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18 Jan, 2022 10:01

Autocracies more trusted than democracies – study

Public confidence in democratic governments has fallen amid the pandemic
Autocracies more trusted than democracies – study

A global survey has found that autocracies have become increasingly trusted, while confidence in democracies has fallen. One of the reasons given is the alleged poor management of the Covid-19 pandemic in democratic states.

In a study published this week, the Edelman Trust Barometer, a communications group that has polled thousands of people over two decades, said its most recent survey showed a concerning lack of trust in democratically elected governments. 

The group, which interviewed over 36,000 respondents in 28 countries between November 1-24, found German institutions were the biggest losers, as their trust rating was down seven points on the previous year to 46. 

Australia at 53 (-6), the Netherlands at 57 (-6), South Korea at 42 (-5), and the United States at 43 (-5) were also deemed to have lost the most public confidence.

Contrastingly, more autocratic states saw increases in public trust. China achieved a rating of 83, up 11 points, the United Arab Emirates was at 76, up nine points, and Thailand at 66, up five points.  

“We really have a collapse of trust in democracies,” said Richard Edelman, who heads up the group. "It all goes back to: ‘Do you have a sense of economic confidence?’” he added, noting that there are perennially high levels of concern about job losses. 

Edelman contended that higher public trust levels in China were linked to a greater sense of predictability about Chinese policy, with notable reference to the pandemic.

“I think there is a coherence between what is done and what is said... They have had a better Covid than the US for example,” he told Reuters.  

This was also reflected in economic outlooks, with two-thirds of people in China confident their families would be better off in five years, despite a slowing economy and housing crisis. 

By comparison, only 15% of people in Japan were optimistic about their economic fortunes. In most other democracies, around 20-40% answered the same question positively.

The study also highlighted that businesses maintained strong levels of global trust, in part due to their role in developing vaccines and responding to the need for revised working procedures during the pandemic.