Davos 07: Declining trust in leaders

The World Economic Forum (aka Davos) just released its survey about confidence in world leaders and views of safety and economic prosperity and it’s not a pretty picture. (No link yet.) Some of the details found by the Gallup Voice of the People survey of 55 ,000 people in 60 countries:

Trust in political leadership: Globally, 43% of citizens say that political leaders are dishonest; 37% say they have too much power; 33% say they are unethical; 27% say they are not competent.

52% of U.S. citizens say their politicians are dishonest.

Africans “were the most critical of their politicians” with 81% calling political leaders disonest vs 60% of East Europeans (81% in Serbia).

More than half in the Americas, 56%, call their politicians dishonest: 90% in Bolivia, 89% in Peru and Ecuador, 80% in Venezuela (note that well, Hugo).

In Western Europe, the survey says, citizens are generally more positie about their polticians but not these: 76% of Austrians, 69% of Germans, even 50% of the Swiss say their leaders are dishonest.

Trust in business leadership is, I’d say, marginally better than trust in politicians: 34% believe business leaders are dishonest (vs., again, 43% for politicians); 34% say business leaders have too much power; 30% say they are unethical.

When asked how to restore trust, a plurality of world citizens — 32% — argue for transparency. Note that well in the age of transparency. Add to that 13% pushing dialogue with consumers and 7% reconnecting with stakeholders (30% argue for punishment of fraudulent behavior).

Economic prosperity: Western Europe is looking through dark glasses: 53% think the world will be less prosperous in the next generation, versus 37 percent for the U.S.

The Chinese know that tomorrow belongs to them: 86% think the next generation will be better off (53% for all Asia).

Safety: Western Europe is, again, the most pessimistic: 68% think “the next generation will live in a less-safe world.” That’s 59% in the Americas (64% for the U.S.) and 46% in the Middle East.

In Afghanistan, there is optimism, but it’s declining — from 77% believeing the world will be safer last year to 68% this year; in Iraq, the number plummeted from 61% to 36%.

In the Middle East, almost half the people (46%) think the world will be less safe.

Priorities: Finally, asked about their priorities for leaders, a plurality, 15%, say reducing wars. 12% say the war on terror (that’s 25% in the Middle East, 52% in Iraq, and 23% in the U.S.).

Other priorities: eliminating poverty, 13%; economic growth, 12%, closing the gap between rich and poor, 11%; protecting the environment, 10%, restoring trust 9%; human rights 4%; overcoming drugs, 4%; integrating social issues, 4%; overcoming AIDS, 3%; reducing organized crime, 2%; equality for women, 1%.

They’re going to have the 2,000 leaders attending Davos answer the same questions.

  • The reason there is such little trust in leaders is because of the influence of big money interests and greed worldwide. We solve that problem, then we will be half way there.

    Thanks for the statistics. I love data.

  • Cooler Heads

    So all the “leaders” that people distrust are going to get together and find ways to people to trust them more. Terrific.

    If these leaders had used previous meetings to actually “do something” then maybe people would be more trusting.

    Jeff, if you are going to go there and tell them the truth about their acts of self-interest, their personal hoarding of wealth, and their lack of action, then great. Otherwise, why go? To say you met powerful people? To get business cards as trophies? This has been going on for years, the strutting and preening of world leaders. Why is now so special, different, or important?

  • It seems odd that in a period where more and more countries are adopting a (nominal) democratic political structure the citizens are losing confidence in their leaders.

    Is this a sign that the democracies are not really functioning properly? Notice that most institutions which people interact with are still not democratic, this includes the military, capitalist corporations and most religious bodies.

    Have people’s expectations been raised by the promises of democracy only to make them more cynical when they aren’t met? I’ve been watching the PBS series on China and almost everyone interviewed (except party members) sees a large discrepancy between how the society is managed and how the propaganda claims it is.

    This is why there were over 80,000 public demonstrations against the misuse of power last year.

  • BW

    Aha! This is obviously fake. In the priorities section, it says nothing about “keeping bad words off television.” We all know that is top priority for most Americans.

  • BW, great observation. Of course, with the world’s leaders having to deal with the nut in the white house, there is an increasing tendency to behave like banana republic dictators, as there are no restraints. Having a functioning president of the U.S., or a nonencumbered U.N. would be a really great deterrent to capricious behavior at the helm of countries such as Pakistan, where we are taking Musharaf’s word that this time, unlike last time, he will keep a curb on the Taliban. (see cabdrollery)

  • Thanks for highlighting this survey. I finally found a copy of the press release hidden away in the depths of the Gallup site. I’ve hosted it here if anyone wants to see refer to it:

  • penny

    Some of the details found by the Gallup Voice of the People survey of 55 ,000 people in 60 countries

    Give me a break, that’s about 900 people surveyed per country, a number that is totally underwhelming.

    Here’s a better poll. How many trust survey polls?

  • penny

    a nonencumbered U.N.

    Hey, Ruth, unencumbered by which: their lackluster history(Ruwanda, Bosnia, Darfur or failure to bring to justice anyone of the world’s murderous thugs) – or – their corruption(Oil for Food scandals, sex scandals)?

    Notice that most institutions which people interact with are still not democratic, this includes the military, capitalist corporations and most religious bodies.

    Howard no is forced to go to church, be in the military, or work for a corporation. No gun at the back of the head, my friend. That’s democratic enough for me. But, then, I also came from a household where my vote wasn’t equally weighed to my parents when I was a kid. I’m not scarred.

  • penny

    Oops. Meant: Howard, no one is forced…..

  • Query: Is it better to be “nonencumbered” or “unencumbered”?

    I think Ruth’s brain actually may be “cucumbered” but I could be noninformed.

    Anway, I don’t know about you morons, but I trust politicians and experts.

  • Equal justice means that I have exactly the same rights as my neighbor, but he has a little bit less rights than me.
    Everybody agrees on the top priorities (how couldn’t he?).
    In what we disagree is who has to loose in order to fulfill the needs of our changing society.

    eliminating poverty, 13% That should be a little less rich and a little less poor.
    But who is going to be less rich? “the others”

    economic growth, 12%, How and when? Of course we have to produce more at a more competitive price. But who is going to produce and sell, who is going to buy?
    Answer number first: WE, answer number second: the Others.

    closing the gap between rich and poor, 11% The same as number first. The Others are going to be less rich in order that the poor get less poor.

    protecting the environment, 10%Who is going to save on energy, cars, electricity, mobile phones…

    restoring trust 9%Who has to get more honest? The OTHERS

    human rights 4% Don’t forget the meaning of equal justice…

    overcoming drugs, 4% Easy to say, impossible (almost) to do…

    integrating social issues, 4% Remember Equal Justice…

    overcoming AIDS, 3% In principle, it is somebody else’s problem…(as long as it doesn’t touch us…

    reducing organized crime, 2% With equal justice, we would have just a few lunatics as criminals, wouldn’t we?

    equality for women, 1%. I am a woman, no comment on this point…

    All this for explaining that it is ALWAYS somebody else’s fault and duty and matter.
    But if anyone of us would once ask himself: what am I doing to make a slightly better world? and WOULD just try to do something, may be we WOULD see better results than just complaining and blaming the same…
    We say “Piove, governo ladro…”

  • penny

    Patrizia, why is equal justice or economic advancement a zero sum game? You aren’t making sense. My receiving a fair trial doesn’t cancel a fair trial for the next guy. An increase in my income doesn’t mean my neighbor has to take a pay cut.

    The survey results look like what a vapid 7th grader would put spout without analysis. It’s as much the reflection of how years of ingesting the vapid MSM’s headlines and their simplistic drivel rots the brain.

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  • Of course I was joking.
    What I wanted to say is that we usually have a different point of view, if something concerns us or somebody else.
    And we are ready to admit we need to sacrifice our lifestyle for example for saving energy, but when it comes to us, we find it hard to live a less comfortable life.
    And in the same way it is easy to find the faults in somebody else, but WE ALL should do something if we want this world to change.
    Sorry, I am Italian and sometimes I find it hard to express all what I think.

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