Of Eurobarometer findings and of discrepancies in polls

by Antonis D. Papagiannidis

The Eurobarometer, a public opinion survey regularly conducted for the European institutions ever since the mid-Seventies, can at times be revealing of opinion undercurrents that have little to do with established perceptions – either at EU or at national level.

Just some days before the bandwagon called ‘The Future of Europe” gets rolling, that is, the – supposedly radically forward-looking-calling of European citizens over the post-pandemic era, Europeans are positive (65%) over the Union’s contribution to regional stability and largely supportive (81%) of the notion that the Future of Europe Conference should contribute to ameliorate the Unions’ role in crisis situations.

The powers that be – at European level – can feel comfortable with such findings; still, the same respondents call (by more than 2/3) for the Commission President to be named following the Spitzenkandidaten procedure through the European Parliament – exactly the opposite of the path followed by heads of State and Government by naming (underperforming) Ursula von der Leyen to that post! Close to half of the respondents (42%) would opt for supranational voting lists in European Parliament elections, thus endowing the E.P. with effective “European” legitimacy: not an easy step…

If such findings sound partly disrupting at European level, even more interesting Eurobarometer findings result at national level. Speaking of Greece, public opinion optimism is not present; 78% of those polled consider the overall situation in the country “bad”, 65% see it moving in the “wrong direction” (31% in the right one); the state of the economy is considered even worse than the overall situation of the country (90%), while employment is painted in resolutely somber colours (at 92%). Measures taken to face the pandemic are considered satisfactory no more than by 61% of respondents.

This array of public opinion findings (to be noted: they refer to February-March) have little to do with finds of local opinion polls we have been tracking as of lately in Greece. Coming from the Government benches, a rebuttal of the salience of Eurobarometer partly confirms its findings as such; Deputy Minister of State Theodore Livanios compared the situation of 2021 with the Eurobarometer findings in November 2018. Since then, there is a 12 percentage points amelioration in the appreciation of the overall situation of the country, a 4 points amelioration of the perceived economic situation, a 5 points amelioration in the  employment situation; also, those polled back in 2018 considered by 77% the country was moving in the wrong direction as opposed to 65% now.

Who said that opinion polls make the lives of politicians – or of journalists, at that – easier?