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One in five Estonians think refugees are country’s biggest problem

While not a single migrant has arrived yet under the EU quota system, in a survey taken in Estonia last month 21% of respondents considered migration to be the biggest problem that Estonian society is faced with at the moment. Only responses of Estonian citizens were counted in the survey.

17% of respondents named various problems, and 12% see unemployment as the biggest issue of the country at the moment.

"It's controversial that in a situation where not a single refugee has arrived in Estonia under the quota, the biggest portion of respondents see the topic of refugees as an especially important problem at present. This means that against the backdrop of developments in Europe, the information that reached Estonia has caused a situation where people show significant fear of mass immigration," Karin Reivart of Turu-Uuringute AS said, who conducted the survey.

"It's worth mentioning that this was a survey with open-ended answers, meaning that the respondents were offered no answers to choose from and they had to name the problems themselves,” Reivart pointed out.

The survey also shows that women have become more critical of immigrants than men. 22% of women name the migration crisis when asked about the biggest issue, ahead of 20% of men.

Looking at age groups, the percentage of respondents seeing immigration as the biggest problem was highest among 18 to 24-year-olds at 32%. Regionally, Central Estonia took the lead with 31%.

Along ethnic groups, 22% of Estonian-speaking respondents pointed to immigration as the biggest issue, while only 14% of Russian speakers did the same.

By education, 25% of people without secondary education, 24% of people with secondary education, and 15% of people with higher education stated the same.

By political affiliation, refugees were ranked as the biggest problem by voters of the Reform Party at 31%, by 22% of voters of Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) and of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE), by 21% of voters of the Social Democratic Party and by 19% of people who said they would vote either for the Center or the Free Party.

Low wages, pensions and standard of living followed at 9%, poverty and social problems as well as the government not paying heed to the people at 6% each.

Political and economic corruption, low economic growth, the poor state of the economy, differences in society, and people being mean were named by 3% of the respondents each.

Poor availability of medical care, Estonians' xenophobia and intolerance, the low birth rate, emigration, the emigration of young people, and political bickering each got 2%.

Contrary to claims of EKRE and other opponents of the Registered Partnership Act, only 1% of respondents was particularly worried about homosexual couples being given the possibility to register.

On a more cheerful note, 1% of respondents believed that there wasn’t such an all-important problem Estonia was faced with. 8% of respondents said they couldn’t answer the question.

The survey was conducted by interviewing 795 Estonian citizens aged 18 and above in January 2016.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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