How Pervasive Has Government Distrust Gotten? [video]_Featured_, Politics Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
(TED Blog) Political theorist Ivan Krastev believes that we are witnessing a “crisis of democracy.”
There appears to be little dissent in Europe or the United States about whether democracy is the best form of government, Krastev says in a foreboding talk given at TEDGlobal 2012. “Democracy is the only game in town,” says Krastev. “The problem is that many people have started to believe that it is not a game worth playing.”
Over the past 30 years, he says, trust in the efficacy of democracy has begun to erode. People feel less and less like their vote matters—that while they may be able to change who is in power, they are not able to affect what actions their government takes. The consequences? A decline in electoral turnout coupled with a growing sense of distrust of those in power.
To hear Krastev’s fascinating and counterintuitive thoughts on how this crisis came to be, listen to his talk. After the jump, an assortment of surveys about government mistrust, so you can judge the situation for yourself.
In his talk, Krastev shares some startling recent findings—that only 18% of Italian and just 15% of Greek citizens believe that their vote matters. Krastev pulled these numbers from the European Commission’s “Future of Europe” public opinion survey, published in April 2012. (Download the full results from the European Commission website.) In Denmark and Sweden, faith in government remains high, with 96% and 89% of survey respondents believing that their vote is meaningful. But by contrast, Romanian and Lithuanian citizens reported feeling largely powerless in their electoral system. Looking at the 27 countries of the European Union as a whole, only 52% of survey respondents said that they believe their vote matters inside their country. And just 33% believe that their vote matters in the context of the European Union at large.