Irish people more satisfied with their democracy than most EU states, survey finds

Irish public also satisfied with Government’s handling of the pandemic

Irish citizens are much more satisfied with how their democracy is working than citizens in most other EU states, a survey has found.

The latest Irish national Eurobarometer survey found that 83 per cent of Irish people are satisfied with how Irish democracy works, while 81 per cent are satisfied with how EU democracy works.

This compares with the much lower average figures of 56 per cent and 55 per cent respectively for all EU member states.

The survey found that, in general, the level of trust was slightly lower among young Irish citizens.


Almost nine out of every 10 Irish citizens are optimistic about the future of the European Union, the highest national level of optimism recorded in the Union, the survey found.

As well as finding that 88 per cent of Irish citizens were optimistic about its future, the survey also found that 83 per cent trusted that the EU would make the right decisions in the future, up from 79 per cent last year.

This score for Ireland compared to an average of 60 per cent for member states across the EU, where trust in the Union to make the right decisions in the future slipped five percentage points overall in the past year.


Historically, Irish people have been significantly more positive about the EU than citizens of most other countries, though this took a dip during the Troika years.

Fieldwork for the survey was carried out in late January and early February of this year, in the period when Russian forces were building on the border with Ukraine, but before the Russian invasion of February 24th.

In relation to the Government’s handling of the pandemic, the survey found that 78 per cent were satisfied, up from 67 per cent a year earlier.

This was the second highest level of satisfaction recorded across EU member states, behind Portugal, which scored 79 per cent. France recorded the lowest level of satisfaction, at 36 per cent.

Three quarters of Irish citizens were happy with the measures taken by the EU in response to the pandemic, the highest measure of support among EU member states.

While the average across the EU27 for those who had a positive image of the EU was 44 per cent, the figure for Irish citizens was 71 per cent, again the highest in the Union.

The survey found that attitudes towards the EU were generally similar across all age groups.

The percentage of Irish citizens who thought the country was going in the right direction increased to 71 per cent, up from 64 per cent last year, while 64 per cent felt that the EU was going in the right direction.

The survey found that trust in the European Parliament and the European Commission among Irish citizens was at 64 per cent and 63 per cent respectively, while trust in the European Central Bank was slightly lower, at 60 per cent.


The survey also recorded a generally optimistic view in relation to financial matters, with 84 per cent of Irish people believing they were in a rather good or very good financial household position. In relation to the Irish economy, 63 per cent believed it was in a good place.

On the media, the report found that radio (65 per cent) was the most trusted medium, followed by TV (59 per cent), and the written press (53 per cent). Only 26 per cent were found to trust the internet, and 17 per cent to trust online social networks.

Across the EU, other member states tended to record a lower level of trust in the media, and a higher level of trust in social media.

Fieldwork for the Irish survey was undertaken by Behaviour and Attitudes, with the company interviewing 1,006 respondents, all aged more than 15 years.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent