05BUCHAREST1084 / 2005-05-05 12:03:00
Embassy Bucharest
                UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 BUCHAREST 001084 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, SOCI, KDEM, ECON, IZ, RO, poll 
SUBJECT:  POLLS SHOW ROMANIANS' VIEWS ON IRAQ, EU 
INTEGRATION, AND OTHER KEY ISSUES 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: Two recent polls show mixed results about 
Romanian military engagement in Iraq, with numbers varying 
as to when and how the question was asked.  Results 
generated by an April 23-24 poll directly linking a pull-out 
to saving Romanian hostages' lives showed 70 percent in 
favor of a troop withdrawal.  Two weeks earlier, similar 
questions showed a plurality of respondents favoring 
maintaining or increasing Romanian military engagement in 
Iraq.  Post provides the following results of diverse 
polling in past weeks as a useful "snapshot" of the Romanian 
public's thinking on Iraq as well as topical issues such as 
EU integration, possible early elections, effectiveness of 
current political leaders, discrimination in society, etc. 
End Summary. 
 
Opposed to Troops in Iraq? 
-------------------------- 
2. (U) The Center for Urban and Regional Sociology (CURS) 
conducted a national blitz poll April 23 and 24 regarding 
the presence of Romanian troops in Iraq.  CURS queried 1,020 
subjects over 18 years of age shortly after kidnappers 
threatened that they would kill three Romanian journalists 
held hostage in Iraq unless the Romanian government 
withdraws its troops from Iraq.  The poll has a maximum 
error of 3 percent and was commissioned by TV channel 
"Antena 1."  Asked whether Romania should pull out its 
troops from Iraq, as the kidnappers have demanded, in order 
to save the journalists' lives, respondents answered as 
follows: 
70 percent - yes 
18 percent - no 
12 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
A break-down on gender, age, education, and residence area 
categories yielded the following results: 
 
Gender 
Men 
63 percent - yes 
25 percent - no 
12 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Women 
76 percent - yes 
10 percent - no 
14 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Age 
18-30 years of age 
67 percent - yes 
20 percent - no 
13 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
31-55 years of age 
71 percent - yes 
18 percent - no 
11 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
56 years of age and over 
73 percent - yes 
15 percent - no 
12 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Education 
Primary school 
78 percent - yes 
11 percent - no 
11 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
High school 
71 percent - yes 
18 percent - no 
11 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Higher education 
62 percent - yes 
26 percent - no 
12 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Area of residence 
Urban 
65 percent - yes 
23 percent - no 
12 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Rural 
74 percent - yes 
13 percent - no 
13 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
3.  (U) When asked whether Romania should pull out its 
troops whether or not the journalists are released, the 
respondents stated: 
57 percent - yes 
33 percent - no 
10 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
4.  (SBU) Requested to give grades on an ascending 1 to 10 
scale, the respondents indicated an average 7.2 for the 
manner in which the media covered the crisis of the hostages 
and an average 6.9 regarding the authorities' efforts to 
solve the crisis. 
 
5.  (SBU) The poll's results triggered controversy 
immediately when media magnate Dan Voiculescu, who owns 
"Antena 1,"  expressed support for a troop pull-out based on 
the poll's results.   Voiculescu heads the Romanian Humanist 
Party (PUR), which is in alliance with the center-right 
government, but is suspected by some of being a "Trojan 
horse," retaining loyalty to its erstwhile ally, the former 
ruling, center-left Social Democratic Party (PSD). 
Governing Liberal-Democratic (PNL-PD) Alliance leaders 
responded, however, that crucial foreign policy decisions 
should not be based on polls taken during an emotionally 
charged time.  Indeed, CURS Director Sebastian Lazaroiu 
acknowledged that the percentage of those in favor of the 
withdrawal of the troops would have been lower under "normal 
conditions." 
 
Poll Prior to Hostage Crisis Shows Different Results 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
6.  (SBU)  A separate poll carried out by the National 
Institute for Opinion Polls and Marketing (INSOMAR) between 
April 12 and 17 and commissioned by a trade union, PETROM, 
shows that a narrow plurality favor keeping troops in Iraq 
or increasing their numbers.  The poll was conducted 
nationwide on a sample of 1,668 people of over 18 years of 
age and had a maximum error of 2.4 percent.  Significantly, 
the poll took place after the hostages were in custody and a 
film of them had been released by their captors but, unlike 
the CURS poll, it was conducted prior to the release of a 
disturbing second film portraying the hostages held at 
gunpoint and threatened with death.  Asked what course of 
action the government should consider after the kidnap of 
Romanian citizens, the respondents answered as follows: 
40.3 percent - should withdraw the troops from Iraq, 
34.3 percent - should keep the troops in Iraq, 
7.5 percent - should increase military presence in Iraq, 
17.9 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
7. (U) Asked whether they think the Presidency is making 
sufficient efforts to release the Romanian journalists from 
Iraq, respondents answered as follows: 
60.4 percent - yes 
26.7 percent - no 
12.9 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
To the same question, but regarding the government, the 
respondents said the following: 
54.8 percent - yes 
30.3 percent - no 
14.9 percent - don't know/no answer. 
 
Most Romanians "Satisfied" with Political Leaders 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
8.  (U) Asked to express their degree of satisfaction with 
President Basescu's activities, respondents indicated the 
following: 
12 percent - very satisfied 
51 percent - pretty satisfied 
25 percent - pretty dissatisfied 
11 percent - very dissatisfied 
 
As for the degree of satisfaction with the Tariceanu 
government's activities, the respondents answered as 
follows: 
8 percent - very satisfied 
47 percent - pretty satisfied 
32 percent - pretty dissatisfied 
13 percent - very dissatisfied 
 
Poll Shows PNL-PD Alliance Would Win Early Elections 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
9.  (U) When asked which party or political alliance they 
would vote for if elections were to take place next Sunday, 
respondents answered the INSOMAR poll as follows: 
55.8 percent - PNL-PD Alliance 
26.4 percent - Social Democratic Party (PSD) 
8.2 percent - Greater Romania Popular Party (PPRM) 
3.0 percent - Democratic Union of Hungarians (UDMR) 
2.1 percent - Romanian Humanist Party (PUR) 
1.2 percent - Christian-Democratic Popular Party (PPCD) 
3.2 percent - other party 
 
(Comment: These results tend to support President Basescu's 
assertion that the center-right PNL-PD alliance would 
trounce the PSD if early elections take place.  Based on 
these results both the UDMR and PUR would risk losing their 
parliamentary representation, since a party must gain five 
percent of the national vote to have a voice in parliament. 
End Comment.) 
 
10.  (SBU) Break-downs on education, age and residence area 
indicate the preference of all education categories for the 
PNL-PD Alliance, with a larger majority of those with higher 
education favoring the PNL-PD.  Respondents under 65 years 
of age are more inclined to vote for the PNL-PD Alliance, 
whereas those over 65 years of age lean toward PSD.  The 
largest differences in favor of the PNL-PD Alliance appear 
in the 18-34 and 35-49 age categories.  A large majority of 
urban respondents favor the PNL-PD Alliance whereas in rural 
areas, traditionally a PSD stronghold, support is almost 
equally distributed between the PNL-PD Alliance and the PSD, 
with a slight advantage for the former.  (Note: the INSOMAR 
pollsters did not release the complete statistical results 
for the categories described in this paragraph.  End Note.) 
 
11.  (SBU) A large majority of the INSOMAR respondents would 
rather vote for individual candidates than for party slates, 
as follows: 
63.4 percent - would prefer to vote for individual 
candidates 
17.6 percent - would prefer to vote for party slates 
19.O percent - provided no answer 
 
Fearing God.and Trusting the Church 
----------------------------------- 
12. (SBU) When asked by the INSOMAR pollsters what they 
fear, Romanians responded:  God (91 percent), disease (88 
percent), price increases (83 percent), poverty (82 percent) 
and corruption (76 percent).  Asked about institutions, the 
respondents stated that they have "much confidence or very 
much confidence" in the church (87 percent), army (72 
percent), media (62 percent), and Presidency (53 percent). 
The least trusted institutions are Parliament (27 percent), 
trade unions (30 percent), the judiciary (34 percent), and 
the government (37 percent). 
 
13.  (SBU)  Most Romanians express a high level of trust in 
the church, with a majority attending regular religious 
services at least several times a month.  When asked how 
often they go to church, respondents gave the following 
answers: 
33.8 percent - several times/year, on the main religious 
holidays (Christmas, Easter) 
23.6 percent - several times/month 
21.7 percent - once a week 
11.6 percent - once a year or less 
6.2 percent - several times a week 
3.3 percent - don't go at all 
 
City Folk Rosy on EU 
---------------------- 
14. (U) The Institute for Free Initiative and CURS conducted 
a poll between March 17 and 23 on a sample of 1,208 people 
aged 18 years or older of age from urban areas.  The survey 
had a maximum error of plus-minus 2.8 percent.  More than a 
month prior to President Basescu's April 25 signing of the 
EU accession treaty, pollsters asked respondents whether 
they support Romania's EU accession.  Respondents answered 
as follows: 
85 percent - yes 
10 percent - no 
5 percent - can't tell 
15. (U) When asked their opinion on how their everyday life 
would change if Romania becomes an EU member, respondents 
said: 
43 percent - for the better 
26 percent - it will be the same 
16 percent - for the worse 
15 percent - can't tell 
 
16.  (U) Asked which of three alternatives they would favor 
regarding reforms that imply economic sacrifices for the 
population (decrease in living standards), the respondents 
favored the following opinions: 
53 percent - Romania should implement reforms faster in 
order to integrate with the EU in 2007 
34 percent - Romania should implement reforms gradually even 
if this means postponing integration. 
 
17.  (U) In answer to a question regarding possible 
obstacles to EU integration, the respondents indicated the 
following: 
29 percent - corruption 
14 percent - behavior of Romanians abroad 
13 percent - way in which the Romanian economy operates 
12 percent - Romania's failure to meet assumed commitments 
9 percent  - low living standard 
9 percent - political instability 
8 percent - low competitiveness of Romanian companies on the 
EU market 
4 percent - economic and political interests of other 
countries 
2 percent - can't tell 
 
18.  (U) According to the poll, urban Romanians think that 
"significant effects" of Romania's EU integration will be: 
price increases (81 percent), increased foreign investment 
in the Romanian economy (79 percent), shutdown of some 
companies (74 percent), Romania will become a market for 
Western products (71 percent), development of Romanian 
agriculture (65 percent), tax increase (63 percent), 
decrease of corruption in Romania (54 percent), increase of 
unemployment (51 percent), increase of Romanians' incomes 
(50 percent), and increase of inflation rate (39 percent). 
 
Gallup Poll: Youth Optimistic, Apathetic 
---------------------------------------- 
19.  (U) The Gallup Organization and the British Council 
released April 12 results of a joint opinion poll designed 
to provide an image of Romanian youth.  The survey was 
conducted between May and November 2004 in Bucharest, 
Brasov, Cluj, Constanta, Iasi, Sibiu, and Timisoara, on a 
sample group of 1004 people between 15 and 35 years of age. 
Margin of error is plus-minus 3.0%.  The survey's questions 
focused on EU integration, tolerance toward minorities, 
equal opportunity for men and women, and interest in the 
political life and civic involvement, among other issues. 
Gallup also used focus groups to supplement findings of the 
survey. 
 
20.  (U)  When asked their views of EU integration, 56 
percent of the respondents said they believe that it will 
bring more personal advantages than disadvantages; 27 
percent believe it will bring them neither advantages nor 
disadvantages; 8 percent believed it would bring more 
disadvantages, and 9 percent had no reply or did not know. 
61 percent believed their personal income would increase 
with EU accession, and 50 percent believed it would increase 
their opportunities to study abroad. 
 
21.  (U) At the same time, young Romanian respondents 
expressed little interest in political life.  78 percent are 
not interested at all, are interested to a very small 
extent, or to a small extent in anything that is perceived 
as political activity, i.e. joining a party, going to the 
polls, or being informed about political developments. 
Young people are also reluctant to do volunteer work, with 
59 percent of the respondents expressing little or no 
interest in such activities.  (Comment:  Many Romanians have 
a jaundiced view of volunteerism since during the communist 
era "volunteer work" was, in fact, mandatory service.  End 
Comment.) 
 
22.  (U) Regarding minorities, respondents were asked a 
question regarding individuals who are gay/lesbian, Roma, 
Hungarian, or disabled.  For each minority category, 
pollsters asked respondents to chose from the following 
answers: such people should not live in Romania; I would 
accept them to live in Romania; I would accept such a person 
to live in my town; I would accept such a person to be my 
colleague at work; I would accept such a person to be in my 
group of friends; I would accept such a person to be a 
member of my family.  For sexual minorities, 21 percent of 
the respondents agreed with the statement that "such people 
should not live in Romania" while 24 percent favored "I 
would accept them to live in Romania"; only 5 percent of 
respondents said they accept sexual minorities as members of 
their families.  As for ethnic minorities, 11 percent of the 
respondents think that Roma should not live in Romania and 9 
percent share this opinion for ethnic Hungarians.  The 
respondents showed a high acceptance level for disabled 
people and there were no negative remarks about them in the 
focus groups.  Focus groups also revealed a high intolerance 
for Roma.  The cluster analysis indicated, in terms of 
tolerance, that 15 percent of the respondents showed 
rejection, 44 percent were moderately tolerant, while 41 
percent showed high acceptance.  Most young Romanian men (69 
percent) think that women have as many rights as needed, 18 
percent believe women have too few rights, 9 percent opine 
women have too many rights, and 4 percent don't know/don't 
answer.  Women have a different opinion, 56 percent of the 
respondents opining that women have too few rights, 40 
percent thinking that they have as many rights as needed, 1 
percent believe women have too many rights, 3 percent don't 
know/don't answer. 
 
23.  (U) While most respondents are satisfied with the 
possibilities to travel to cities for recreation and to 
study in the cities, a majority (68 percent) are 
"dissatisfied" or "not too satisfied" with urban job 
opportunities.  Knowledge of foreign languages, solid 
professional education and PC and IT abilities are the three 
qualities judged by young people to be the most useful for 
getting a good job.  For 84 percent of respondents, a good 
salary heads the list of the top three important criteria in 
choosing a job.  The next two priorities are a safe job and 
a pleasant working environment.  A majority of respondents 
do not go at all to classic music concerts (69 percent), 
opera (73 percent), theatre (54 percent), ballet (80 
percent), or exhibits (66 percent). 
 
24.  (U) The respondents gave a positive appraisal of the 
Romanian education system; 61 percent of them think that 
what is taught in Romanian schools is useful for students 
further in life.  Regarding IT, 88 and 80 percent of the 
respondents use computers and the internet, respectively. 
68 percent of the respondents report that they speak one or 
two foreign languages fluently. 
 
25.  (SBU) Comment.  We are hesitant to draw far-reaching 
conclusions regarding the CURS polling on a troop pullout 
from Iraq, given both the emotionally charged atmosphere in 
which the polling was conducted and PUR leader-Antenna 1 
owner Dan Voiculescu's potentially ambiguous political 
motivations.  A better sense of Romanian attitudes toward 
their Iraqi role will probably emerge after resolution of 
the current hostage situation. However, these polls offer a 
"snapshot" of current Romanian attitudes toward both "front 
page" issues and social values.  What is clear is that 
Romanians are generally satisfied with Basescu and the new 
government and optimistic about their future within the EU. 
It is also clear that the political divide evident during 
November/December elections between rural and urban voters 
and the elderly and other population groups has widened in 
the past several months.  Even more than before, support for 
the previously omnipotent Social Democrats (PSD) has 
shrunken to a bedrock of elderly and rural voters.  That 
does not bode well for its future.  Also significant are 
prejudicial Romanian social attitudes toward gays and Roma. 
Levels of acceptance, even among presumably more "open" 
younger Romanians, are very low.  End Comment. 
26.  (U) Amembassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are 
available on the Bucharest SIPRNET Website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest. 
 
DELARE 

            
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