FILE – A driver looks at the petrol pump at a petrol station in London, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Many Europeans worry that high inflation due to the current energy crisis could fuel social unrest, protests, and strikes, according to a new survey in France, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom.
Conducted by pollster YouGov for the non-profit organisation More in Common, the survey showed that cost of living has become the most important issue for Europeans in the four countries polled.
A majority of people surveyed in all four countries said they were worried about social unrest in the coming months. In France, four in ten people said they wanted to see a return of the Yellow Vests protest movement.
Europeans are also feeling the impact of the energy crisis. One in five people surveyed said they were drawing down from their savings while one in ten said they were skipping meals, the survey showed.
“Many are already struggling to cope; having to draw from savings or skip meals, particularly among disengaged and low-trust segments of the population,” according to the report from More in Common entitled Navigating the Cost of Living Crisis.
“The vast majority believe this won’t be a short crisis, with many seeing no end in sight.”
A majority of those surveyed in Poland and Germany said they were shopping around for better deals on groceries. A majority of those surveyed said they expected to cut down on heating this winter due to high energy prices.
The survey also showed that Europeans in the four countries had low trust in their governments’ ability to handle the crisis.
It found that while overall people don’t trust any political party to handle the crisis, opposition parties including populists are making gains.
In the UK, trust in the Labour Party was 20 points higher than in the Conservatives. In France, the party most trusted to deal with the crisis was the far-right National Rally.
While Russia was viewed by those surveyed as most to blame for the crisis, energy companies and national governments were also seen as responsible, the poll showed.
Pessimism seems to be widespread: few Europeans expect that the cost of living crisis will end any time soon, with over one in three people surveyed uncertain that it will ever end.
Majorities in the countries polled would like to see an accelerated transition to renewable energies and believe renewables are a way to achieve energy independence faster.
The polling was conducted online in late July with a sample of 7,000 adults from the UK, France, Germany and Poland.