The Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities – Skopje conducted a survey on public opinion from November- December, 2015 for the purposes of the project “Civil Society Organizations for Advocacy and Promotion of the Right to Free Expression and Free Association” as part of CivicaMobilitas’ project on supporting civil society. The representative sample included eight regions in the Republic of Macedonia: the Vardar region, Eastern region, Southwest region, Southeast region, Pelagonija region, Polog region, Northeast and the Skopje region.
The survey findings provide a snapshot of the citizens’ perceptions on civic activism, the citizens’ motivation in joining civic initiatives, their opinion regarding different forms of action, such as: plenums, nonprofits etc. Furthermore, the results reveal the citizens’ opinions and beliefs on the government’s restrictive policies, mostly concerning the fines as a form of censorship, restricting the right of association.
In the first part of the survey the respondents replied to what extent they agreed with the suggested opinions on the necessity and importance of civil activism, and the need for people’s more active involvement in the public policies and decisions in the Republic of Macedonia. In regards to how motivated they were to participate in any civil initiative, the majority have a positive perception on civil activism. They believe that civil activism is useful and necessary to influence public policy (66%) or create social changes (55%).
More than two-thirds of the respondents (70%) would join a civil initiative if it concerns them or if it concerns someone they are close to (69%). The respondents are least likely to join a civil initiative if it concerns the political party they support(18%).
Civil activism can be expressed differently, through civil initiatives, protests, plenums, representation and activism in one of the nonprofits organizations. The survey findings reveal that the majority of those who took part in civil initiatives preferred to protest or rally (49%) or sign a petition (46%).
The citizens rated the work of nonprofit organizations as 3, if 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest ranking.
Regarding their rights, 44% of the respondents would join some kind of citizens’ plenum. This illustrates the trust that people have in this kind of civil activism.
The reasons that would prevent them from participating in a civil initiative are: not trusting the organizers (24%), not having time for such activities (22%) or thinking that nothing would change even if they do participate (19%). A small percentage (8%) indicated that they would not participate in a civil initiative because they are afraid not to harm themselves or people close to them.
The respondents believe that the Government controls businesses, education and media to a large extent. The average rating is 3,94 (from 1 to 5 where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest ranking), which shows that people believe that the Government exerts great control over these social aspects.
In regards to the prescribed fines, the majority of respondents believe that the number of fines should be significantly reduced (66%). They also agree that so many fines get issued only to bolster the budget or make the citizens afraid.
One of the most sensitive questions in the survey was: Have you ever decided not to participate in a civil initiative because you were afraid of being punished? The cumulative percentage of those who gave a positive reply and those who refused to respond is 28%, which is almost a third of the respondents. This demonstrates that the fear from being punished, if they decide to join a civil initiative, does exist for some of the citizens.
You can find the results of the survey on the link below: