The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have substantially increased support among Europeans for radical solutions, according to a ground-breaking survey published today by a team led by leading Oxford academic, Professor Timothy Garton Ash.
The survey’s results show that 71% of all those interviewed support the radical idea of a universal basic income (UBI) – and no fewer than 84% are in favour of a mandatory minimum wage. In the UK, 68% support a universal basic income.
A universal basic income, whereby all citizens would be entitled to a basic income paid by the government irrespective of their employment status, has been suggested by some economists and political thinkers as a way of responding to challenges such as inequality and automation.
However, there remains a large number of people on both the left and right of the political spectrum who fear that UBI may actually worsen poverty and widen existing inequalities, instead of eradicating them.
The main threat to jobs is seen by respondents across the continent as the state of the economy, with the level of fear being especially high in southern Europe.
But among young people, inequality is also seen as a major contributing factor, while older people identify immigration as a particular concern.
Worryingly, the survey also found that 53% of young Europeans think authoritarian states are better equipped than democracies to tackle the climate crisis.
These are among the findings of a survey designed by the Europe’s Stories research team, led by Professor Garton Ash at St Antony’s College, Oxford.
It was conducted in March this year, as the pandemic was leading to lockdowns across Europe, by the highly-respected eupinions survey project of the Bertelsmann Foundation.
Commenting on the survey’s results, Professor Garton Ash said: “These striking results reveal remarkably positive attitudes across Europe to what was previously seen as a radical, if not utopian idea.
“But remarkable as well is the perception among the young that authoritarian governments may be best at handling climate change – combined with a reluctance, which the survey also reveals, to have governments ban anything they enjoy!’
The Professor added: “Since we cannot continue our programme of face-to-face interviewing during the lockdown, we have created an easy-to-use facility where anyone can do a short self-interview, sharing their own formative, best and worst European moments, and hopes for Europe in 2030.”