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Serbians More Positive on Local Public Services

by Ian T. Brown

Satisfaction up against backdrop of political stability and progress

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While Serbian attitudes toward Kosovan independence have received a good deal of foreign media attention, Gallup finds Serbian attitudes toward their own communities quietly improving. Gallup polled Serbians in January 2007 and again in September 2008 and found that residents' satisfaction with local public services jumped significantly.


Majorities of Serbs in 2008 said they were satisfied with various aspects of their local infrastructure. Nearly two in three Serbs said they were satisfied with the public transportation and educational systems in their communities. Overall, 74% of Serbs are satisfied with their city, up from 69% in 2007.

Many factors have likely contributed to this jump in satisfaction. One possible factor is that Serbians have enjoyed stable leadership for the past three years. Serbia had three times failed to elect a new president between 2002 and 2004 because of low voter turnout. In June 2004, Serbians elected Boris Tadic to the post (only after changing Serbia's electoral law to reduce the percentage of voters needed to elect a new president), and re-elected him in February 2008. Some Serbian public services, such as education and healthcare, are governed at the national level.

Boris Tadic
Serbian President Boris Tadic in Vienna's Hofburg palace, Austria, on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Lilli Strauss)

Another possible factor is that Tadic bettered Serbia's chances for EU membership in 2008 by pledging governmental reform. In February and April 2008, Serbia and the European Union signed agreements establishing stabilization goals and tightening trade and financial assistance ties. The Serbian public showed its support for this partnership in the May parliamentary elections by backing the pro-European coalition party led by Tadic. In 2007, the European Union provided Serbia with more than 181 million for transition assistance and institution building. The country received another 179 million in 2008, and it will continue to receive assistance in the coming years.

An important criterion for EU membership is the ability of countries to transport their products to EU markets. This means having quality roads and highways. Of the seven candidate and potential candidate countries, only Croatia outranks Serbia in terms of respondents satisfaction with their roads and highways. Serbian satisfaction was statistically similar to satisfaction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, and Montenegro.


Bottom Line

Just as Kosovans' attitudes improved toward their national government between 2007 and 2008, so too has Serbians' satisfaction with their public services. While citizens in these two countries may differ on their support of Kosovan independence, they do not have a zero-sum relationship. A gain in Kosovo does not mean a loss in Serbia, or vice versa. Between 2007 and 2008, Kosovan and Serbian attitudes improved toward respective aspects of their nation. In Serbia, the stability of national leadership and the reforms and assistance pledged through potential EU membership could be two factors that are revitalizing the quality of local public services.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 to 1,556 adults in Serbia, aged 15 and older, conducted in January 2007 and September 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.2 to 3.5 percentage points.

Results are also based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 to 1,047 adults in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.5 to 4.0 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


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