With the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a substantial increase in support for radical solutions amongst Europeans. Professor Timothy Garton, a renowned Oxford academic, led a team of researchers who published this groundbreaking survey on 7th May 2020.

The survey’s findings indicated that over half (53%) of young Europeans believe that authoritarian states are better equipped to take on issues like climate change when compared with democracies. And most importantly, 71% of people interviewed supported the once-radical idea of a universal basic income. Moreover, 84% were in favour of a mandatory minimum wage. In the UK specifically, 68% of interviewees supported a universal basic income.

A universal basic income is defined by a policy in which all citizens would be entitled to a basic income paid by the government irrespective of their employment status. This has been suggested by some economists and political thinkers as a way of responding to challenges such as inequality and automation and has been gaining increasing traction since the advent of the novel coronavirus.

Professor Garton Ash commented, “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!”

This finding forms part of a survey designed by the Europe’s Stories research team which is headed by Professor Garton Ash at St Anthony’s College, Oxford. It was conducted in March 2020 as the pandemic was beginning to cause lockdowns across Europe. It was administered through the widely-known ‘eupinionssurvey’ project made by the Bertelsmann Foundation. 

Since face-to-face interviewing has been impossible during the pandemic, the team developed a self-interviewing facility and everyone was encouraged to record a 10 minute self-interview, on their own smartphone, tablet or laptop. Over 100 interviews can be seen on europeanmoments.com with Europeans discussing their formative, best and worst European moments, and their hopes for Europe in 2030. 

Professor Garton Ash’s report can be found here.

Anvee Bhutani

Anvee Bhutani is the former Managing Director of The Oxford Blue, having also held a variety of roles on the editorial and business teams. She is a penultimate year student at Magdalen College reading Human Sciences and is originally from San Francisco, California. To reach out to her, please email [email protected]