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.