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democracy sign

Occupy London demonstrators erected tents in front of St Paul's Cathedral on Oct. 16, 2011. (Photo: Neil Cummings/Flickr/cc)

'Crisis of Trust': Poll Finds People Living in Democracies Think Governments Aren't Acting in Public Interest

"Democracies cannot afford to be complacent if they are to survive and prosper."

Jessica Corbett

Democracies worldwide are experiencing a "crisis of trust," according to the Democracy Perception Index (pdf) released Thursday, which found that among citizens of democratic nations, the majority does not believe that their voices matter in politics or that governments are acting in the public interest.

Earlier this month, Dalia Research, Alliance of Democracies, and Rasmussen Global polled some 125,000 people across 50 countries, and found that those living in nations deemed "democractic"—based on Freedom House's latest index—have even less faith in government than those living in "non-democratic" states.

More than half of respondents in democratic countries said their voices "rarely" or "never" matter in politics, and 64 percent said they believe their government "rarely" or "never" acts in the interest of the public. In terms of citizens not believing their voices have an impact, Japan fared the worst, with a full 74 percent of people who said they felt their voice doesn't matter.

Austria, which has recently garnered international attention for the surging popularity of its far-right politicians, is the worst-ranked democracy in terms of acting in the public interest, and overall falls second to only the "partly free" Kenya. In the United States, 49 percent said their voice doesn't matter and 66 percent believe the government fails to serve the public.

Other key findings from all 50 surveyed countries include: more than half of citizens "don't trust the news they read," and nearly half "don't feel free to share political opinions in public." While citizens of democracies feel the most free to publicly discuss politics, a full 57 percent said they don't believe the news media gives them "balanced and neutral information."

"Democratic systems of governance are under severe threat, not only from foreign interference and the rise of autocratic regimes, but also from the huge crisis of confidence amongst the electorate," concluded Nina Schick, director of data and polling at Rasmussen Global. "Democracies cannot afford to be complacent if they are to survive and prosper."

As Dalia Research CEO and cofounder Nico Jaspers put it, "Right now the biggest risk for democracies is that the public no longer sees them as democratic."

The index was released to mark the inaugural Copenhagen Democracy Summit, which was organized by the three surveryers.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

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Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

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'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

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'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

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80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

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