There are surprisingly few polls across former Yugoslavia tracking people’s perception of that disappeared country and its breakup.
2016 Gallup Poll: Many in Balkans Still See More Harm From Yugoslavia Breakup
A 2016 Gallup poll shows that perceptions regarding Yugoslavia’s breakup vary by former republic, by ethnicity, and by age.
Perhaps as could be expected, the citizens of Serbia, politically dominant in the former Yugoslavia, rue Yugoslavia’s demise the most, at 81%, and Croatia’s and Kosovo’s the least, at 23% and 10%, respectively.
Similarly, Serbs, regardless of their current country of residence, feel Yugoslavia’s breakup was harmful to their country.
And finally, also as can be expected, older people, of near-retirement and retirement age, feel the most harmed by the country’s breakup.
In their interpretation of poll results, authors write
“Many residents of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia feel its breakup 25 years ago harmed their country. These residents may be mourning the loss of the benefits that socialism provided or be frustrated with the current high unemployment rate, the loss of income, or the lost illusion of peaceful coexistence among different groups. Given the differences in opinions by age, it seems many residents who can remember Yugoslavia view the past in a more favorable light compared with the present political and economic realities. Yugo-nostalgia may fade, but ethnic minorities may continue to see the past in a positive light as a time of multi-ethnic tolerance.”
2015 Moje Vrijeme Poll: Croatia and BiH agree: Life Was Better in SFRY
A 2015 poll by the Croatian magazine Moje Vrijeme* found that Croatian middle-aged (45+) and older citizens and even more so their peers in Bosnia and Herzegovina “romanticize” Yugoslavia: 86 percent of Croats and 92 percent of Bosnians surveyed think things were better or much better in Yugoslavia. And while the former lament the lost values of the socialist system, the latter highlighted its superior social security.
As many as 74 percent of Croatian and 87 percent of Bosnian respondents over the age of 45 say they could live in a one-party political system. Of the things they value the most about Yugoslavia (or those that were valued more back then than they are now), Croats and Bosnians both most often cited job security (88% and 86% respectively). Croats then cited public health (78%), friendship (72%), economic security (72%) and solidarity (71%), while Bosnians education (85%), public health (83%), friendship and economic security (82% each).
As many as 40 percent of Croatian and 65 percent of Bosnians respondents think Josip Broz Tito was a positive persona, while only 8 percent of Croats and 3 percent of Bosnians say he was a dictator; 51 percent of Croats and 31 percent of Bosnians think both good and bad should be taken into account about him.
14 percent of Croats and 51 percent of Bosnians citizens over the age of 45 openly say that they are Yugonostalgics.
* It is unclear whether the poll was simply an online poll on the website or a representative survey; the former is more likely.
2003 Nacional Poll: Greatest Croats in History
In 2003, a 5-week poll by the Nacional newspaper of 7,779 people (6507 online, 520 by SMS text message, 752 by mail) found 26 percent of readers considered Tito to be the greatest Croat in history, while 21% thought it was Nikola Tesla; the third place personality, the 18th century physicist Ruđer Bošković, received less than half of 2nd place votes.