reason, I’ll specify it. The answers are listed in the order provided. If you want to take this as a random survey to fill, just replace Romania with your own country I guess…

1. Do you approve of democracy?
– Yes, fully: 62%
– Somewhat: 21%
– Not really: 5%
– Not at all: 10%
My answer: Somewhat. It is a bad system, but most likely better in practice than all the others humans have tried so far. We can’t go back to others, but we urgently need to move forward to something new.

2. Do you believe that people are free to do what they want in a democracy?
– Certainly: 26%
– Probably: 35%
– Probably not: 16%
– Certainly not: 23%
My answer: I was tempted to say probably, but I think I’ll go with probably not. Not just because most people wish to harm others and of course nobody should be allowed to do that without just cause, but because either the majority or those elected tend to force their views upon the rest.

3. Which of the following do you most agree with?
– People are free from birth, naturally: 47%
– People must earn their freedom during their lives: 49%
My answer: Free from birth, of course. I thought slavery was abolished some time ago…

4. How much do you agree with the statement “freedom is the most important thing in a person’s life”?
– Fully: 72%
– Somewhat: 21%
– A little: 4%
– Not at all: 1%
My answer: Somewhat. I could in fact say I don’t agree, because there are a few things I’d certainly give up some or perhaps even many freedoms for, but let’s leave it like that.

5. Which of the following do you most agree with?
– People are born unequal: 14%
– People are born equal but then, during their lives, become different due to different circumstances: 60%
– People are born equal and remain equal throughout their lives: 21%
My answer: People are born unequal. Seriously, gather a random sample of children and see for yourself. Many will probably be comparable overall, though noticeably different from each other, but there will always be some clearly above and some others clearly below the rest, no matter the criteria used. It’s just a fact of life.

6. How much do you agree with the statement “the state must ensure greater equality between people”?
– Fully: 70%
– Somewhat: 19%
– A little: 5%
– Not at all: 3%
My answer: Fully, but only when it comes to circumstances. No affirmative action or other methods that artificially promote some and/or pull down others regardless of their respective abilities.

7. Which of the following do you most agree with?
– Freedom is more important, even if it leads to inequality: 58%
– Equality is more important, even if it leads to less freedom: 33%
My answer: This is a really difficult one, but I’m going to answer freedom, though only up to a point.

8. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
a) In a democracy, the political system favors the rich.
– Agree: 83%
– Disagree: 15%
My answer: Agree. Extremely obvious, unfortunately.
b) In a democracy, the political system malfunctions.
– Agree: 75%
– Disagree: 21%
My answer: Same as above, agree.
c) Minorities must bow to the will of the majority, regardless of the majority’s position.
– Agree: 72%
– Disagree: 23%
My answer: Very firmly disagree. That’s tyranny of the majority people, and there’s really no difference between it and a dictatorship when someone else rules your life.
d) Human rights are respected in Romania.
– Agree: 36%
– Disagree: 62%
My answer: I was thinking to say I won’t answer this, but let’s say agree, somewhat… Certainly far less than in some countries, but also far more than in many others, so…

9. How do you think most wealthy people managed to earn their fortune in Romania?
– By breaking the law: 69%
– By having connections: 17%
– Through work and personal merit: 5%
– By chance: 4%
– All of the above: 1%
– Some other means: 0%
My answer: By breaking the law. Once again, all too obvious…

10. Would you agree or disagree with:
a) One of the people close to you converting to another religion?
– Agree: 33%
– Disagree: 63%
My answer: Agree, of course. Well, obviously depends on the religion and what would be asked of them in order to follow it, but nothing wrong with the conversion itself.
b) Converting to another religion yourself?
– Agree: 6%
– Disagree: 92%
My answer: Well, I’ll say agree because I’m of course always searching and if something that seems noticeably more accurate would present itself I won’t reject it. But I spent quite a lot of years coming up with the system I now have and it can accept a lot of changes as it is, so that seems quite unlikely. There’s also the fact that converting to a certain religion usually implies that someone else came up with it and you’ll just be following it, and I’d much rather come up with my own beliefs, more or less.

11. Lately, crime in Romania has constantly been on the rise and the authorities can do nothing to stop it. The death penalty could stop this trend. If a referendum about reinstating the death penalty would be called, how would you vote?
– In favor of reinstating the death penalty: 50%
– Against reinstating the death penalty: 42%
– I wouldn’t vote: 1%
My answer: Against. Way too lenient for the few crimes that’d truly be so bad as to require such a punishment, way too harsh for anything else.

12. Lately, Romanian Gypsies have been involved in illegal activities in Western countries: theft, prostitution, drug trafficking and others, badly staining Romania’s image. If a referendum about withdrawing such people’s citizenship would be called, how would you vote?
– In favor of withdrawing their citizenship: 55%
– Against withdrawing their citizenship: 32%
– I wouldn’t vote: 4%
My answer: In favor, but with one very important note: This applies to all Romanian citizens who go to other countries and commit either major crimes or crimes which become major due to receiving a lot of media attention; ethnicity has nothing to do with it.

13. Lately, some ethnic Hungarians have been requesting autonomy for the SzĂ©kely Land. If a referendum about withdrawing such people’s citizenship would be called, how would you vote?
– In favor of withdrawing their citizenship: 36%
– Against withdrawing their citizenship: 46%
– I wouldn’t vote: 6%
My answer: Against. It’s their right to bring up the issue and there should be serious discussions about it, not the kind of reactions we currently see. Independence is clearly off the table, but I wouldn’t see the problem with administrative autonomy, for example. Romania could even become a federal state, made up of a number of mostly autonomous regions answering only in certain matters to a central government, and this could be one of those regions, so they could get most of what they want without even requiring to be given a special status.

14. Lately, some people have been disagreeing with Orthodox Christian teachings and displaying a critical attitude towards the Orthodox Christian religion and the Romanian Orthodox Church, so they could potentially be accused of offense against a public institution and blasphemy. Charging them with a criminal offense and punishing them through fines or even incarceration could stop this trend. If a referendum about punishing these people in such a way would be called, how would you vote?
– In favor of such punishments for these people: 42%
– Against such punishments for these people: 41%
– I wouldn’t vote: 6%
My answer: Against, of course! Or do I need to quote the Constitution to you, where it says Romania has no state religion?

15. Do you believe that:
a) Most people would try to take advantage of you if they could?
– Yes: 64%
– No: 32%
My answer: Yes. Once again, it’s unfortunately all too obvious.
b) Most people try to be of use to society?
– Yes: 42%
– No: 56%
My answer: No, most people just try to be of use to themselves. Not that this particular society we live in is worth fighting for in any way, but that’s another matter.
c) We can generally trust most people?
– Yes: 31%
– No: 68%
My answer: Absolutely not. See what I said above about most just looking out for themselves.

16. If you were to rate from 1 to 10, where 1 means you have no confidence at all and 10 means you trust most, which confidence rating would you award the following categories?
a) Your family members: 9.3 on average.
My answer: 4.
b) People who share your views: 7.6 on average.
My answer: 8.
c) Your coworkers: 6.9 on average.
My answer: Not applicable.
d) Your neighbors: 6.6 on average.
My answer: 3.
e) People whose religious beliefs differ from yours: 6.3 on average.
My answer: I refuse to answer this. That in itself has no relevance on the matter at hand and I couldn’t possibly know a statistically significant number of them to be able to estimate otherwise.
f) Foreigners: 5.6 on average.
My answer: Same as above, I can’t answer this.

17. If you were to lose your wallet or purse, how likely do you think you’d be to get them back if found by:
a) A neighbor or someone who works nearby?
– Likely: 56%
– Unlikely: 43%
My answer: Let’s say likely. Not likely to have the money returned as well, but they didn’t ask that. Not that I have a wallet, but let’s just go with it.
b) A cop?
– Likely: 54%
– Unlikely: 43%
My answer: Likely. Hopefully…
c) A stranger?
– Likely: 17%
– Unlikely: 82%
My answer: Unlikely.

But this is getting too long already and I think I’d better stop here. Part two, if I’ll still be in any condition to post it, will start with one of the things that the media tends to focus on a lot when it comes to such surveys, namely people’s confidence in public institutions.

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