The Institute of Public Policies (IPP) has publicly presented the results of the latest edition of the Public Opinion Barometer (BOB), which encompasses data obtained in July – August 2023. This edition of the BOB benefits from the financial support of the Soros Moldova Foundation, reflecting the commitment of both organizations to gaining a profound understanding of public opinion in the Republic of Moldova.
The survey was conducted from August 9th to August 23rd, with a sample of 1,215 individuals from 95 localities, representative of the adult population of the Republic of Moldova (excluding the Transnistrian region). The maximum margin of error was ±3%. Data collection was rigorously managed by the Center for Social and Marketing Studies “CBS-Research,” while the detailed analysis was carried out by experts from the Institute of Public Policies. The “Public Opinion Barometer – 2023” program was overseen by a select jury, under the leadership of Dr. Arcadie Barbaroșie, Executive Director of IPP. Among the jury members were Dr. Ludmila Malcoci, Regional Director Executive Director of Keystone Moldova, Igor Boțan, Director of ADEPT, Victor Ciobanu, independent expert, Mariana Calughin, legal expert, and Vitalie Călugăreanu, journalist.
The majority of the population believes that the direction in which things are heading in the Republic of Moldova is wrong (57.8%). The proportion of individuals holding this opinion has decreased by approximately 8% compared to the research conducted in the fall of 2022.
The opinion regarding the direction of global affairs does not differ significantly from the direction in the Republic of Moldova. Thus, the proportion of the population considering the direction to be wrong is 57.8%, while 24.4% view it as right. Compared to the fall 2022 research, the proportion of respondents who see the direction as right has increased by about 6%.
The population remains predominantly dissatisfied with the actions of the country’s leadership in several areas. The aspects that generate the most dissatisfaction among the population are pensions (59% are not satisfied at all, and 23.9% are not very satisfied), industry (52.6% are not satisfied at all, and 25.3% are not very satisfied), salaries (51.1% are not satisfied at all, and 31.1% are not very satisfied), fighting corruption (55.1% are not satisfied at all, and 24.1% are not very satisfied), the state of employment (43.1% and 30.8%), and the standard of living (42.6% and 33.5%). A more positive opinion was recorded in areas such as healthcare, education, and culture (in these areas, approximately 30% said they were satisfied enough or very satisfied with the state of affairs, although the majority of respondents still had a negative opinion about the state of affairs in these areas).
Over half of the respondents are not satisfied with the current economic situation in the Republic of Moldova – 62.3% mentioned that they are not satisfied with it, compared to the previous study, the proportion of those dissatisfied has decreased by about 8%. One in ten people is satisfied with the current economic situation in the country, and 24.3% indicated that they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
The population looks at the future with some optimism and also has a favorable opinion about the past. Thus, compared to a year ago, about half of the respondents (48.1%) believed that the situation had become slightly worse (20.9%) or much worse (27.2%), while 19.4% believed that the situation had become slightly better, and only 2.4% of respondents considered that significant changes for the better had occurred. Cumulatively, the proportion of people who believe that the situation has deteriorated has decreased by about 20 percentage points compared to the previous study. Regarding people’s hopes, it can be observed that 4% believe that the country’s economic situation will be much better in a year, 23.6% believe that at least minor improvements will occur, 21.2% do not believe that anything will change, and 32.1% believe that changes for the worse will occur.
The population believes that improving the functioning of the legal system could improve the country’s socio-economic situation. 31.7% support this idea, of which 15% believe that this is worth doing primarily, changing the country’s leadership (41.9%), developing industries (35%), combating crime in the country (28.9%), supporting small entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector (28.5%), attracting more foreign investment (24.3%), increasing the role of the state in directing the economy (17.1%), improving the performance of state power bodies (15.9%), providing more incentives to the private sector (12%), and ensuring the protection of citizens’ property (11.5%).
Quality of Life – Social Issues
The population’s primary concerns are prices (47.0%), poverty (46.7%), the future of their children, a concern for 42.1% of respondents, and about one-third of respondents (35.1%) worry about a potential war in the region.
Overall, the population is not satisfied with their way of life – 35.2% indicated that they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, while 33.2% are not satisfied, and only 31% mentioned that they are satisfied (compared to the previous research, the proportion of satisfied respondents has increased by approximately 4 percentage points).
The aspects that generate the most dissatisfaction among the population are the country’s political life (45.7% indicated that they are not satisfied at all, and an additional 29.5% are not very satisfied), the amount of money (the combined proportion of those dissatisfied is 66.5%). Healthcare frustrates 55.8% of respondents. Aspects that were more positively rated than the rest include housing (78% were satisfied), employment (60.9%), transportation (60.1%), cleanliness and maintenance of the locality (57.3%), and education (50.4%).
Regarding their assessment of their own lives, it is observed that 20.4% of respondents believe that life is better now than it was a year ago, while about 35.9% of them mentioned that their life has worsened in the past year. They have confidence that their life will change for the better in a year (28.6%), while one-fourth of respondents (26.2%) believe that their life will not undergo any changes in a year, and 22% of them believe that their life will change for the worse in a year.
Approximately one-fifth (21%) of respondents indicated that they do not have enough money even for basic necessities, while an additional 28.5% mentioned that they have enough only for basic necessities. About one-fourth of respondents (27.5%) stated that they have enough money for a decent standard of living but cannot afford more expensive goods, and 7.9% of respondents mentioned that they can buy some more expensive goods but with restrictions in other areas, and only 3.8% mentioned that they can afford anything without limiting themselves in any way.
The internet is the primary source of information – 76.3% use the internet daily, and 70% indicated that it is the most important source of information for them. Television comes in second, with 56.5% of the population using it daily and 55.8% naming it as the most important source of information. Radio is third, being listened to daily by 29.4%, and 15.2% of those interviewed named it as the most important source of information. The press and books remain the choice of the minority.
Speaking of trust in information sources, it can be observed that the internet is also the source that inspires the most trust among the population – 38.5% stated so (7 percentage points more than in the previous study). Television occupies the second position, with 20.4% (4 percentage points less than in the study from the fall of 2022). Family, with 5.9%, is in third place, followed by friends and neighbors with 4.2% in fourth place, and radio with only 3.8% in fifth place.
Domestic mass media in the Republic of Moldova enjoys a higher level of trust, with a rate of 51.3%, followed by mass media from the EU at 41.3%, Romania at 40.1%, and mass media from the Russian Federation, in which only 27.5% have trust. In the mass media of the USA and Ukraine, only about a quarter of respondents have trust.
Approximately 40% of respondents claim that in the 21st century, people in the Republic of Moldova have no access to information (9.4%) or have limited access (30.7%). Slightly more than half of respondents argue the opposite, stating that access to information is largely (34%) or very largely (20.5%) free.
Less than half (45%) of respondents feel free to speak their minds about the country’s leadership, while the proportion of those who feel free to take to the streets and protest against decisions made by the country’s leadership is lower, at 36.5%.
About one-quarter of the population (25.7%) is very interested or quite interested in politics, while another 32.6% indicated that they are neither very interested nor uninterested, and the remaining 40.9% of respondents mentioned that they are not interested in politics.
The institutions in which the proportion of those who have trust exceeds the proportion of those who do not have trust are the church (29.3% have a lot of trust, and 28.7% have some trust) and the local mayor’s office (17.3% have a lot of trust, and 38.1% have some trust). The institutions that remain in this top list of trust are media (correspondingly – 5.1% and 35.9%), the police (correspondingly – 5.1% and 31.7%), banks (correspondingly – 5.4% and 30.4%), the country’s president (correspondingly – 14.6% and 21.2%), and the military (correspondingly – 5.9% and 26.7%). Trade unions and political parties have the lowest level of trust from the population, with 21.1% and 17.3% expressing trust in them, respectively. Leaders in terms of lack of trust among the population are institutions such as political parties (78.4% do not trust), the judiciary (72.5% do not trust), Parliament (71.3% do not trust), and the government (69.5% do not trust). Compared to the previous study, trust in certain public institutions has increased by approximately 2-5 percentage points.
Regarding political personalities in whom the population has trust, it can be observed that 45.4% do not have trust in any politician, while another 13.2% could not respond to this question. In the rest, they trust: Maia Sandu – 19.6%, Igor Dodon – 6.9%, Ilan Shor – 3.7%, Vladimir Voronin – 2.1%, Ion Ceban – 1.7%, Ion Chicu – 1.6%, and Renato Usatîi – approximately 1.2%. When asked to indicate their level of trust in certain politicians, the leader of this rating is Maia Sandu – 37.6% (2 percentage points more than in the previous study), followed by Igor Dodon – 29.6% (6 percentage points more than in the previous study), Ion Ceban – 26.1% (4 percentage points more than in the previous study), Ilan Shor – 25%, Vladimir Voronin – 23.3%, Renato Usatîi – 16.5%, Igor Grosu – 17.5%, Dorin Recean – 15.3%, and Ion Chicu – 14.5%.
In terms of political parties, PAS recorded the highest positive score in terms of trust – 32.3% (2 percentage points more than in the previous study), followed by PSRM – 25.8% (5 percentage points less than in the previous study), P. Renașterii / PȘor – 20.9%, PCRM – 19.6%, PPDA – 13.5%, PSDE – 8%, PLDM – 7.5%, MAN – 7.3%, and in P. Schimbării, PC Civic, and PDCM, less than 6% of respondents have trust.
If parliamentary elections were held next Sunday, 68.1% of the adult population is absolutely sure they would vote, while another 13.7% say they would probably vote. About 15% indicated that they probably would not come to the polling stations.
Thus, when asked which party they would vote for, 24.1% indicated PAS (-0.5 percentage points compared to the previous study), 13.4% – PSRM (+3.2 percentage points compared to the previous study), 8.6% – PP ȘOR (-1.5 percentage points compared to the previous study), and 3.6% – PCRM (-0.3 percentage points compared to the previous study). The other parties garnered less than 2%. 43% of respondents declared themselves undecided.
If presidential elections were held next Sunday, 70.1% of the adult population is absolutely sure they would vote, while another 17.1% say they would probably vote. About 9.6% indicated that they probably would not come to the polling stations.
Thus, when asked which candidate they would vote for, 29.41% indicated Maia Sandu (+2 percentage points compared to the previous study), 18.1% – Igor Dodon (-3 percentage points compared to the previous study), 5.6% – Ion Ceban (-1.5 percentage points compared to the previous study), and 5.1% – Renato Usatii (+2 percentage points compared to the previous study), 4.1% – Ion Chicu, and 3.2% – Ilan Shor (-6 percentage points compared to the previous study). The other candidates garnered less than 2%. 30% of respondents declared themselves undecided.
According to the majority, Moldova is not governed by the will of the people (63.3%).
The majority of respondents believe that elections in Moldova are not free and fair (61.7%).
The current relations of the Republic of Moldova with Romania have been rated the most positively – 63.3% considered them good, and 13% – very good. Following this, relations with the European Union are also perceived positively by 73.4%, with Ukraine – 70.2%, with the USA – 64.5%, and with NATO – 59% of respondents rated them as good or very good. In contrast, only 20.3% of respondents mentioned good or very good relations with the Russian Federation.
If a referendum on Moldova’s accession to the European Union were to take place next Sunday, 49.7% would vote in favor, and 32.8% would vote against. Another 21.5% could not decide.
If a vote were required on Moldova’s accession to the Eurasian Union (Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan), 37.6% expressed intentions to vote in favor, while 41.8% would vote against accession. Another 20.7% could not decide.
When asked to choose between Moldova’s accession to the European Union and the Eurasian Union, 47% chose the first, while 32.5% chose the second. Another 20.5% did not provide a response.
In the respondents’ opinion, Moldova’s accession to the European Union would bring more advantages than accession to the Eurasian Union; thus, 49% of respondents believe that EU accession would bring benefits to Moldova, while the proportion of those who believe this regarding Moldova’s accession to the Eurasian Union is only 39.9%.
If a referendum on Moldova’s accession to NATO were to take place next Sunday, 26.5% would vote in favor, and 54% would vote against. Another 19.5% could not decide.
If a vote were required on the unification of Moldova with Romania, 34.1% expressed intentions to vote in favor, while 49.1% would vote against unification. Another 17% could not decide.
When asked to indicate the level of trust in foreign political personalities, respondents showed the greatest trust in Klaus Iohannis – 35.5%, Vladimir Putin – 33.1%, followed by Emmanuel Macron – 32.7%, Olaf Scholz – 31%, Volodymyr Zelenskyy – 29.6%, and Joe Biden – 20.7%.
Russia’s war in Ukraine
Over 35% of Moldovans justify the Russian army’s invasion of Ukrainian territory. Almost two percentage points fewer respondents consider the invasion unjustified.
The Public Opinion Barometer provides a complex picture of how citizens of the Republic of Moldova perceive the Ukraine conflict, with data showing the evolution of opinions in 2022 and 2023. These figures reflect the degree of polarization and confusion dominating the informational space regarding this issue.
Regarding the description of the conflict, in 2023, 33.4% of respondents believe there is an ‘unjustified invasion in which no one provoked Russia,’ down from 38.3% in 2022. This indicates a slight change in public perception. 18.1% believe ‘Russia is defending the people’s republics of Donbass and Lugansk from Ukraine’s attacks,’ a slight increase from 17.1% in 2022. Additionally, 17% see the conflict as an ‘operation to liberate Ukraine from Nazism,’ up from 15% in 2022. In this context, 28.3% do not have a clear opinion or did not respond to this question in 2023, compared to 26.5% in 2022.
Regarding the perception of who is right in the conflict, in 2023, 33.9% of respondents believe Ukraine is right, down from 36.2% in 2022. At the same time, 25.1% believe Russia is right, a slight increase from 21.9% in 2022. Also, 23.9% believe neither side is right, showing a slight increase from 23.2% in 2022. These data continue to indicate significant polarization in public opinion.
The survey shows that the perception of the Ukraine conflict among citizens of the Republic of Moldova has undergone some minor changes between 2022 and 2023. The analysis of these figures reveals the complexity of the subject and the fact that public opinion is strongly influenced by how information about the Ukraine conflict is presented in the informational space.”