1.

A global survey on the state of democracy by fondation pour l’innovation politique and the international republican institute

2.

42 countries, 33 languages, 66,395 interviewees

3.

A 35-question survey

I.

Fragile democracies

1.

The ambiguity of commitment to democracy

2.

The transparency of the electoral process called into question

3.

Desinterest in politics erodes democratic ideals

4.

Is the legitimacy of universal suffrage uncontested?

5.

The ghosts of authoritarianism

6.

Men and women hold different perspectives on democracy

7.

Generational renewal: democratic deconsolidation or restructuring

II.

Globalized democracies

1.

In the democratic world, globalization is an opportunity

2.

The challenge of migration in the light of refugee issue

3.

Territories in globalization: the metropolis and its surroundings

4.

Islam causes concerns

5.

Religion: tolerance and tensions

6.

Tolerance, condition of a free society of free society: religious opinions, sexual orientations, political opinions, ethnicity

7.

From social inequalities to social polarization : what globalization does to democracies

8.

Who holds the power ?

9.

Trust in digital giants… with the exception of Facebook

10.

Scientific and technological innovations are seen as sources of progress

11.

A fundamental part of the national economy or symbol of globalized capitalism: the size of companies shapes collective perceptions

12.

Standard of living and lifestyle : the twofold heritage crisis

III.

Order and freedoms

1.

Not everyone takes freedom of expression for granted

2.

Unanimous support for the broad principles of democratic expression

3.

A majority of the democratic world is in favor of the death penalty

4.

Abortion – between liberalization and moral resistance

5.

According to public opinion, the role of the state in the economy should be limited and the freedom of business increased

6.

Schools and health services : particularly popular institutions

7.

The army, police, and justice : strong support for institutions of law and order

8.

Democracies under pressure and the European values studies : convergent data

IV.

Europe and democracy : linked destinies

1.

The western balkans* on the road to democracy

2.

Hungarians, poles, Slovaks and Czechs feel that democracy is the best system

3.

Support for the euro protects Europe

4.

Brexit in the UK : a divided nation*

5.

Brexit – a litmus test for generational divisions ?

6.

The baltic states, between democratic ideals and authoritarian temptations

7.

In the face of new threats, the revival of the idea of a European army

8.

Europeans and the new public space : the media, social media & the internet

V.

The democratic world on the defensive

1.

The United States, China, Russia and the European Union : friends or foes ?

2.

Brazil : a tolerant society faced with democratic disillusionment

3.

The anglosphere : economic and political liberalism

4.

Trust ans mistrust in democratic societies

5.

Military intervention in defense of democratic values is unpopular

See full table of contents  See less of the table of contents 
EDITOR

Dominique REYNIÉ (Fondation pour l’innovation politique)
With the participation of:
Daniel TWINING (International Republican InstituteI)
With the cooperation of:
Octavio de BARROS (República do Amanhã)

PRODUCTION

Fondation pour l’innovation politique:
Loraine AMIC, Virginie DENISE, Anne FLAMBERT, Raphaël GRELON, Guillemette LANO, Julia LAUREAU, Julie NOYER, Maude PAILLARD-COYETTE, Nicolas RIGAUDIÈRE
International Republican Institute:
Sonja GLOECKLE, Emina IBRAHIMOVIC, Tucker JONES, Katie LAROQUE, Morgan MARTINEZ, Paul McCARTHY, Oleksandr MOSTBAUER, Carisa NEITSCHE, Stephen NIX, Julia SIBLEY, Borislav SPASOJEVIC, Jan SUROTCHAK, Alex TARASCIO, Benjamin THOMPSON, Diane ZELENY
República do Amanhã:
Thomás de BARROS, Vasco CALDEIRA, Anthony TAIEB, Renée ZICMAN

TRANSLATION

Madeleine HAMEL, Katherine HAMILTON, Caroline LORRIAUX, UBIQUS, WESTMILL International

GRAPHIC DESIGN

Julien RÉMY

EDITORIAL COORDINATION

Victor DELAGE, Madeleine HAMEL, Katherine HAMILTON, Thibault MUZERGUES

International survey designed by the FONDATION POUR L'INNOVATION POLITIQUE and the INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE

This survey was conducted by IPSOS
Brice TEINTURIER (Deputy Managing Director France)
Within the Politics and Opinion Department:
Federico VACAS (Deputy Manager),
Alice TÉTAZ (Research Manager),
Amandine LAMA (Account Manager)

PROOFREADING

Michael SCOTT

PRINTER

GALAXY Imprimeurs

PUBLISHED

2019

Credits

Governing bodies of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique

SUPERVISORY BOARD

Nicolas BAZIRE, Chairman
Grégoire CHERTOK, Vice-Chairman
Cyrille BARDON,
Valérie BERNIS,
Aldo CARDOSO,
Geneviève FERONE CREUZET,
Pierre GIACOMETTI,
Changjian JIANG,
Olivier LABESSE,
Anne LEVADE,
Francis MER,
Tobie NATHAN,
Jean-Claude PAYE,
Sébastien PROTO,
Salima SAA

EXECUTIVE BOARD

Dominique REYNIÉ, Executive Director, University Professor at Sciences Po, Paris
Anne FLAMBERT, Administrative and Financial Director

AUDITING COMMITTEE

Jean RAYNAUD, Chairman, Honorary General Prosecutor at the Cour des Comptes
Jean-Daniel LÉVY, Chartered accountant and graduate of Sciences Po, Paris
Jacques PRADON, Doctor of law and Honorary Lawyer to the Conseil d’État and the Cour de Cassation

ETHICS COMMITTEE

Hélene GISSEROT, Chairwoman, Honorary General Prosecutor at the Cour des Comptes
Yves CANNAC, Honorary member of the Conseil d’État
Dominique LATOURNERIE, Member of the Conseil d’État

SCIENTIFIC AND EVALUATION COUNCIL

Christophe de VOOGD, Chairman
Bernard BACHELIER,
Bruno BENSASSON,
Élisabeth de CASTEX,
Stéphane COURTOIS,
Julien DAMON,
Laurence DAZIANO,
Marc FORNACCIARI,
Emmanuel GOLDSTEIN,
Erwan LE NOAN,
Luuk van MIDDELAAR,
Pascal PERRINEAU,
Xavier QUÉRAT-HÉMENT,
Robin RIVATON,
Alain-Gérard SLAMA

Credits

FONDATION POUR L’INNOVATION POLITIQUE

A FRENCH THINK TANK SUPPORTING EUROPEAN INTEGRATION AND THE FREE MARKET

The Fondation pour l’innovation politique provides an independent forum for expertise, reflection and exchange aimed at producing and disseminating ideas and proposals. It contributes to pluralism of thought and the renewal of public discussion from a free-market, forward-thinking and European perspective. Four main priorities guide the Foundation’s work: economic growth, the environment, values and digital technology. The website fondapol.org provides public access to all the Foundation’s work. Anyone can access and use all the data gathered for the various surveys via the ‘data fondapol’ platform and data relating to international surveys are available in several languages.

Furthermore, reflecting the Foundation’s editorial policy, our blog Anthropotechnie’ aims to explore new avenues prompted by human enhancement, reproductive cloning, human/machine hybridization, genetic engineering and germline manipulation. It contributes to thinking and debate on transhumanism. ‘Anthropotechnie’ offers articles tackling ethical, hilosophical and political issues associated with the expansion of technological innovations relating to the enhancement of human bodies and abilities.

In addition, our blog ‘Trop Libre’ casts a critical eye over the news and the world of ideas. ‘Trop Libre’ also extensively monitors the effects of the digital revolution on political, economic and social practices in its ‘Renaissance numérique’ section. The Fondation pour l’innovation politique is a state-cognized organization. It is independent and receives no financial support from any political party. Its funding comes from both public and private sources. Support both from companies and individuals contributes to the expansion of its activities.

Governing bodies of the International Republican Institute

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sen. Dan SULLIVAN - Chairman, US Senator (Alaska)
Randy SCHEUNEMANN - Vice Chairman, Kelly AYOTTE, Judy A. BLACK, Gahl Hodges BURT, J. Scott CARPENTER, Sen. Tom COTTON, Sen. Joni ERNST, Frank J. FAHRENKOPF, Alison B. FORTIER, Christopher J. FUSSNER, Sen. Lindsey GRAHAM, Rep. Kay GRANGER, Janet Mullins GRISSOM,
Cheryl F. HALPERN, William J. HYBL, Mark KIRK, James T. KOLBE, David KRAMER, Tami LONGABERGER, Peter T. MADIGAN, Général H.R. MCMASTER, Constance Berry NEWMAN, Sen. Mitt ROMNEY, Sen. Marco RUBIO, Joseph R. SCHMUCKLER, Amb. Kristen SILVERBERG, Frances TOWNSEND, Amb. Gaddi VASQUEZ, Olin L. WETHINGTON

EXECUTIVE BOARD

Dr. Daniel TWINING - President
Judy Van REST - Executive Vice President
Kimber SHEARER - Counsel - Vice President for Strategy and Development
Daniel W. FISK - Chief Operations Officer
Scott MASTIC - Vice President for Programs
Diane ZELENY - Vice President for External Affairs & Global Engagement

Credits

INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE
ADVANCING DEMOCRACY WORLDWIDE

The International Republican Institute advances democracy and freedom. We link people with their governments, guide politicians to be responsive to citizens, and motivate people to engage in the political process.
IRI works with organizations and individuals across the globe to help citizens build democratic societies that are open and responsible, accountable and resilient. Collaboration is essential to fulfilling our mission in rapidly changing international landscapes. As an organization, we are agile. That allows us to quickly respond to critical, frequently dangerous situations.
For more than 30 years, we have been helping to strengthen democracy through workshops by volunteer experts from all over the world on multi-party political systems, democratic governance practices, women’s empowerment, civil society development, youth leadership, strengthening electoral processes and public opinion research. Research and qualitative and quantitative public opinion data is a cornerstone of IRI’s approach to programming. Our data ensures citizens’ needs are at the center of the political debate and guide our projects’ goals. To date, IRI has polled more than 1.3 million citizens in 70 countries. To learn more about IRI’s work around the world, get involved, or contact us, visit our website www.iri.org, listen to our podcast Global, or join the conversation on IRI’s blog Democracy Speaks about advancingdemocracy worldwide. IRI is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental Institute and receives funding through grants from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Department, the National Endowment for Democracy, a number of European foundations and aid agencies and other Western countries. Less than one percent of IRI’s funding comes from private donations. We do not receive any money from the Republican Party or any other U.S. partisan entity.

The authors

Mantas Adomėnas
Cambridge educated Ph.D. researcher and former President of the Lithuanian Conservative think tank (Institute of Democratic Politics). He was in charge of the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats’ electoral strategy in the successful 2008 parliamentary election and of the Lithuanian higher education reform (2009).

Yoko Alender
Architect, city planner and politician. Member of the Estonian Parliament (the Riigikogu) since 2015 and reelected in 2019, member of the city council of Tallinn from 2013 to 2017.

Violeta Alexandru
Adviser on good governance to the Romanian president’s party (National Liberal Party – PNL) and Founding Member of the think tank Institute for Public Policy (IPP). She has contributed to, among others, several studies conducted at the Institute for Public Policy, the most recent of which are: Cost – efficiency report in public procurement (2015), Sustainable Public Procurement to make efficient investments in Romania (2013) and Transparency and Competitiveness in the Romanian Public Procurement System (2012).

Loraine Amic
Intern at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Master’s student in public administration at Science Po, Paris.

Octavio de Barros
Economist, President of República do Amanhã (“Republic of tomorrow”), a Brazilian think tank in partnership with the Fondation pour l’innovation politique and the International Republican Institute in the conception of the survey Democracies under pressure. He is also the Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce France-Brazil in São Paulo.

Oriol Bartomeus
Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Law at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Doctor in Political Science at UAB, author of a thesis studying the effects of generational replacement on electoral behavior in Catalonia. He contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Pierre Bréchon
Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Science Po Grenoble (PACTE research unit), and president of ARVAL, a research association focusing on value systems which administrates the survey on the European values in France. He edited, with Frédéric Gonthier and Sandrine Asror, the book La France des valeurs. Quarante ans d’évolution (Presses universitaires de Grenoble, 2019). Also author of a recent article entitled “Le mouvement des “gilets jaunes” ou le retour des valeurs matérialistes ?” (Revue politique et parlementaire, No. 1090, January-March 2019, p. 113-120).

Lolita Cigane
International consultant in good governance, campaign finance, elections and EU politics and policies. Former director of the Latvia branch of Transparency International from 2008-2010, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Finance (2013-2014) and Chair of the European Affairs Committee (2014 -2018) in Latvia.

Julie Decroix
Assistant Director of the American Jewish Committee Europe since 2015 and Ph.D. researcher in Social Science, after working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Quai d’Orsay) as Chief of Staff for France’s special representation for Middle East peace processes.

Victor Delage
Senior Research Fellow and Communications Officer at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique. He worked at the General Directorate of the Treasury at the French Ministry of Economy and Finance. Graduate of the Collège d’Europe and Science Po Grenoble. He also contributed to the book L’opinion européenne 2018 (Fondation pour l’innovation politique / Éditions Marie B, Lignes de Repères Collection, 2019).

Sophia Gaston
Researcher in Political and Social Sciences, visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has authored numerous publications, including Behind Global Britain (British Foreign Policy Group, 2019), Out of the Shadows: Thinking the Immigration Plot (HJS, 2018), At Home in One’s Past (Demos, 2018), Mediating Populism (Demos 2018) and Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself? (Demos, 2017).

Yasen Georgiev
Executive Director of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank based in Sofia (Bulgaria) dedicated in interdisciplinary socioeconomic trends in Bulgaria and in the countries of South-East Europe.

Raphaël Grelon
Intern at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique and Master’s student in geopolitics and prospective analysis at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris).

Madeleine Hamel
Project Manager at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique. Graduated with a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Geneva (Switzerland), specializing in international relations. She contributed to the book L’Opinion européenne 2018 (Fondation pour l’Innovation Politique / Éditions Marie B, Lignes de Repères Collection, 2019).

Katherine Hamilton
Project Manager at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique in charge of the survey Democracies under pressure. Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and international affairs from Skidmore College, New York (U.S.).

Paul-Adrien Hyppolite
Corps des Mines engineer, graduate from the École Normale Supérieure and the École Polytechnique, and visiting scholar at Harvard University. He previously worked for a merchant bank advising governments, for an investment fund, and for a space sector company. Coauthor, with Antoine Michon, of the two-part study entitled Big Tech Dominance (1. The new financial tycoons 2. A barrier to technological innovation?), Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2018, available at fondapol.org).

Samuel Johannes
Transatlantic Strategy Officer at the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Washington, DC, his work focuses on political parties and the media in the era of misinformation.

Aminata Kone
Master’s student in international security at Sciences Po Paris. Has completed her double Bachelor’s degree in international relations and French at the University of Sussex (United Kingdom). She contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Guillemette Lano
Intern at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Master’s Student in geopolitics and international studies at the Catholic Institute of Paris, training course for a humanities’ preparatory class.

Julia Laureau
Intern at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Master’s student in political theory at the Doctoral School of Sciences Po, Member of the Young European association.

Marc Lazar
University Professor of History and Political Sociology, Director of the Sciences Po History Center and President of the Luiss School of Government (Rome). Alongside other activities, he is coauthor with Ilvo Diamanti, of Peuplecratie. La métamorphose de nos démocraties (Gallimard, 2019) and contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Erwan Le Noan
Partner at Altermind, commentator for the newspapers L’Opinion and Les Échos, author of La France des opportunités (Les Belles Lettres, 2017). Member of the Scientific Council of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique. Coauthor of Gouverner pour reformer : éléments de méthode (Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2016, available at fondapol.org) and, with Dominique Reynié, of Pour une complémentaire éducation : l’école des classes moyennes (Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2014, available at fondapol.org).

Johan Martinsson
Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Research Director of Opinion Media Institute at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Author of the study “Sweden Democrats”: an antiimmigration vote (Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2018 available at fondapol.org).

Antoine Michon
Corps des Mines engineer, graduated from the École Polytechnique, of which he was major of promotion. Worked for a financial data platform, for a company specialized in urban mobility solutions, as well as for a provider of data management and analysis software. Coauthor, with Paul-Adrien Hyppolite, of the two-part study entitled Big Tech Dominance (1. The new financial tycoons 2. A barrier to technological innovation?, Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2018, available at fondapol.org).

Patrick Moreau
Ph.D. researcher in history and Doctor of State in political science (FNSP), and CNRS researcher in the European Dynamics laboratory at the University of Strasbourg. Author of the study Alternative für Deutschland: Établissement électoral (Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2018, available on fondapol.org) and L’Autre Allemagne. Le réveil de l’extrême droite (Vendémiaire, 2017).

Anne Muxel
Research Director at Cevipof (CNRS-Sciences Po), specialist in the phenomena of political and democratic reconfiguration, electoral participation and the relationship of youth to politics. She is the author, among others, of Politiquement jeune (Editions de l’Aube, 2018) and contributed to the book What next democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017). Alongside Olivier Galland, she also edited the survey La Tentation radicale. Enquête auprès des lycéens (PUF, 2018).

Thibault Muzergues
Director of the Europe Program at the International Republican Institute (IRI) and author of La Quadrature des classes. Comment de nouvelles classes sociales boulversent les systèmes de partis en Occident (Le Bord de l’Eau, 2018), with an updated English version in progress. His work focuses on public opinion and European political parties.

Julie Noyer
Project Manager at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Master’s student in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal (Canada).

Eriko Oshima
Ph.D. researcher in political science, Associate Professor (Assistant Professor) at Kinjo Gakuin University (Nagoya, Japan). Her work has focused in particular on immigrant integration policy and the French colonial past. She also participated in the research group led by Yuji Nakano which was aimed at analyzing the reports of the High Council on Integration. From 2015 to 2016, she wrote a monthly column on European policies for the website of the European Union Institute in Japan at Waseda University (EUIJ Waseda). She published a book in Japan in 2018 on the Pieds Noirs and, more recently, an article on May 1968 and Maghreb immigrants.

Maude Paillard-Coyette
Intern at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, degree in political science from London Metropolitan University (United Kingdom).

Pascal Perrineau
University Professor at Sciences Po. Coordinator of the books Le Désenchantement démocratique (Éditions de l’Aube, 2003), Le Vote disruptif, Les élections présidentielle et législatives de 2017 (Presses de Sciences Po, 2017) and, with Luc Rouban, of La Démocratie de l’entre-soi (Presses de Sciences Po, 2017) and author of Cette France de gauche qui vote FN (Seuil, 2017). He contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Ožbej Peterle
Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) and a master’s degree in politics, security and integration at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (University College London). Assistant Professor at the School of Advanced Social Studies, Nova Gorica (Slovenia).

Paul Prososki
Program Director of the International Republican Institute in Belgrade (Serbia). Board member of the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (Washington), a center-right think tank.

Bettina Rausch

President of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Academy since March 2018. Former member of the Federal Council (2008-2013) and the National Parliament of Lower Austria (2013-2018). Coeditor and coauthor of Offen für Neues (Édition noir, 2018) and of Österreichisches Jahrbuch für Politik 2018 (Böhlau Verlag, 2019).

Dominique Reynié
University Professor at Sciences Po and Executive Director of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique. He has authored numerous publications, including: the Triomphe de l’opinion publique. L’espace public français du xvie au xxe siècle (Odile Jacob, 1998), Vertige social nationaliste. La gauche du Non (La Table ronde, 2005) and Nouveaux Populismes (Pluriel, 2013). He also edited the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Nicolas Rigaudière
Intern at the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2nd year bachelor’s degree student majoring in politics and government at Sciences Po, Paris.

Jacques Rupnik
Research Director at Sciences Po (Ceri), Professor at the Collège d’Europe in Bruges and former Advisor to President Václav Havel. He edited the books 1989 as a Political World Event. Democracy, Europe and the New International System in the Age of Globalization (Routledge, 2014), Géopolitique de la démocratisation. L’Europe et ses voisinages (Presses de Sciences Po, 2014) and Europe at the Crossroads. Democracy, Neighborhoods, Migrations (Vaclav Havel Library, 2018). He also contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Graham Scott
Europe Program Associate at the International Republican Institute (IRI), focused on North Macedonia. Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science from Shepherd University and a master’s degree in political science from George Mason University.

Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache
Director of the American Jewish Committee in Paris since December 2018, Doctor in geopolitics at the Institut français de géopolitique (Paris VIII University), specialist on Israel and the Horn of Africa. She contributed to the book Gaz naturel, la nouvelle donne ? (Presses Universitaires de France, 2016).

Neritan Sejamini
Strategy Consultant, Policy Analyst and Publisher based in Tirana (Albania), Policy Specialist on the United States and the Western Balkans region.

Corentin Sellin
Associate Professor in CPGE Lycée Carnot (Dijon), specialist on the United States. He coauthored, with Annick Foucrier and Nicolas Vaicbourdt, the book The United States and the world, from the Monroe doctrine to the creation of the UN (1823-1945) (Atlantic, 2018) and contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Joshua Solomon

Program Officer at the International Republican Institute (IRI) for the Eurasia Program on the former Soviet countries. Worked at the National Endowment for Democracy on Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. Master’s student in international affairs at George Washington University (U.S.).

Alex Tarascio
Program Manager at the International Republican Institute (IRI) and Bachelor of Political Science from the University of Oregon. His work focuses on regional support for political parties and measures against misinformation in Europe and Eurasia.

Christophe de Voogd
Ph.D. researcher in history, specialist on the Netherlands, Associate Professor at Sciences Po, President of the Scientific and Evaluation Council of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique. He is the author of the study Réformer : quel discours pour convaincre ? (Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2017, available at fondapol. org) and contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Mathieu Zagrodzki
Ph.D. researcher in Political Science at Sciences Po and Associate Researcher at the Center for Sociological Research on Criminal Law and Institutions (Cesdip), specializing in police and public security issues. He teaches at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. He is the coauthor, with Romain Maneveau and Arthur Persais, of the study Commerce illicite de cigarettes : les cas de Barbès-La Chapelle, Saint-Denis and Aubervilliers-Quatre-Chemins (Fondation pour l’innovation politique, 2018, available at fondapol.org) and he contributed to the book What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (2017).

Foreword: democracies under pressure

Notes

The idea of democracy has revolutionized the world. It is based on a political order whose main feature is making the exercise of power subject to the consent of the governed. Since its ancient and glorious Athenian roots, the idea has spread across land and sea. The English Bill of Rights in 1689, the United States Constitution in 1787, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789 marked the arrival of political freedom in the world with distinction. It spread across Europe in the 19th century, powering nations with the emancipating force of the peoples’ right to self-determination. During the 20th century it triumphed over modern tyrannies, repelling fascist regimes, the Nazis and their allies, then defeating communism after a Cold War that ended with the collapse of the USSR, defeated economically, technologically, politically and morally.

During this same period, the world also embarked on a new phase of democratization. In 1970s Europe, the Greeks, Portuguese and Spaniards overthrew their military dictatorships. In Latin America in the 1980s, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil went through the same experience. Then, on the Old Continent during the 1990s, it was Central and Eastern Europe’s turn. In 1992, a symbolic milestone was reached: more than half of the world’s States were democracies. The world was becoming democratic. The wave lasted until the beginning of the 21st century, with the number of democratic states doubling between the late 1970s and the early 2000s.

However, as we enter the 21st century, the horizon looks darker. In the 2019 edition of its annual report Freedom in the World, the NGO Freedom House expressed concern over “global declines in political rights and civil liberties for an alarming 13 consecutive years, from 2005 to 2018. The global average score has declined each year, and countries with net score declines have consistently outnumbered those with net improvements1”. Today it is no longer simply a question of strengthening the democratic process where it is still fragile, in Liberia, Uganda or Tunisia, but also of helping regain democratic momentum where countries have slid back, in South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia and encouraging progress where it can be seen, in Ethiopia, Angola, Armenia, Malaysia or Ecuador. It is now a question of protecting, or even defending, established democracies. This is the case for the countries that emerged from the post-Soviet democratic transition that seem to be tempted down a backwards path, an authoritarian transition feared throughout Europe, advocating for a paradoxical model at once democratic and “illiberal”. The wave of populist elections is weakening the European Union. Here we do not see the traditional political, economic and social factors that have always threatened the solidity of the democratic world, such as growth, employment and the educational system. These are challenges that must be faced time and time again. Rather, under the emerging concerns, the media has been disrupted by social media, where the best and the worst of humanity exist side by side. How can we keep the democratic discussion alive if the truth is to lose its mediating power, if opinions and debates are constantly oversimplified and radicalized, if the legitimacy of journalism is no longer recognized? From now on, not just election campaigns but also electoral processes themselves are likely to be seriously disrupted by new forms of public debate. The heart of democracy is under threat.

This moment of doubt is also the product of the forces unleashed by globalization. A paradoxical triumph of the West, globalization destabilizes democracies while offering unprecedented opportunities for development and expansion to new powers. Among these is China, which is no longer hiding its ambition to dominate the 21st century. It is increasingly powerful both economically and technologically. In the strategic field of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, it is fighting for the leading position. But China achieves these stunning successes without renouncing its authoritarian system, or even the hegemony of the Chinese Communist Party, by building a state model that could be described as “high-tech totalitarianism,” ready to export its concepts, methods, and tools.

For the first time since its creation, democracy is no longer certain of inspiring the world. It is in this new and troubled context that we wanted to bring together our two institutions: on the one hand, the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, a French think tank committed to defending the values of freedom and progress and the ideals of the European Union; on the other, the International Republican Institute, an American organization that promotes democracy worldwide. Our two organizations were pleased to welcome the Brazilian think tank República do Amanhã into this partnership in order to carry out this international study, conducted in forty-two democracies, presented here under the title Democracies Under Pressure.

The document is comprised of two volumes: the first is devoted to themes and issues, such as trust in institutions, support for the model of representative democracy, support for abortion or the death penalty, the decline of democratic values among younger generations, etc.; the second volume is dedicated to the forty-two countries of the survey, offering a fact sheet for each that summarizes the state of national public opinion. We also present the reader with an “Index of Democratic Culture”.

It is important to specify that all survey data are made available to the public in the thirty-three languages the survey was administered in as open data on the respective websites of the three institutions. Lastly, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the organizations’ teams, the authors and all those who enabled this project to be carried out through their competence and their dedication.

Through this project we hope to contribute to a better understanding of public opinion in different countries, particularly regarding their respective democratic systems but also in terms of democracy in general. We also hope to encourage discussions and joint projects between civil societies in the democratic  world, especially on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

 

Dominique REYNIÉ,

Executive Director of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique,

University Professor at Sciences Po, Paris

Daniel TWINING,

President of the International Republican  Institute

Survey methodology

1

A global survey on the state of democracy by fondation pour l’innovation politique and the international republican institute

Notes

*.

Albanian (Albania and North Macedonia), Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek (Greece and Cyprus), Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Maltese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Romanian, Russian (Estonia and Latvia), Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, and Ukrainian.

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**.

** fondapol.org, iri.org and republicadoamanha.org.

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The Fondation pour l’innovation politique is a French think tank that upholds the values of freedom, progress and European ideals. The International Republican Institute is an American organization that promotes democracy around the world. The two organizations, in partnership with the Brazilian think tank República do Amanhã, joined forces to create an extensive international survey conducted across 42 countries, the results of which are published hereafter under the title: Democracies Under Pressure. All the results are available to the public in the thirty-three languages* the survey was administered in as open data on the respective websites of the three institutions**.

This project is based on a questionnaire written in French and in English by the teams of the partnered organizations. It was administered by Ipsos across national samples selected from each of the 42 surveyed countries. The scale of the survey made it possible to integrate the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union, to make comparisons between these and the European countries that are not members of the European Union (Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine), those that seek to join it (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia) or even, in contrast, with the United Kingdom, which seems to have decided to leave it, although the situation in this latter country remains very unclear at the time of writing (April 25th 2019).

The goal of conducting a global survey on the state of democracy has led us to expand the group of surveyed countries by including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the United States, Israel, Japan and New Zealand in the scope of observation.

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42 countries, 33 languages, 66,395 interviewees

In total, 36,395 people were surveyed. The study was conducted on the basis of representative national samples drawn from the population aged 18 years and older. Quotas for gender,  age, profession,  region  and size of community were used to ensure the representativeness of the samples. The samples take into account the demographic weighting of each country: the size of the samples was 1,000 people in countries with more than 8 million inhabitants, 600 people for those with 5 to 8 million inhabitants and 500 people for countries with less than 5 million inhabitants. For some countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia), the sample size was increased to 800 people despite a population of less than 8 million in order to solidify the analysis of the results.

The survey, which included 35 questions published at the end of volume II, “The Countries” (pp. 107 – 114), was administered in each of the national languages, amounting to 33 languages across the 42 countries. In order to minimize the effect of situational factors, the data was collected over a five-week period (between September 6th and October 11th 2018). The interviews were conducted via a self-administered online questionnaire, with the exception of five countries where face-to-face interviews were preferred: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Malta and North Macedonia.

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A 35-question survey

Notes

***.

*** The opinions of the various authors who contributed to this international survey do not necessarily reflect those of the  International Republican Institute.

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For most of the questions, we asked respondents to answer by choosing a level on a four-point  scale, of the “yes, absolutely”/”yes, somewhat” and “not really”/”not at all” type, to assess, for example, levels of satisfaction, trust or optimism. In this document, for the sake of convenience and legibility, we usually present and comment on the results by adding up, on the one hand, the “yes, absolutely”/”yes, somewhat” answers and, on the other hand, the “not really”/”not at all” answers.

In some cases, respondents were asked to choose between two options. Thus, for example, to the question “which of the following two statements is closest to your opinion”, the options offered to the respondent were “globalization is an opportunity” or “globalization is a threat”. Some of the questions had three possible answers. For example, when asked about the benefits to their country of NATO membership, respondents could answer that the latter is “a good thing”, “a bad thing”, or “neither a good thing nor a bad thing”.

For each question, respondents received a notification if they did not respond to a certain question with the following message: “Please try to answer the question. However, if you have no opinion on this question, you may move on to the next one by clicking on the “next question” button (between 0 and 2% non-responses  for both online and face-to-face answers).

Lastly, the results are presented either by country or by sub-category, such as “European Union” (EU). For a given question, the EU average corresponds to the result across the Member States of the European Union, i.e. twenty-seven countries, with values weighted according to their respective demographic weights. The decision was made not to include the United Kingdom in the “EU” calculations as the British have expressed   a desire to leave the European Union.

The overall results are presented in the “GLOBAL” category. For a given question, the “GLOBAL” average therefore corresponds to the result across the 42 surveyed democracies, the value of each country having been weighted taking into account their demographic weight within the overall sample.

The reader will see that we have often grouped categories together to make the data clearer and easier to present. This never alters the value of these data, the details of which cannot be presented in full in such a volume, and which are freely accessible in full on the websites of the three institutions***.

I Section

Fragile democracies

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The ambiguity of commitment to democracy

Dominique Reynié 

Notes

1.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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2.

This category includes the unemployed, students, and also homemakers.

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Overall, about half of respondents (49%) believe that democracy works poorly in their country. In some countries, this assessment is even more severe. More than three-quarters of Brazilians (77%) have a negative opinion of the functioning of their democracy. This must be put in the very specific context of Brazil, where the survey took place just a few weeks before a historic election. Much differently, in the United States, two years after Donald Trump’s election, two-thirds of citizens believe that democracy works well in their country (66%).

In terms of opinion, Europe presents  a very mixed picture. There are several European worlds. Outside the European Union, democracy fares better if we look at Switzerland, where 88% of respondents say that democracy works well, much like in Norway (86%). Across the European Union, satisfaction is declining sharply: only 50% of respondents believe that democracy works well in their country. In a weakened democratic world, a crisis exists which is specific not to Europe, but to the European Union. One explanation lies in the state of opinion in the former communist bloc countries1. On average, in these eleven countries, two-thirds of respondents (64%) feel that their democracy is not working well. But they are not the only ones with this negative opinion. The feeling that democracy is not working well also dominates in Italy (67%), Spain (61%) and Greece (58%). It is close to the majority in France (47%). On Europe’s doorstep, this criticism is also widespread: in Albania (55%), North Macedonia (63%), and even more so, in Bosnia and Herzegovina (76%) or Serbia (77%), as well as Ukraine (76%).

At the level of the forty-two countries studied, men (53%) more frequently believe that democracy is working well than do women (48%), but dissatisfaction is particularly prevalent in the more vulnerable categories, the small self-employed business owners (59%), the service staff and store clerks (57%), those who do not work (56%)2, the skilled employees (52%) and the skilled workers (51%). This economic and social division can be found in the link between respondents’ judgement of the functioning of democracy and their relationship to globalization: more people who view globalization as a threat (55%) believe that democracy is working poorly than do those who view globalization as an opportunity (47%). This negative assessment of the functioning of democracy is even more pronounced (60%) in those in the intermediate age group (between 35 and 59 years) for whom globalization is a threat. It should be noted that among students, the idea that democracy is working poorly is clearly the majority position (58%).

Would you say that democracy in your country works very well, well, poorly or very poorly?

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Total responses: “very well” and “well”

 

© Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

However, judging that democracy works badly in one’s country is not necessarily an expression of a rejection of democracy. On the contrary, it may even be the manifestation of a critical judgement combining support for the principle with the acknowledgement of practices that do not fulfil it, or even betray it. For example, most (83%) of those who responded that they do not feel free to express themselves also say that democracy is working poorly in their country. This is why we also invited people to choose between two statements that help better understand their attachment to democracy, offering distinct options: on the one hand, the idea that democracy is the best system and that there is no other possibility; on the other, that other systems might be just as good. The option “there is no substitute for the democratic system, it is the best possible system” was chosen by two-thirds of respondents (67%), with the remaining third choosing the option “other political systems might be just as good as the democratic system” (33%). The overall assessment of the democratic system therefore remains favorable. Furthermore, among those who say that there is no better system than democracy, a significant proportion (41%) simultaneously indicate that democracy is not working well in their country, pointing out that, in some cases, respondents are condemning the unsatisfactory manner in which democracy is functioning rather than challenging the system’s fundamental value. But, again, it is not easy to determine the meaning of the skeptical or dissident third who believe that such equally good political systems may exist.

In European Union countries, the idea that “there is no substitute for the democratic system, it is the best possible system” unites the same proportion of respondents (68%) as at the global level (67%). However, if we look at all the countries of the former Soviet bloc, the idea that “other political systems might be just as good as democracy” unites 40% of respondents. In the Balkans, public opinion in EU candidate countries engaged  in democratic transition also supports the idea that other systems might be just as good as democracy, for instance among the Macedonians (45%), Bosnians (50%) and Serbs (54%). Only the Albanians match the overall level, with a large majority (63%) saying that the democratic system “is the best possible system”.

Though dominant in Central and Eastern Europe, this distance from democracy is not the exclusive preserve of the former communist countries. In the West, the Belgians are equally supportive (40%) of the option stating that “other political systems might be just as good as democracy”, as are the French (39%).

Socio-demographically, women are more likely (36%) than men (29%) to believe that an undemocratic regime might be “as good” as democracy. The effect of age is also very clear. The younger the respondents, the fewer of them think that democracy is an irreplaceable regime: 76% among those aged 60 and over, 68% among those aged 50-59, 64% among those aged 35-49 and 62% among those under 35.

 

Would you say that democracy in your country works very well, well, poorly or very poorly? (continued)

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Total responses: “very well” and “well”

 

© Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

There is no substitute for the democratic system, it is the best possible system

Copyright :

© Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

The effect of social standing is hardly surprising, but its consequence should be highlighted: the idea  that there is no political system as good as the democratic system convinces senior executives (79%), intellectual and scientific professionals (73%) and the intermediate occupations (70%) much more than skilled employees (63%), skilled workers (61%) or the working-class world of service and retail workers, low-skilled blue-collar workers, maintenance workers and agricultural workers (59%). In a way, the democratic system seems to be more strongly supported by the social elite than by the working classes. This may be a kind of political and sociological truism, but it can become a particularly thorny political problem.

Notes

3.

“Being led by a strongman who does not have to worry about Parliament or elections”, “Having experts decide what is best for the country, rather than the government”, “Having the armed forces govern the country”, “Having a democratic political system with an elected Parliament that controls the government”, “Having citizens decide what is best for the country, rather than the government”, “Granting the right to vote only to citizens with a sufficient level of knowledge”.

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Representative democracy competes with direct democracy

 

As it is commonly understood, representative democracy describes a system in which citizens elect representatives who govern for them for a set period of time, a so-called mandate, at the end of which they can only continue to act on condition that they obtain the approval of the people again by means of general elections. But democracy is by nature an inexhaustible theoretical and controversial subject, since it is based on the principle of the universal right to express one’s opinion. It can also be defined by the idea of involving citizens in public decision-making more often, by combining elections and referenda, or even imagining a “direct democracy”, amounting to collectively deciding on all subjects without needing representatives to facilitate doing so.

Six different systems3 were presented in our survey, inviting respondents to state, for each, whether it seemed like a good or a bad way of governing. Among these six options, the model of representative democracy (“having a democratic political system with an elected Parliament that controls the government”) has the broadest support (82%), followed by the model of direct democracy, phrased as follows: “Having citizens decide what is best for the country, rather than the government.” Three-quarters of respondents (72%) considered this form of democracy a good way of governing. Across all forty-two democracies, the gap between the options of direct and indirect democracy is just 10 points.

For each one, indicate whether this way of governing a country is/would be very good, good, bad, or very bad

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Total responses: “very good” and “good”

 

© Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Europeans express a slightly higher level of support for representative democracy (87%), while direct democracy receives  less support (64%), although this remains at a high level. This result,  which is favorable  to representative democracy, is all the more significant because it is also found in the countries of the former communist bloc. Indeed, in the East, public opinion supports the representative interpretation of democracy (86%) to the same extent. On the other hand, with regard to the level of support for direct democracy, there is a significant gap (14 points) between the sixteen countries that previously formed Western Europe (61%) and the eleven countries that previously formed the Eastern bloc (75%). Furthermore, the Swiss, who are not members of the European Union, form a sort of third Europe: even though they are renowned for  their numerous referenda, they still largely (87%) approve of representative democracy. They are even less enthusiastic about direct democracy (67%) than the overall average (72%).

The parliamentary institution is not trusted by citizens 

 

The widely approved model of representative democracy, organized around an elected Parliament that controls the government, is, however, in competition with support for the model of direct democracy, where it is the citizens and not a government that makes decisions. Perhaps we can begin to find an explanation for the ambivalence of opinion toward representative democracy in observing judgements not of the democratic principle, but of the representative institutions. Ambiguity can be interpreted as a sign of a weakness if one considers, despite support for the principle of representative democracy, the collapse of confidence in the institutions that organize it, whether this be Parliament or the elected representatives in general.

Overall, the parliamentary institution evokes the mistrust of a clear majority of respondents (59%). Trust is the majority opinion in only seventeen of the forty-two democracies. Most of these are small, rich European countries: Austria (51%), Cyprus (51%), the United Kingdom (51%), Estonia (53%), Germany (54%), Israel (58%), Ireland (61%), the Netherlands (63%), the United States (63%), Denmark (64%), Sweden (65%), Malta (66%), Canada (66%), New Zealand (70%), Switzerland (70%), Norway (73%) and Luxembourg (76%). Across the European Union, mistrust of national Parliaments reaches 60%. As for the European Parliament, although it also generates mistrust among the majority, the level is significantly lower (51%). In the countries of former communist Europe, the average lack of trust in national Parliaments is record-breaking (78%), while the European Parliament elicits more trust (50%) than suspicion (45%).

This is a further sign in favor of the hypothesis that representative democracy is less contested in principle than it is challenged due to dissatisfaction with the institutions responsible for enacting it.

Notes

4.

The intellectual elite, the media, financial markets, large companies, elected representatives, politicians, religious authorities, the people, criminal organizations (mafia), international institutions, the rich people and the royal family (option proposed in parliamentary monarchies only).

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5.

When asked about who holds the most power among the twelve proposed entities, respondents were instructed to answer with three options: “first”, then “second” and “third”. The total of the mentions, for a designated entity, is therefore the sum of all mentions in the positions: “first”, “second” or “third”.

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According to the public, elected representatives do not hold power 

 

When we asked the question “who holds the most power in your country?” and offered a list comprising twelve entities4, then considered the entities cited “first” as having power, elected representatives were chosen by just 12% of respondents and come in third place, after politicians (30%), constituting, in public opinion, as we see here, a group seen as distinct from elected representatives. These are followed by the rich people (18%), the large companies (11%), financial markets (7%), ahead of the people (6%) and the media (5%). Considering the total selections at any ranking (first, second or third)5, a third (35%) of respondents cited elected representatives, placing them fourth behind politicians (66%), the rich people (45%), large companies (41%) and ahead of financial markets (29%) and the media (22%). In total, less than one-fifth of respondents cite the people (16%) among the entities deemed to have power, around the same level as criminal organizations (15%).

Which of the following categories holds the most power in your country?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

* Option proposed in parliamentary monarchies only.

On average, opinion in European Union democracies varies little when it comes to these results. On the other hand, country by country, there are major divergences within the 42 democracies in the survey.

Taking into account the total number of mentions, elected representatives, cited as holding power by an average of 35% of respondents, are most frequently selected by the Norwegians (61%), Luxembourgers (54%), Swedes (51%), Estonians and Swiss (50%); least frequently by the Albanians (14%), who nonetheless declare their attachment to representative democracy, Cypriots (16%), Italians and Macedonians (17%), and Greeks and Ukrainians (20%). Politicians, cited on average by 66% of respondents, are most commonly chosen by the Albanians (89%), Japanese (85%), Macedonians (84%), Hungarians (83%), Bosnians (82%), Estonians and Maltese (81%), Serbs (80%), Swedes (79%), Poles (78%), Croatians and Norwegians (77%), Bulgarians and Romanians (76%), Czechs (75%), Cypriots and Latvians (73%). The rich people, selected by an average of 45% of respondents, are most often cited by Ukrainians (87%), Bulgarians (71%), Albanians and Hungarians (62%), Slovaks (60%), Lithuanians (58%), Slovenians (57%), Serbs (56%), Croatians and Macedonians (54%), Romanians (53%), Czechs (52%), and Americans (51%).

 

Rarely  cited (35% in total, i.e. in first, second or third  place), elected representatives  are  even less likely to  be selected by younger respondents: 41% among those aged 60 and over, 37% among  those  aged  50-59, 32% among those aged 35-49 and 30% among those aged 18-34. The same applies to the financial markets (29% mentions in total): 35% among those aged 60 and over, 30% among those aged 50-59,  28% among those aged 35-49 and 22% among those aged 18-34. Conversely, the media (22% for the total number of mentions), are more likely to be cited as holding power by younger respondents: 19% among those aged 60 and over, 17% among those aged 50-59, 22% among those aged 35-49 and 27% among those aged 18-34.

The usefulness of voting is called into question by a third of respondents 

 

Attachment to democracy in general, and to representative democracy in particular, is confirmed when one asks about the usefulness of voting. The survey invited people to choose between two options: “voting is worthwhile because elections can make a difference” or “voting is pointless because politicians do not care about the will of the people“. More than two-thirds of respondents chose the first option (70%). If we look at opinion across the European Union itself, there is more skepticism about the usefulness of the vote, as 66% of respondents chose the first option and 34% chose  the second. In the formerly communist democracies of the European Union, the level of skepticism about the usefulness of voting is similar (35%). However, it is close to the majority among Albanians and Macedonians (46%), as well as Ukrainians (48%), and reaches a majority among Serbs (54%), Bulgarians (56%), Slovenians (58%) and Croatians (64%). As we can see, this small group of countries whose citizens believe that voting serves no purpose belongs to the former Soviet world. The exit from communism and the commitment to a process of democratic transition  for some,  extended in certain nations by entry into the European Union, was not enough to convince people of the usefulness of voting. Apart from these cases, it should be noted that the majority of Cypriots (51%) and Belgians (56%) also responded that voting is pointless. Overall, the majority of national opinion is convinced that voting is pointless in 6 of the 42 democracies involved in our survey.

This skepticism about the usefulness of voting becomes somewhat more evident when one considers opinions on globalization. Those who believe that globalization is an opportunity are less likely (26%) to state that voting is useless than those who see globalization as a threat (37%). In other words, here again, the idea that voting serves no purpose is not necessarily, and certainly not entirely, an expression  of invalidation  of the electoral act. It may also be the acknowledgement of a weakening, or even challenge to the feasibility of running states democratically in a world grappling with powers beyond its control.

No decline in attachment to public liberties 

 

Citizens’ skepticism about the usefulness or effectiveness of democratic political procedures and institutions does not affect their attachment to the major public freedoms. This is a critical point, since the opinion that “voting is pointless because politicians do not care about the will of the people” (30%) must be considered in light of the unanimous attachment to “the ability to vote for the candidate of your choosing”, deemed “very important” or “important” by 97% of interviewees, along with “the ability to take part in the decision-making process” (96%). Once again, we see that the skepticism noted is not primarily about the value of the principles or intentions contained in the institutions of representative democracy, but rather about the possibility of making them effective in the world as it is, i.e. to be capable not only of expressing but of realizing collective preferences that have been ascertained through the existing mechanisms. The same massive attachment is noted with regard to “the ability to protest, march in the streets and dissent” (82%) and “having the right to say what you think” (98%). Lastly, and this is a key element, we note the same levels of support for the great public freedoms, between 86% and 98%, in the eleven democracies that emerged from the fall of communism and are now members of the European Union.

Democratic concern about the future of democracy 

 

Expectations about the future of democracy were assessed using the following question: “Would you say that the number of democratic countries in the world is expanding, remaining the same, declining?”

Would you say the number of democratic countries in the world is…

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

In the democratic world, countries where the majority of citizens believe that the number of democracies in the world is in decline are all European, and most are members of the European Union: Greece (61%), Germany (60%), Austria (57%), Slovenia and Serbia (55%), Belgium and Luxembourg (54%), Hungary and  the Netherlands (53%), Italy and Switzerland (52%), France (51%). It should be noted that the view of the democratic system in decline is less widely held in the eleven ex-Soviet European Union Member States (42%) than in the sixteen European Union countries that made up the Western bloc, which are now mostly pessimistic about the future of democracy (52%).

Would you say the number of democratic countries in the world is…

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

It should be noted that the younger the respondents, the more they feel that the number of democracies is expanding. The youngest (18-34 years) are even twice as likely (36%) as the oldest (18% for 60 years old and over) to believe that the democratic model is spreading. Previously reported variables, both in terms of age and professional standing, once again play a role. Overall, considering the respondents from the forty-two democracies studied, the idea that the number of democracies is in decline across the world is shared more  by respondents who consider globalization a threat (44%) than an opportunity (33%). There is a link between pessimistic expectations about the future of respondents’ countries and the idea that democracy is in decline. Likewise, we note a relationship with people’s assessment of the functioning of democracy in their country.

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The transparency of the electoral process called into question

Madeleine Hamel 

Given the centrality of the electoral process to democratic politics, it is surprising to note in our survey that less than a fifth (16%) of the citizens surveyed deem the functioning of elections in their country “absolutely” transparent. Similarly, among the 42 democracies studied, four out of ten citizens (41%) consider their country’s electoral system “not at all” or “not really” transparent.

Would you say that the electoral process is transparent in your country?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Total responses: “not at all” and “not really”

Notes

1.

The following countries fall into this category: Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Malta, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

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2.

The following countries fall into this category: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia.

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3.

The following countries fall into this category: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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4.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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An opinion which reveals new impediments to the transparency of electoral processes 

 

The level of public satisfaction on this crucial point varies significantly depending on the geographical  areas and the countries concerned. The group reporting the highest level of satisfaction is made up of the Commonwealth countries1 covered by the study: on average, three quarters (75%) of the citizens surveyed feel that the functioning of elections in their country is “absolutely” or “somewhat” transparent. This is significantly higher than in the US (61%). The fact that nearly four out of ten Americans (39%) feel that their country’s electoral process is “not really” or “not at all” transparent reflects the scandals surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

Among the responses from the inhabitants of the European Union candidate countries2, this proportion plummets by 19 points compared to the average of the European Union democracies (63%), to a minority position (44%), with one-fifth of the respondents (21%) believing that the electoral system in their country is “not at all” transparent. We can see here how joining the European Union can represent the possibility of finalizing a still-fragile democratic transition.

Denmark has the highest proportion of respondents who feel that their country’s electoral system is transparent (86%), followed by the Swiss (85%) and the Norwegians (83%). In contrast, Hungarians (38%), Croatians (35%), Bulgarians (35%) and Ukrainians (30%) are the most dissatisfied among the 42 democracies in our study. As for the British, they continue to affirm the transparency of their electoral system (75%), despite the complications brought about by the referendum on leaving the European Union. Similar figures can be found in Israel, where nearly three quarters of respondents (74%) consider their electoral process transparent. This sentiment is less widely shared by young Israelis, with more than a third of respondents aged under 35 (34%) believing that the electoral system is not transparent,  compared  to 22% of 35-59 year-olds and 21% of respondents aged 60 and over.

For our survey, Brazilians were interviewed on the eve of a presidential election that would bring the populist Jair Bolsonaro to power. The campaign was characterized by serious accusations from the left regarding Bolsonaro’s use of the WhatsApp messaging app to spread fake news and political propaganda messages. In our survey, the majority of respondents (54%) feel that the electoral system is not transparent. This relationship is reversed on the other side of the Pacific, with 46% of Japanese people finding their electoral system not transparent.

Would you say that the electoral process is transparent in your country?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Faith in the electoral process is strongly influenced by the profile of the people interviewed 

 

Dissatisfaction with the functioning of the electoral system varies according to the profile of the people interviewed, particularly according to gender, as 45% of women think that the electoral system is not transparent, compared to 37% of men. Another divide that may be noted is interest in politics. Indeed, the citizens surveyed who say they are interested in politics tend to see their countries’ electoral system as transparent: 64% versus 51% for those who say they have little or no interest in politics.

Political positioning plays an important role and gives rise to a phenomenon that is worth highlighting. On average, more people who place themselves on the right of the political spectrum judge the electoral system to be transparent (66%) than those who claim to be on the left (58%). This difference is all the more visible as we go towards both ends of the axis, with far fewer people on the far left who see the electoral system as transparent (44%) than on the far right (62%). Perhaps this is a sign of opposed movements, combining increasing disappointment among left-wing citizens and, conversely, greater satisfaction among right-wing citizens, in a democratic world marked by the decline of social democracy and the shift of majorities to the right, election after election.

Would you say that the electoral process is transparent in your country?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Opinions on the transparency of electoral procedures also interact with the perception that respondents have of their situation. A majority of those (54%) who feel that they have suffered a decline in recent years, considering their standard of living to have deteriorated, believe that the functioning of the electoral system is opaque, while this opinion is found among just one third (32%) of those who believe that their standard of living has improved. Among citizens who believe that their way of life is under threat, half (49%) also consider that electoral procedures are not transparent, while, again, this belief is shared by only a third (33%) of those who do not feel that their way of life is threatened. Furthermore, it should be noted that among those who think that things will get worse, one fifth of respondents (19%) feel that the system is “not at all” transparent.

Transparency of the system and democratic values 

 

The idea that the electoral system does not function transparently is linked to a lack of confidence in democracy as a system and in the political institutions of that system.

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Note for the reader: Among the respondents who believe the electoral process is transparent in their country (total of “yes, absolutely” and “yes, somewhat” responses), 76% agree with the idea that “there is no substitute for the democratic system, it is the best possible system” compared to only 55% of those who think the electoral process is not transparent (total of “not really” and “not at all” responses).

A comparable relationship can be seen in terms of faith in the representative institutions: only 9% of respondents who believe that the electoral system is not transparent say they trust the political parties, compared to a third (33%) of those who consider the procedures transparent. Similarly, only 16% of respondents expressing a lack of confidence in the functioning of the elections say they trust their government, compared to 50% of those who deem the functioning of the electoral process satisfactory.

On the other hand, there does not seem to be any fundamental difference with regard to the values that underpin democracy. For example, among people who consider that the electoral system in their country is not transparent, 52% believe that “voting is worthwhile because elections can make a difference”. For this half of respondents, this may mean that their criticism of the functioning of the electoral system has nothing to do with a rejection of the fundamental democratic procedure, but rather with a demand for sincerity and honesty without which democratic ideals and principles are trampled upon.

3

Desinterest in politics erodes democratic ideals

Aminata Kone 

Of the 42 countries surveyed, a large majority of respondents express that they are somewhat or very interested in politics (58%) and less than half claim to be not very interested (42%), or not at all interested. But citizens’ level of attachment to politics has an effect on the significance they accord to democracy, alternative forms of government or socioeconomic issues.

How interested are you in politics?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

First of all, the level of interest in politics does not seem to influence respondents’ perception of socioeconomic issues. The majority are worried about issues ranging from unemployment (71%), diminished purchasing power (73%), economic crisis (79%), and social inequality (80%). Regardless of the level of interest expressed  in politics, the differences between responses do not exceed 3 points, with one notable exception: the less interested respondents are  in politics, the more worried they are about unemployment (74% versus 68%). The same goes for the global assessment of trust in big tech, the Internet and social media. The results vary minimally according to the level of interest in politics.

However, when it comes to the political institutions in place today in the democracies surveyed, we do note a trend of divergence. Those who are uninterested in politics tend to be less attached to democratic ideals than those who are interested. 56% of politically disinterested interviewees find democracy works poorly, while 55% of politically interested respondents find democracy works well. It is also among the respondents who say they are not interested in politics that we find the largest number of citizens (40%) who believe that “other political systems might be just as good as the democratic system”, while only 28% of politically interested respondents agree.

This strongly affects the level of attachment to democratic values: while only 14% of politically interested respondents feel that it is not important to be able to “protest, march in the streets and dissent”, this opinion is shared by one quarter (25%) of politically disinterested respondents. Even more striking, nearly half (49%) of those who are not interested in politics feel that the electoral process in their country is not transparent; on the contrary, nearly two-thirds (64%) of those interested in politics consider their electoral process to be transparent.

Support for alternative forms of government over electoral democracy is more widespread among those who are not interested in politics: 61% of them are in favor of “having experts decide what is best for the country, rather than the government” (versus 54% of those interested in politics), and one-third (33%) of politically disinterested respondents favor a government with a “strongman who does not have to worry about Parliament or elections” (compared to 28% of respondents with an interest in politics).

Disinterest in politics, whether initially due to a lack of education and information or the result of disillusionment, with civic withdrawal reflecting attitudes of protest rather than a lack of knowledge, appears to be one of the determinants of the decline of democratic values and the rise of opinions favoring an authoritarian regime.

Trust in institutions

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Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

Note for the reader: Among the respondents declaring to be interested in politics, 41% trust their government.

4

Is the legitimacy of universal suffrage uncontested?

Dominique Reynié 

Universal suffrage is the theoretical and practical cornerstone of democracy. Voting has become a right that can only be made conditional upon a few fundamental criteria, most often age and nationality. The idea of making access to voting dependent on the mastery of certain skills has existed in the past. It was even an important step on the road to universal suffrage. This system has been referred to as an “epistocracy”. Today, however, making access to voting conditional on certain skills amounts to breaking with the rule of universal suffrage.

Is granting the right to vote only to citizens with a sufficient level of knowledge a good or a bad way of governing?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Total responses: “very good” and “good”

Notes

1.

Dominique Reynié (ed.), What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Paris, 2017, 320 pages.

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2.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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The hypothesis that a democratic deconsolidation is taking place is one of the questions driving our international survey, following on from the previous one1. This deconsolidation could, for example, manifest itself in public opinion through the abandonment of the values, principles and mechanisms that structure and drive democratic politics. This is what we sought to assess by asking the following question: “Please tell me if this is/would be a good way of governing a country: ‘Granting the right to vote only to citizens with a sufficient level of knowledge’”. Over our panel as a whole, one-third (38%) of respondents approved such a restriction on access to voting. This is a striking result in itself, given the centrality of the issue.

Reading the results, one is first struck by the persistence of a divide within the European Union which clearly separates the former Eastern and Western blocks. Across the formerly communist countries which are now members of the European Union2, support for the idea of epistocracy is found among half of respondents (49%). Among the 42 democracies surveyed, Bulgarians are by far the most in favor of this type of limitation (85%). Approval for an epistocratic model is also a majority position among Hungarians and Slovaks (61%), Romanians (52%) and Croatians (50%). The approval level remains very high in Latvia and Lithuania (49%), Estonia (44%), the Czech Republic (41%) and Poland (40%). On the doorstep of the European Union, approval for the epistocratic model dominates among Bosnians (61%), Macedonians (55%) and Ukrainians (49%).

Placed on the dividing line between these two Europes, the Austrians (47%) are the most in favor of epistocracy among all the countries of the former Western block, followed by the Italians (42%). But it is in the West that epistocracy finds the lowest levels of support: among the Spanish (29%), Dutch, Danes and Maltese (28%), Finns (27%), French (24%), Portuguese (23%) and Swedes (23%). Possibly a consequence of Brexit, a significant proportion of British people (41%) agreed with the idea of making the right to vote dependent on having a “sufficient level of knowledge”, far ahead of the Swiss (31%).

Outside the European continent, support for epistocracy is above the overall average (38%) in Australia (45%) and Canada (41%); it is close to the average in the United States (39%), New Zealand (37%), Brazil (36%) and Japan (34%). But support is significantly lower than the average in Israel (23%), which, with one of the lowest levels, is comparable to Sweden, France and Portugal, with Norway having the very lowest level of support for epistocracy (21%).

Support for epistocracy, an indication of an authoritarian culture 

 

At first glance, the epistocratic model is an idea that belongs to the democratic world’s past. However, it receives more significant support among younger respondents, perhaps suggesting that support for epistocracy is one the manifestations of a process of democratic deconsolidation.

Is granting the right to vote only to citizens with a sufficient level of knowledge a good or a bad way of governing?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Total responses: “very good” and “good”

The social hierarchy is correlated to the levels of support for this elitist or meritocratic vision of political participation. Thus, among senior executives and intellectual professions, support for the epistocratic model is more widespread (46%) than among unskilled employees and workers (38%). However, we do not see any link with the level of education. There is no greater support among those who finished their studies before the age of 21 (37%) than among those who finished them at 21 or later (38%). This quick sociological profile leads us to note that the epistocratic idea is more appealing to men (41%) than to women (35%), more to the right of the political spectrum (44%) than to the left (31%), and even more to those who are on the far right (57%) than to those who are on the far left (30%).

These initial indications suggest that approval for this kind of electoral regime could be linked to a more authoritarian take on politics.

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* Total of “very good” and “good” responses to the question “Is granting the right to vote only to citizens with a sufficient level of knowledge a very good, good, very bad or bad way of governing?”.

** Total of “very bad” and “bad” responses to the question “Is granting the right to vote only to citizens with a sufficient level of knowledge a very good, good, very bad or bad way of governing?”.

Note for the reader: Among those who believe that the democratic system is irreplaceable, 35% support epistocracy, i.e. the idea that only citizens who have a sufficient level of knowledge can vote.

In contrast, the respondents’ assessment of the functioning of the electoral system in their country does not seem to affect support for the epistocratic model, which is as widespread among those who believe that the electoral process is transparent (38%) as among those who believe that it is not (38%).

 

 

5

The ghosts of authoritarianism

Dominique Reynié 

Notes

1.

Dominique Reynié (ed.), What next for democracy? An international survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Paris, 2017, 320 pages.

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2.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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3.

On this issue, see Anne Muxel’s analysis in this work, p. 43-46.

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In the previous survey in 2017, which covered 26 democracies1, we were struck by the existence of a demand for authority, understood in the sense of opinions in favor of authoritarian forms of power. We sought to assess this demand by asking respondents to evaluate six different ways of organizing power. Two questions were used, each of which clearly refers to the forfeiting or suspension of freedoms. The first refers to an authoritarian organization of the state, the second suggests entrusting power to the army.

 

The option regarding an authoritarian organization of the state is phrased as follows: “Being led by a strongman who does not have to worry about Parliament or elections.” This option elicited positive responses from nearly a third (31%) of respondents, compared to 69% who responded negatively. Within the European Union, support for the authoritarian option  was found  among  34% of respondents.  If we look  at the state of opinion in the 11 former-Soviet-bloc Member States2, a government led by a “strongman” is supported by 40% of respondents. The authoritarian option approaches majority approval in Estonia (44%), the Czech Republic (46%), reaches it in Slovakia (51%), and surpasses it in Slovenia (54%), Romania (57%) and, more significantly, in Bulgaria (62%) and Lithuania (70%). In the Balkans, the idea is widespread in Serbia (40%) and is predominant in Albania (55%), North Macedonia (61%), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (67%). In Ukraine, it unites almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents. The formerly communist world remains powerfully influenced by authoritarian forms of government. However, in Poland (23%) and, to a lesser degree, in Hungary (34%), this view is, by comparison, much less broadly shared. It is therefore pointless to simplify the picture by dividing Europe into two blocks, one that prefers  to be authoritarian, in the East; the other,  preferring  to be liberal,  in the West. As such, the Austrians are not far from being a majority in favor of the option of an authoritarian state (47%). The level is also much higher than the overall average (31%) among Finns (42%) and Italians and Latvians (41%). Outside Europe, support for an authoritarian form of government is strong in Israel (52%). It is comparatively lower in Japan (16%), the United States (24%) and even Brazil (36%), which was, at the time of this survey, on the verge of a disrupting vote in favor of a promise of authority.

The profile of citizens who are open to the authoritarian organization of power around a “strongman” may seem surprising. As such, men (31%) are barely more inclined than women (30%) to find this a desirable prospect. On the other hand, there is definitely a generational effect, but such that the authoritarian option is increasingly desirable to younger respondents. This should be taken as a possible indication of a process of democratic deconsolidation3.

Indicate whether this way of governing a country is/would be very good, good, bad, or very bad

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Total responses: “very good” and “good”

Less unexpected, support for an authoritarian regime by a “strongman” is lower on the left – from 19% to 26% depending on the position chosen by the respondents on a scale of 0 (far left) to 10 (far right) – than at the center (33%). Support for this mode of government is increasingly strong as we move to the right, reaching 54% of respondents positioned furthest to the right.

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In the European Union, approval for the authoritarian option reaches 44% among skilled workers (compared to 23% among intellectual and scientific professionals). Although it is found among 35% of respondents who see globalization as a threat, this proportion increases even further (47%) among those under 35 years old who fear globalization. The radical extension of this question, the idea of “the armed forces govern[ing] the country”, is considered a good way of governing by 21% of respondents across the 42 democracies of the survey. Public opinion in the former communist countries is even less supportive of this idea (16%). Apart from Romania (24%), none of the 27 EU Member States is above the overall average. The Albanians and Bosnians (29%) and the Macedonians (35%) are more in favor of a government by the armed forces. Outside Europe, the Americans (24%) are slightly above the global average, but it is in Brazilian public opinion (45%) that there is the greatest support for the idea of military power.

Indicate whether this way of governing a country is/would be very good, good, bad, or very bad

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Total responses: “very good” and “good”

6

Men and women hold different perspectives on democracy

Samuel Johannes

The vast majority (93%) of people living in the 42 democracies surveyed agree that “men and women are equal and must have the same rights”. Nevertheless, gender inequality is reflected in the degree to which men and women perceive democratic systems working for them. Democracies in which we observe the highest proportions of respondents who believe that “democracy works well in their country” are also those in which citizens are most likely to consider that “men and women are equal and must have the same rights”. This is the case for Luxembourg and Norway, where 86% of respondents believe their democracy functions well and affirm that “men and women are  equal and must have the same rights” (98%). Conversely, the lowest level of agreement with this statement can be seen among Lithuanians (82%), with only 53% of the population stating that they believe their democracy works well.

Would you say that the electoral process is transparent in your country?

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The survey shows that women are more critical than men about the functioning of democracy in their country: whereas slightly less than half of men (47%) believe democracy works poorly in their country, slightly more than half of women (52%) share this negative viewpoint. In addition, women (64%) are more skeptical than men (71%) when it comes to asserting that “there is no substitute for the democratic system, it is the best possible system”.

It should be noted that while these data are  perceptible  in the averages calculated from the overall results, in over half of the countries surveyed, both genders are statistically tied. However, across all the democracies surveyed, women are more skeptical of various institutions than men, regardless of the overall population’s level of trust.

As the graph shows, women trust the government less than men (33% of women vs. 39% of men), Parliament (39% vs. 44%), political parties (21% vs. 25%) and large companies (40% versus 42%). However, they are more likely to trust unions than men (48% vs. 41%), non-profit organizations (61% vs. 59%), schools (76% vs. 74%) and European institutions (45% vs. 44% for the European Parliament and 44% versus 42% for the European Commission).

Trust in institutions

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

7

Generational renewal: democratic deconsolidation or restructuring

Anne Muxel 

Notes

1.

On this subject, see: Yascha Mounk, Le Peuple contre la démocratie, Éditions de l’Observatoire, 2018, and Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, La Mort des démocraties, Calmann-Lévy, 2019.

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2.

See Myriam Revault d’Allonnes, La Crise sans Essai sur l’expérience moderne du temps, Seuil, 2012.

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3.

For a summary of the opinions and political behaviors of young people in France, see Anne Muxel, Politiquement jeune, Fondation Jean Jaurès/Éditions de l’Aube, 2018.

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For some time now, it has seemed that people’s relationship with democracy has been unravelling over the course of generational renewal and the recent history of Western societies. Several studies have shown a downward trend in trust in democratic political institutions and citizens’ expectations of them1. Of course, democracy as a political project is fundamentally disappointing, precisely because  of its ambition – on the one hand to ensure the government of all while respecting pluralism and difference of opinion and on the other hand, to guarantee the people the ability to express themselves and participate in political decision-making through consent to representation through voting2. But everything suggests that what is happening today is more than just this intrinsic disappointment.

First of all, the social and economic crisis that has become endemic is perpetuating resentment which, in many European societies, jeopardizes young people’s belief in a satisfying future and the prospect of advancement compared to previous generations. On this level, social democracy as a political project is considered by many to have failed to keep its promises of security, social justice, redistribution of wealth, and progress.

Furthermore, trust in democracy is being eroded by a general sense that the points of reference and broad principles that organize both traditional social equilibrium and divisions in Western societies are being lost. Globalization, both cultural and economic, has blurred borders and is perceived by many as a threat rather than a beneficial and promising opportunity. Demands for sovereignty and for focus to be placed back on the national sphere are fueling populism of all kinds, which is increasingly attractive to communities, including many young people3. Democracy in fact finds itself in competition with other models, in particular those which challenge the virtues of its apparatus or institutions.

Furthermore, the demand for order and authority culminates in a challenge to the very foundations on which democracy is based, including its effectiveness and its intrinsic moral and social virtues. This reflects a frustration which is being expressed through the radical temptation to use force and authoritarian leadership, or even processes which oppose the ideals of the democratic project.

I prefer more order even if it means less freedom

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The different symptoms of democratic deconsolidation are not without contradictions. Signs of attachment to democracy still appear to be active and even dominant, in particular the sacredness of freedom, a value dear to young people, who simultaneously express extremist, populist and authoritarian desires. Invited to choose between freedom and order, respondents aged under 35 are more likely than those aged 60 and over to choose freedom, even if it entails the risk of reduced order (48% versus 37% across the sample of 42 democracies studied by the survey). But we nevertheless note that their views on this subject are split: 52% prefer order, even at the risk of reduced freedom. There are also more young people than their elders who feel that threats against democracy justify military intervention (53% of under 35 year-olds vs. 39% of those aged 60 and over), and there are more young people who are open to the possibility of military powers governing their country (31% vs. 11%). Furthermore, young people are structurally more abstentionist and more inclined than their elders to use non-democratic forms of expression, while showing their unwavering commitment to its principles. All these paradoxes raise questions and reveal that young citizens of modern democracies feel unsettled. More than ever, the democratic project, as a political project, needs to be given meaning and moreover education is required.

Let us further explore the forms this deconsolidation takes within the generational dynamic. Beyond the pessimistic and alarmist observation of the “democratorships” that tempt increasing numbers of citizens, especially young people, can we see signs of the restructuring of another relationship with democracy, another set of expectations? For example, how should we interpret the openness observed in the younger generations to other political systems, which does not preclude demands for order and authority? Strictly speaking, is this a shift towards authoritarianism, recalling dark days of history, and thus a kind of decline in people’s faith in democracy, or is it a sign of a desire for something else, a more experimental tendency expressed as openness to systems that they have not experienced and which they probably do not want, given that these threaten the principle of freedom to which they are viscerally attached? The relationship with democracy is affected in different ways depending on the components considered. Let us examine three such components which are characteristic of the fundamental principles of democracy: political representation, participatory democracy and the demand for order.

A generational decline in the importance attributed to voting

 

Among the elements deemed to be “very important” for the proper functioning of democratic systems, the two essential elements, citizens being able to take part in the decision-making process and having the right to vote for the candidate of their choosing, received the support of a large majority (respectively 63% and 79% of respondents in all 42 countries). But, while younger people attach even greater importance to participating in the decision-making process (66% of under 35 year-olds compared to 60% of respondents aged 60 and over), older people place greater emphasis on the electoral dimension of voting (84% of those aged 60 and over compared to 75% of those aged under 35).

For each of the following items, indicate whether it is important for a properly functioning democracy

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Response: “very important”

This gap in perception may seem minor, but reflects a trending generational decline in the importance attributed to voting in the strictest sense, to the benefit of a growing, if poorly-defined, demand for ways to circumvent the different forms of mediation inherent in political representation. Although the act of voting is not blamed as such – 70% of those aged under 35 and 74% of those aged over 60 feel that “it is useful to vote because it is through elections that things can be changed” – the electoral system is nevertheless perceived  by a significant number of citizens, and even more so among young people, as insufficiently transparent (41% of all respondents, 43% of those aged under 35 and 36% of those aged over 60).

Mistrust of institutions and politicians is widespread and by no means an insignificant factor in this outlook. But this mistrust is coupled with a suspicion held by young people towards citizens themselves and their judgement. Thus, much more frequently than their elders – at a rate of nearly one in two – young people believe that it could be beneficial to grant voting rights only to citizens deemed sufficiently competent (48% of those under 35 compared to 30% of those aged over 60, and 38% of the total sample of 42 countries). This is despite the fact that the ability to vote for the candidates of their choice is perceived as “very important” for 75% of those aged under 35. This apparent paradox reflects  the turmoil they potentially face. Voting is not contested in principle, but it is tainted with suspicion both in its implementation and in its applications. This also reflects a crisis of the legitimacy of electoral decision-making, in a general climate of declining democratic credulity.

Indicate whether this way of governing a country is/would be very good, good, bad, or very bad

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Total responses: “very good” and “good”

Protest culture has spread quite widely across Western democracies, maintaining and legitimizing a relationship to the political system which is inevitably more critical. At the same time, the crisis of institutional mediation and the demand for direct citizen participation have strengthened  its methods of expression. Today, 45% of respondents from the 42 democracies studied believe that protesting and demonstrating are “very important” for the proper functioning of democracy. This is slightly more marked among the youngest (47% of respondents aged under 35) but, obviously, this expressive, “protesting” aspect of democracy is now broadly accepted by older populations (42%).

This recognition of protest is in line with the affirmation of a right to self-expression deemed essential in a democratic context: 71% of those aged under 35 and the same proportion among their elders (73%) also consider it “very important” to have the right to say and express what one thinks. And, of course, this necessity is associated with the idea that citizens should participate actively and as directly as possible in political decisions: 72% believe that citizens making decisions rather than the government would be good for their country.

A demand for order and authority

 

It is now a constant reality in national and international surveys: authoritarian temptations are found among a significant percentage of populations that are nevertheless supportive of democracy. While some countries remain less affected, a return to authoritarian leadership is part of the desires of an increasing number of citizens in most European countries. This attraction to authority is part of the rift opened up by the recognition of possible alternatives to the democratic system. While the latter is still considered by a large majority of citizens (67%) to be the best possible political system, despite its flaws and faults, a significant proportion (33%) allow that other systems might be just as good. On this point, a generational gap appears to be growing: 38% of those under 35 subscribe to the idea of possible alternatives, compared to only 24% of those aged over 60.

This openness to other ways and principles of organizing power is coupled among young people with greater acceptance of the possibility of authoritarian leadership: 38% of those aged under 35 can imagine that it would be beneficial for their country to entrust power to “a strong man who does not have to worry about Parliament or elections”, compared to only 23% of those aged 60 and above. The combination of these two elements suggests that democratic deconsolidation is indeed in evidence as part of the process of generational renewal. However, it remains to be seen what direction, meaning and, above all, what impacts on the construction of citizenship and relationships with politics this will entail among today’s younger generations. It is particularly apparent in countries where the democratic experience is still fairly recent (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Northern Macedonia, Romania or Ukraine) and seems to experience more resistance in Spain, Greece, Denmark, the Netherlands, Malta and Sweden. However, even in older democracies, the strong temptation of authoritarian leadership found among young people is also due to their lack of experience in this area, in contrast with older generations.

The combination of the three democratic components examined and the tendencies expressed by the youth of the different countries toward them make it possible to refine the diagnosis and, perhaps, to better understand whether this is a phenomenon of deconsolidation or of restructuring. We can thus tease out several different scenarios:

  • a strong protest culture and a reduction in the importance attributed to voting and representative democracy, combined with a demand for a strong leader likely describes an environment conducive to democratic Within this survey, the countries potentially experiencing this situation are Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Ukraine;
  • a strong protest culture and importance attributed to voting and representative democracy, combined with low demand for a strong leader describes a society in which the democratic project is resistant, though in the context of more critical The countries experiencing this situation are Germany, Denmark, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden;
  • a strong protest culture and importance attributed to voting and representative democracy, combined with a demand for a strong leader, define a complex or even paradoxical demand, like in Israel, where democratic culture can coexist with a demand for authoritarian leadership;
  • a weak protest culture and a low demand for a strong leader, while the focus on voting and representative democracy remains high, can be found in

The attitudes and opinions of young people towards democracy obviously depend on the historical and political contexts of the countries to which they belong. The categorization proposed is far too basic to account for their full complexity. Nevertheless, they call for the relationship of young people to democracy to be considered in all its various elements and show that while there are developments that indicate signs of a deconsolidation, others also indicate signs of restructuring.

II Section

Globalized democracies

1

In the democratic world, globalization is an opportunity

Nicolas Rigaudière 

Notes

1.

The word “globalization” will be used here to refer to this revolutionary process of the increasing integration of different existences across a common global sphere.

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The term “globalization1” describes a process of intensifying international exchanges of all kinds: capital, goods, information, etc. If globalization is one of the most important political issues of the twenty-first century, this is not only because it shapes the everyday life of states and individuals but also because people’s opinions regarding this phenomenon strongly influence their views on many issues. With this in mind, our survey offered respondents the chance to tell us which of the following two responses they connected most with: “Globalization is an opportunity” or “Globalization is a threat”.

Globalization is judged favorably 

 

In the European Union, a clear majority (59%) see globalization as an opportunity. Among Europeans, the Portuguese are the most likely (78%) to consider globalization as an opportunity, ahead of the Swedes (76%), Maltese (72%), Danes (71%) and Finns (70%). In contrast, it is perceived as a threat by the Slovaks (51%), Estonians (52%), French (56%), Cypriots (59%), Greeks (59%) and Czechs (63%).

While there is a majority opinion in the European Union in favor of globalization (59%), its level is significantly lower than that across the globe (66%). Within the English-speaking world, globalization is more widely perceived as an opportunity by Canadians (74%), New Zealanders (68%), British (65%) and, to a lesser extent, Americans (62%), with 43% of the latter living in cities with less than 15,000 inhabitants considering it a threat. Australians (57%) are also at the European level. Furthermore, it is worth noting the high level of the population which regards globalization favorably in Norway (73%), Israel (75%), Japan (76%) and Brazil (81%). More surprisingly, in Switzerland, one of the countries considered to be the most interconnected, only half of citizens see globalization as an opportunity (50%).

 

 

On a global scale, positive assessments of globalization remain in the majority (66%) regardless of most of the sociodemographic criteria chosen. Gender is not a significant differentiating factor: 35% of men and 33% of women consider it to be a threat. There are only small differences by age, with 31% of those under 35, 35% of the 35-59 category and 36% of those over 60 sharing  this  opinion. Larger variations appear depending on the socio-professional category. The optimism generated by globalization is more widespread among senior managers and intellectual professions (71%) than among unskilled workers and employees, where it nevertheless remains the majority opinion (62%). Level of education does have an effect, as the proportion of respondents who did not continue their studies beyond the age of 21 and who consider globalization an opportunity (59%) is significantly lower than the proportion of those who continued beyond the age of 21  and who share the same opinion (69%). However, perceptions of the issue vary significantly between cities and their suburbs: respondents from cities with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants are most likely to describe globalization as a threat (40%), while residents of cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants see it as an opportunity (72%). The last noteworthy fact is that, on average, more people on the left of the political spectrum see globalization as an opportunity (72%) than on the right (61%).

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Note for the reader: Among those who consider that globalization is an opportunity, 63% think that being part of the European Union is a good thing.

2

The challenge of migration in the light of refugee issue

Dominique Reynié 

Among the challenges facing the democratic world, demography is without a doubt one of the most significant. The question arises because most democracies are ageing, which creates the problem of generational renewal as well as that of effects on the economy (the welfare state) or collective representations and political opinions. Given the low population growth of the richest nations, the problem of generational renewal therefore raises the question of immigration. Although deemed necessary, immigration nevertheless arouses considerable resistance, even strong hostility, among significant segments of the public, sometimes even the majority. The demographic issue is affecting democratic countries exposed to migratory influxes, which are generally felt by the public to be massive. This issue has an even greater impact on political debate given that these influxes are made up of migrants from Muslim cultures, sparking cross-cultural tensions which populist parties rely on to develop their bases of support.

Democratic dissatisfaction and opposition to hosting refugees

 

In our study, we see these opinions playing out with impressive force, particularly in the European democratic arena. To measure its significance, we have asked a series of questions, one of which concerns welcoming refugees. We will not reduce the migration issue to the welcoming of refugees. Nevertheless, we can accept that the degree of acceptance for a policy of welcoming refugees provides information about the perception of migratory phenomena.

We first asked, “Regarding refugees, do you agree with the following statement: ‘It is our duty to welcome refugees fleeing war and poverty into our country’?”. Across all 42 democracies, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) agree with this statement. The existence of a truly European issue is immediately reflected in a narrowing of the gap, across the European Union, between those who say they agree that such a duty exists (62%) and those who do not (38%). Considering the eleven countries that joined the European Union after the collapse of communism1, we can see that majority opinion (53%) does not support such a duty: opposition to the principle of welcoming refugees reaches 78% in the Czech Republic, 64% in Slovakia, 62% in Bulgaria, 58% in Estonia, 56% in Slovenia, 53% in Romania, 52% in Hungary and 51% in Latvia.  While  in  the minority, this opposition is still very strong in Lithuania (47%) and Poland (45%). On the doorstep of the European Union, it is also strong among Macedonians (55%), Serbs (43%) and Ukrainians (40%). But shared positions on this issue are not simply defined by the old border separating Western and Eastern Europe. A significant proportion of French respondents (43%) as well as British (41%) and Finns (40%) reject the principle of a duty to accept refugees. Outside Europe, there is also a high level of rejection in Israel (56%), Australia and Japan (48%).

Across the democratic world in this survey, support for this duty is more widespread among 18-34 year-olds (70%) than among those aged 60 and over (62%). This support becomes a minority opinion (49%) among those who view globalization as a threat. The link between the fear of globalization and opposition to the principle of accepting refugees is stronger in European democracies. As observed in the adjacent table, overall, this link increases with age. Conversely, in the EU, among those who fear globalization, the youngest are the most opposed to welcoming refugees.

“It is our duty to welcome refugees fleeing war and poverty into our country”

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Total responses: “strongly agree” and “agree”

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Note for the reader: In the democratic world, 61% of people aged under 35 y.o. who think globalization is a threat agree with the statement “It is our duty to welcome refugees fleeing war and poverty into our country”.

It is also interesting to note that, overall, respondents on the left are overwhelmingly in favor of letting refugees in (80%), whereas respondents on the right support doing so by only a small majority (53%). Everything indicates that overall in the democratic world as well as in the European Union, there exists a right wing which is hostile to the principle of welcoming refugees.

We can see a resonance between this right-wing opinion which opposes hosting refugees and a viewpoint rooted in protest politics. The link with fear or rejection of globalization is an initial indication. Other links can be identified by observing the relationship with a series of opinions, either negative or critical, about the democratic system, presented in the table below.

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* Total of “strongly agree” and “agree” responses to the question “Do you agree with the following statement regarding refugees: ‘It is our duty to welcome refugees fleeing war and poverty into our country’?”.

** Total of “strongly disagree” and “disagree” responses to the question “Do you agree with the following statement regarding refugees: ‘It is our duty to welcome refugees fleeing war and poverty into our country’?”.

Note for the reader: In the democratic world surveyed, among those who consider that democracy works well in their country,  66% agree with the following statement: “It is our duty to welcome refugees fleeing war and poverty into our country”.

It can be seen that, on the whole, negative, suspicious or critical judgements of democracy and its functioning are linked to the more marked rejection of a policy of welcoming refugees. In Europe, these mechanisms play out in the same way, but with greater force. Protest positions are linked to the rejection of a duty to let refugees in. Without being able to distinguish cause from effect, a link appears to exist between respondents’ opinions on welcoming refugees and their opinion on the functioning of democracy, supporting the idea of  an atmosphere conducive to populism observed in the European area.

European public opinion and the reasons for not accepting refugees

As we have seen, while the idea of a duty to welcome refugees is supported by public opinion, its extent varies depending on the democracy considered and according to the opinion expressed by the respondents on their democracy and its functioning. The reasons for not welcoming refugees are sometimes approved by huge majorities. With the question “For each of the following statements, please indicate whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree?”, we provided a series of statements corresponding to reasons not to accept refugees in order to assess respondents’ opinions.

We cannot let in more refugees because…

Total responses: “strongly agree” and “agree”

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For each of the four reasons proposed, there is a significant difference between overall opinion across the 42 democracies and European opinion within the 27 countries of the European Union (EU). As we can see, European opinion is more broadly in agreement on the reasons for not accepting refugees than overall opinion. One of these reasons, that of conflicts of values and problems with coexistence, is rejected by overall opinion (58%) but endorsed by European opinion (53%), underlining the importance of this topic in the European democratic arena and its unique character when compared to the democratic world as a whole. Features of European opinion are evident in all eleven European Union democracies that were formerly members of the communist bloc, although here they are much more strongly affirmed.

Concern about differences in values, however, is not the sole preserve of citizens of the European Union. Nearly half of the Swiss (49%) also see this risk of difficult cohabitation as a reason not to welcome refugees. They also share the fear of an increase in crime (57%) and economic problems for the country (52%). But outside Europe, as far as the issue of values is concerned, this fear is a majority position among the Israelis, Japanese (53%) and Australians (51%). The fear of terrorism is highly present among the Americans (52%), British and Israelis (55%), but also among the Australians (61%) and the Japanese (65%). The idea of a risk of crime is also held by the British (52%), Australians (56%) and Israelis (68%). Furthermore, economic risk is a reason for rejection shared by a majority in almost all the European Union countries, with the exception of Ireland (35%), Luxembourg (36%), Germany (44%) and Portugal (47%). Citizens of equally rich countries, the British nevertheless share this reason for rejection (51%) not only with the Europeans but also with the Australians (54%) and the Japanese (55%).

Europeans want immigration to be dealt with at the EU level 

 

On a theoretical level, the case of refugees should be distinguished from immigration. The idea of refugees evokes exceptional and temporary circumstances. The reasons for their flight may end and the refugees may return to their home countries, as most of them would like to do. In contrast, the idea of immigration evokes a structural phenomenon, made up of influxes that may vary in scale but are ongoing and which open, for newcomers, the possibility of long-term or even permanent settlement. A majority (61%) concern about immigration across the democratic world has already been noted. In the European Union, this concern is even more widespread (69%). In the 11 formerly-communist Member States of the European Union, it is shared by 73% of respondents. Aside from these countries, where it is growing considerably, concern about immigration is particularly high in Spain (72%), Italy (74%), Belgium (77%), Cyprus (82%), Malta (87%), Greece (88%), but also in the Western Balkan EU candidate countries of Serbia (70%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (73%), Albania (78%) and North Macedonia (87%).

The option of choosing whether immigration problems are dealt with at a national or supranational level is only available to citizens of the European Union.

 

Concerning immigration, the best solution is to…

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Notes

2.

The following countries fall into this category: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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3.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

+ -

This preference increases to 72% of respondents if we consider only the 16 countries of former Western Europe2. By contrast, the average found across the 11 former communist countries3 still shows a preference for governance at the EU level (55%) rather than at the national level (45%), but the gap is narrower.

In this former Eastern Europe, the gap is even smaller if we consider the opinion of the youngest respondents: those aged under 35 are more likely to want immigration to be dealt with at the national level (49%), while those aged 60 and older want the European Union to take the lead (58%).

However, once again, with regard to immigration, the intra-European split does not fall entirely along old political divisions. In the West, some countries more than others face major immigration management problems. It is striking to note that public opinion there is even more in favor of European management of the issue: this is the case, for example, among the French (68%), Belgians (75%), Greeks (79%), Spaniards (83%) and Italians (86%), who have seen their political system shaken up and even fractured by the seriousness of this issue.

3

Territories in globalization: the metropolis and its surroundings

Victor Delage 

The social and spatial structure of territories varies considerably from one state to another. In an era of globalization, national territories are experiencing significant phenomena of expansion and contraction between, on the one hand, major metropolises, the new engines of the world, and, on the other hand, peripheral zones, comprising smaller cities, including medium and small towns, as well as rural areas, which often feel isolated from the new workings of the world. In our survey, across all 42 democracies studied, the perception of globalization varies according to a distinct territorial divide: 40% of the people surveyed living in communities with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants consider globalization a threat, whereas this fear is shared by less than a third (28%) of people living in cities with 500,000 inhabitants and more, which we will refer to below as “metropolises”.

Which of the following statements is the closest to your personal opinion?

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Metropolitan residents are concerned about their standard of living 

 

Nevertheless, with regard to the results, it is necessary to qualify the idea, often put forward, that the territorial divide is built on the feeling that the rural world has been abandoned, particularly with regard to access to employment or public services. Unemployment is a major concern (69%) among people living in small towns and rural territories (communities with less than 15,000 inhabitants), but it is more widespread (72%)  in metropolises (cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants). We find the same small or, more often than not, practically non-existent gaps when we ask the question “On each of the following subjects, please indicate whether you are very worried, worried, not very worried or not worried at all” about diminished purchasing power, the funding of social programs (retirement benefits, healthcare, etc.), social inequality, and also the economic crisis, government debt and deficits.

Indicate whether you are worried or not about each of the following topics

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Total responses: “very worried” and “worried”

In contrast the feeling of threat to lifestyle is more pronounced outside metropolises

 

Faced with the revolution of globalization and the demographic ageing of democracies,  our survey  shows that the first territorial divide forms around a sense of identity-based discontent, which is more prevalent among citizens of small towns and rural territories than among metropolitan populations. The fear caused by immigration, which is evident throughout a democratic world faced with unprecedented and ongoing influxes of migration, is more widespread outside metropolises (66%) than in cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants (56%). It should be noted that in cities with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants, the principle of accepting refugees generates a little less support (60%) than in metropolises (65%). Outside metropolises, the reasons for not accepting refugees are more widely shared. Here, the territorial differences are more marked.

We cannot let in more refugees because…

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Total responses: “strongly agree” and “agree”

The fear aroused by a difference in values is particularly apparent in opinions on Islam. Islam causes more concern among the populations of cities with less than 15,000 inhabitants (65%) than among those of metropolises (57%). Similarly, to the question “Most of the time, how do you react when you learn that someone is Muslim?”, 28% of people living in communities with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants say they react negatively, compared to 22% for residents of cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants.

The temptation of authoritarianism is more pronounced in small and medium-sized communities 

 

The second great divide between the metropolitan world and its surroundings involves opinions on democracy itself. More than a third (35%) of respondents living in communities with less than 15,000 inhabitants feel that “other political systems might be just as good as the democratic system” versus 30% in metropolises. Furthermore, the idea of “being led by a strongman who does not have to worry about Parliament or elections” is accepted by more people in communities with less than 15,000 inhabitants (34%) than in metropolises (29%).

It is as if citizens living outside of the major decision-making centers, the metropolises, have distanced themselves from politics. Here we can see a significant difference between the two worlds: outside metropolises, citizens say they are less interested in politics (54% among people living in communities with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants, compared to 62% for metropolises). They express the same level of mistrust towards the major national democratic institutions when it comes to the government (63% versus 66%), Parliament (57% versus 61%) and the judicial system (43% versus 44%). However,  outside metropolises, trust is higher when it comes to the police (73% versus 65%), the armed forces (74% versus 68%) or schools (76% versus 74%).

Globalization, territories and innovation 

 

The Internet and technological innovations should be partially able to compensate for the handicap of size and distance that the peripheral zones suffer from compared to large urban centers, but here again it is the cities that see this as an opportunity. Indeed, trust in technological innovations and in the Internet is the third point of support for the territorial divide that can be observed in our survey. Citizens living outside the metropolises are more concerned about the negative consequences of technological and scientific discoveries: 13% of inhabitants of communities with less than 15,000 inhabitants consider the latter harmful to freedoms (compared to 9% in metropolitan areas), 17% consider them bad for employment  (compared  to 11%),  8% see them as harmful for health (compared to 6%) and 19% for social relations (compared to 14%).

These figures can be explained, at least in part, by the concentration of economic activities and centers of innovation in large urban centers, which is one of the consequences of globalization. The respondents who offer the most positive opinions on the effects of the Internet and social networks are also those who live in cities, where the best transport infrastructures and communications networks are found.

The Internet and social media…

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Response: “agree”

4

Islam causes concerns

Dominique Reynié 

Across all 42 countries surveyed, six out of ten people (60%) consider Islam to be a source of concern, alongside pollution (85%), the crisis of funding for the welfare state (87%), crime (85%), political extremism (83%), social inequality (80%), terrorism (80%), economic crisis (79%), government debt and deficits (79%), diminished purchasing power (73%), war (71%), unemployment (71%), and immigration (61%). There are two things to note here: concern about Islam is widely prevalent, but it is not the main worry. However, compared to other causes of concern proposed, it is not easy for people to express their worries about Islam. Nor is it an issue that can easily be placed on the same level as the other proposed areas of concern. That being said, the data on this issue are particularly important if we want to look at the reasons for the democratic crisis, particularly in the European democratic world.

At the European Union level, according to the responses to the list of concerns, the level of worry about Islam appears to be higher (68%) than across the whole democratic world studied in our survey (60%). It is close to the level in Switzerland (66%), and lower than levels recorded elsewhere, in Israel (76%) for example. However, concern about Islam is much more widespread among citizens of the European Union than in Brazil (62%), Japan (61%), Australia (60%), the United States (54%), the United Kingdom (53%) and Canada (52%). In most countries, more than one in two respondents state that Islam is a cause for concern. This sentiment is the minority position in only a few of the countries surveyed: Norway (49%), New Zealand (48%), Serbia (47%), Ireland (47%), Ukraine (40%), and, of course, Bosnia and Herzegovina (33%) and Albania (27%), two countries with a high proportion of Muslim citizens.

 

Concern about Islam is stronger in Europe’s democracies 

 

We know that Europe is increasingly being tested by the issue of Islam, for powerful geographical, historical and demographic reasons. Its geography makes it difficult to control and regulate migration, and immigration to Europe comes primarily from Muslim countries. Europeans are increasingly coming into contact with Islam, and the intensification of this relationship is giving rise to intercultural conflicts, tensions over values, and a return to religious faith, including in the political arenas of countries that have long been secular. Terrorism and crime are areas of concern that public opinion tends to associate with Islam and are most often linked  to controversy over immigration. This is reflected in the opinion expressed in our survey: knowing that a person is Muslim elicits a negative reaction among 26% of all respondents in the 42 democracies studied, but this reaction is found among almost one third (31%) of respondents in the European Union, and 37% across the 11 post-communist Member States.

About Islam, indicate whether you are worried or not

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Total responses: “very worried” and “worried”

No other religion causes such a level of negative sentiment: 7% of those interviewed tell us that they have a negative reaction when they learn that a person is Jewish (8% in   the European Union and 11% in the 11 formerly communist countries), 6% when they learn that a person is Catholic (7% in the European Union), 6% when they learn that they are Protestant (5% in the European Union), 6% if they are Orthodox (6% in the European Union) and 13% in the case of atheists (7% in the European Union, a significant difference of 6 points). It should be noted that among those interviewed who respond  negatively to the news that a person is Jewish, 78% expressed concern about Islam.

Among European Union citizens, the profile of those worried about Islam is clear, although it must not lead us to forget that this fear is a majority position (68%), whatever category or criterion is chosen. Thus, women are certainly more worried (69%), but two-thirds of men (66%) share this concern. Similarly, while those aged 60 and over are more worried (75%), a large majority of young people aged 18 to 34 share their concern (58%). While skilled workers (74%) are more worried than the average, senior executives are not so different (64%).

 

Fear of Islam tests democracy 

 

In the European Union, the sociopolitical contours of the fear of Islam reveal a growing political universe. The facts are that this fear is much more widespread among right-wing voters (81%) than among left-wing voters (53%), among those for whom globalization is seen as a threat (78%) than among those who see it as an opportunity (60%), and among those who “prefer more order even if it means less freedom” (75%) than among those who say they “prefer more freedom even if it causes less order” (56%). Fear of Islam is also more widespread among respondents who believe that democracy in their country is not working well (72%) than among those who believe it is working well (64%), and among those for whom voting seems useless (73%) than among those who consider it useful (65%). Furthermore, in line with the “authoritarian personality” model presented by Theodor Adorno1, fear of Islam is more widespread among those who support the death penalty (79%) than among those who oppose it (59%).

The fact that this feeling is so widespread in European democracies reflects their right-wing tendencies, both in the sense that the proportion of Europeans  who take a right-wing position  is constantly  increasing, and in the sense that right-wing Europeans are tending to move further to the right. Fear of Islam is one of the main drivers of political developments in the European area in general and in the European Union specifically. This is, of course, one of the main causes of the populist surge, to the detriment of establishment political parties and, more specifically, to the detriment of those on the left.

About Islam, indicate whether you are worried or not (continued)

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Total responses: “very worried” and “worried”

5

Religion: tolerance and tensions

Victor Delage 

Although it has its limits, this survey allows us to observe the place of religion in democratic societies and the role it plays in public discourse. Clearly, globalization and migratory phenomena are redefining the role of religions in the democratic world. Globalization promotes a new visibility of the range of religions; moreover, the globalization of public space and migratory phenomena involve an affirmation of religious affiliations and the identities that proclaim them. At the very least in response to this new trend, democratic political cultures can be led to redefine the forms and intensity of secularization.

We have asked a series of questions relating  to religious  tolerance, power and trust in religious  institutions.  It should be specified from the beginning that the notions of religion and spirituality have different meanings for different respondents, for at least two reasons: firstly, a proportion of respondents recorded as belonging to a religion may state that they are faithful but not perceive themselves as “religious people”, and secondly, people who state that they are atheists, in other words that they do not believe in a god, sometimes do not differentiate between this position and being agnostic, i.e. not being able to decide for themselves whether or not a god exists.

Clear secularization: religious institutions are not associated with power…

 

The religious institutions are not associated with power. When asked about who holds the most power in their country, only 8% of respondents cited “religious authorities” among the three categories they were invited to nominate, far behind “politicians” (66%), “the rich people” (45%), and “big companies” (41%).  We note that this figure refers to the total number of selections, whether religion was cited “first”, “second” or “third” in power.

Which of the following categories holds the most power in your country?

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* Option proposed in parliamentary monarchies only.

In countries where Catholicism is reflected in the state ideology, the religious authorities are seen as holding power. The Polish (42%), Croatians (38%) and, to a lesser extent, Italians (15%) thus place the religious authorities among the three most powerful categories in their country. The same applies to the predominantly Orthodox European countries, with 38% of Cypriots, 23% of Greeks and 16% of Romanians regarding the religious authorities as holders of power. Outside Europe, only the Israelis (35%) stand out from the rest of  the democratic world studied.

… But they arouse a great deal of mistrust 

 

Although the religious institutions have little or no association with power, the distrust they arouse among citizens is, in contrast, very marked in all 42 democracies: almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents  say they  do not trust the religious authorities. Those who claim to be atheist state unanimously (92%) that they do  not trust them, as do agnostics (76%). Among monotheistic believers, Muslims (52%) express the greatest  mistrust of religious authorities, followed by Christians (45%) and Jews (41%). Across  the 42 democracies, trust in the religious authorities is a majority opinion in just six countries: Malta (61%), the United States (60%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (58%), North Macedonia (56%), Cyprus (54%), and Albania (53%).

Trust in religious authorities

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While mistrust does not affect tolerance, Islam causes concern

 

Tolerance towards religion is notable. A large majority of respondents state that “religious opinions that are different” from their own do not bother them (78%). We note, however, that in six democracies, over a third of respondents consider themselves to be bothered by “different religious opinions”: this is the case among New Zealanders (33%), Bulgarians (34%), Danes (35%), Israelis (35%), the Japanese (35%) and Swedes (40%).

Democratic societies remain tolerant of religion and religious diversity. The intolerance expressed by those who say they react negatively when they learn that a person is Jewish or Shinto (7%), Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox (6%) or Buddhist (5%) is, on the whole, very much a minority position. For these religions, it can even be argued that indifference prevails. On the other hand, a quarter of respondents (26%) say they have a negative reaction when they learn that a person is Muslim, with significant differences depending on the country. In fourteen countries, over a third of respondents reported that they have a negative reaction towards Muslims, a position held specifically by the Czechs (63%), Slovaks (49%), Finns (45%), Poles (43%), Austrians (42%), Belgians (39%), Estonians (39%), Latvians (38%), Swiss (37%), Israelis (35%), Danes and Australians (34%), Germans and Norwegians (33%). This negative image of the Muslim religion in the democratic world is confirmed by the concern that Islam arouses among citizens: across all the democracies studied, a large majority of those surveyed (60%) say they are concerned about Islam. This concern is even more pronounced in Europe: around two-thirds (68%) of Europeans express concern about Islam, an increase of 11 points compared to our 2017 survey (57%).

6

Tolerance, condition of a free society of free society: religious opinions, sexual orientations, political opinions, ethnicity

Katherine Hamilton 

On average, of the 42 democracies surveyed, respondents are largely tolerant. It is in regard to those with “different political opinions” that respondents are the most intransigent, with 27%declaring that they bother them. By comparison, 23% of respondents claim being bothered by people with “different sexual orientations”, 22% are bothered by people with “different religious opinions”, and lastly, less than one-fifth (16%) of interviewees claim to be bothered by people of a “different ethnicity” than their own.

Do those differences bother you?

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Total responses: “yes, very” and “yes, somewhat”

Notes

1.

The following countries fall into this category: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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2.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

+ -

Regarding respondents’ tolerance towards those with differing political opinions, the most intolerant populations are Israel (35%), Austria (36%), Sweden (36%), Japan (36%), and Ukraine (38%). Correspondingly, the majority of these democracies have recently experienced a surge in right-wing populism that could illustrate this phenomenon of polarization. In Germany, the far-right party (Alternative for Germany) entered the German parliament in September 2017 for the first time and is now the main opposition in the Bundestag. In Austria, in October 2017, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the ÖVP (Austrian People’s Party) won the legislative elections before forming a coalition with the country’s far-right FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria). One year later, in November 2018, Sweden had great difficulty forming a government in an active effort to avoid entering a coalition with the right-wing Sweden Democrats before finding the solution in a government based on a broad coalition, the failure of which would become particularly perilous.

In the European Union, 20% of respondents claim to be bothered by those with “different sexual orientations” than their own, though divergent opinions separate Europe in two. On the one hand, the former Western Europe1 appears more tolerant: on average, 16% of respondents from Western Europe declare to be bothered by people with different sexual orientations. Within this group, the Spanish (12%), Dutch (13%), and Swedes (14%) are the most tolerant in this regard. However, in former communist Member States2, the proportion of those who claim to be bothered by people with a different sexual orientation rises to nearly one-third of respondents (31%). Indeed, we find significantly high percentages of citizens bothered by those of a different sexual orientation in Poland (30%), Hungary (31%), Slovakia (34%), Romania (37%), Estonia (37%), Latvia (40%), Lithuania (43%), and Bulgaria (43%). These figures remain significant in the Balkan states such as Serbia (33%), Albania (37%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (44%), and North Macedonia (46%). Lastly, this is not an exclusively European issue: other high percentages of those bothered by people of a different sexual orientation are found in democracies such as Israel (28%), the US (28%), and Japan (29%).

Do those differences bother you?

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Total responses: “yes, very” and “yes, somewhat”

Of the surveyed populations, those most bothered by people with differing religious opinions are NewZealanders (33%), Bulgarians (34%), Danes (35%), Israelis (35%), the Japanese (35%), and Swedes (40%). The Swedish case is notable: 44% of those who are 60 years old and over are bothered by those with “different religious opinions”, representing a stark 13-point contrast with those who are 35 yearsold and younger (31%). Interestingly, this number also greatly increases among senior executives (52%) and skilled workers (49%) and also for those on the right end of the political spectrum (49%) versus those on the left (28%). Markedly, of the Swedes bothered by those with different religious opinions, 55%also view globalization as a threat and believe their standard of living has gotten worse over the years(47%).

Considering respondents most bothered by people of a “different ethnicity” than their own, Bulgariansrank the highest (35%) while Croatia (7%), Serbia (7%), and Brazil (4%) rank the lowest.

7

From social inequalities to social polarization : what globalization does to democracies

Aminata Kone 

 

Many choices concerning the political organization of a society are based on issues related to thedistribution of wealth and power. What is considered fair and how can injustices be remedied when they are identified? How resources, benefits, and opportunities are shared affects people’s perception of their standard of living, their place in society and their faith in the future, as well as their support for the political system. Our survey sheds light on the perception of disparities and the profile of those who see themselves as losers or winners in the global system.

First, we note that while almost half of respondents (46%) consider their standard of living to have remained stable in recent years, the other half (54%) is made up of two highly distinct groups: those who believe their standard of living has improved (28%) and those who believe it has deteriorated (26%). While there is no noticeable difference in perception depending on gender, there are differences according to the age and profession of the person interviewed. Thus, those under 35 are the most satisfied with the evolution of their standard of living: 42% believe it has improved, compared to 25% in the 35-59 age group and 17% in the 60-and-over age group.

Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?

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The 18-34 age group corresponds to the start of working life and initial professional development, so it is therefore understandable that some individuals in this age group may feel that their standard of living is improving. However, this generational difference is accompanied by marked differences acrossprofessional and socio-professional categories: half (49%) of senior executives feel that their standard ofliving has improved, whereas only 27% of skilled workers and 17% of retirees share this point of view.

This distribution of perceptions concerning the evolution of the standard of living in recent years is reflected in the split between those who look to the future with pessimism and those who look at it with optimism. Although the figure remains high, there are fewer young people (37%) who think that their country will be worse tomorrow; the proportion of pessimistic expectations rises to 45% among 35-59year-olds and 46% among those aged 60 and over.

What do you think your country will be like tomorrow?

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Furthermore, there is a relationship between opinion on the evolution of living standards and the expression of optimistic expectations for the next few years. As such, 40% of those who believe that tomorrow their country will be “not as good as it is now” also believe that their standard of living has gotten worse, while half (51%) of those who believe that tomorrow their country will “be better than it is now”, in contrast, believe that their standard of living has improved. There are also differences when it comes to judging how well democracy works.

Would you say that democracy in your country works…

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The nature of perceptions of globalization must be taken into account to understand respondents’ different levels of satisfaction regarding their personal situation. Thus, among those who see globalization as “a threat”, nearly one-third (31%) believe that their standard of living has deteriorated, six out of ten (60%) feel that their lifestyle is threatened and half (49%) think that their country will be worse tomorrow than it is today. Among the other group, those who see globalization as “anopportunity”, nearly one-quarter (24%) consider that their standard of living has deteriorated, half (49%) think that their lifestyle is threatened and 40% believe that tomorrow their country will be “notas good as it is now”.

Among those who are satisfied with their current living conditions and optimistic about the future, there is an over-representation of men, young people under 35, intellectual professionals and senior executives. At the other extreme, those who feel that their standard of living has fallen and who view the future with pessimism are most often women, people aged between 35 and 59, retirees and people who are not working (unemployed, students, home-makers).

Here we see a divide that has often been mentioned in public debate over the past few years: globalization is said to be dividing democratic societies into two camps, separating, on the one hand, an elite capable of taking full advantage of the fruits of liberal democracy and economic and cultural globalization and, on the other, a large number of people left behind, who are gradually losing all hope of social mobility and feel themselves to be devoid of any effective political capacity.

8

Who holds the power ?

Thibault Muzergues

Notes

1.

A “total” section offered in the survey represents the percentage of respondents who mentioned each of these entities, whether in first, second or third place, within the list of the three entities believed to hold power.

+ -

In theory, liberal democracies have solved the question of who holds the power: sovereignty belongs to the people, but power is exercised by representatives elected through universal suffrage. In representative democracies, the people delegate power to representatives who govern on their behalf. By asking the question “Who holds power in your country?”, we wanted to compare the way citizens perceive the exercise of power with the theory of democracy.

To the question “Which of the following categories holds the most power in your country?”, respondents were asked to answer by ranking (“firstly”, “secondly”, and “thirdly”) three of twelve listed entities. In the analysis of the results, we have used the “firstly” answers1.

Which of the following categories firstly holds the most power in your country?

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* Option proposed in parliamentary monarchies only.

Powers against the power to govern ?

The data collected show that in democratic societies, those who govern are not necessarily cited first among those in power. Overall, in the 42 democracies studied, few respondents cite politicians (30%), elected representatives (12%) and the people (6%) as the holders of power. In contrast, the idea that democratic power is influenced by money is often present. The rich people (18%), large companies (11%) and financial markets (7%) are mentioned first, i.e. three admittedly traditional figures of power to whom globalization seems to be conferring new power and visibility.

We note a generational effect in public perceptions of who holds power: 18-34 year-olds tend to identify the media as holders of power in their country more often (8%) than those aged 60 and over (4%). Conversely, elected representatives are mentioned less readily as the first holders of power by 18-34 year-olds (9%) than by those aged 60 and over (15%).

Are the people sovereign ?

As such, in the democratic societies studied, the categories perceived as holding the most power are neither the people nor elected representatives. Switzerland is of course the famous exception to this general view of power in democracy: the top three entities perceived by our survey respondents in this country as having the most power are the people (25%), politicians (21%) and elected representatives (18%). Beyond such specific cases, less than half of all respondents in the 42 democracies of the survey place power where it claims to be (the people, elected representatives, and politicians): the identification of one of these entities as “firstly” holding the most power accounts only for 48% of the responses, when we add up the answers that rank elected representatives, the people or politicians first. This means that, for more than half of the respondents (52%), the entities holding the most powerin their country are not a direct or indirect extension of democratic mechanisms. If faith in the functioning of democratic systems is linked to the possibility for citizens to be represented through their ability to control the exercise of power, the results of our survey support the theory of a latent but deep crisis of adherence to democratic conventions.

Where elected representatives are ranked “first” as holding the most power in the country, this gives an indication of the strength of the democratic convention in a given country: this is the case in Luxembourg, where elected representatives are ranked “first” by 28% of respondents, compared to an overall average of 12%; this is also the case for Norway (29%), Denmark (22%), the Netherlands (21%) and Sweden (20%). We note that, at the same time, these are countries where the most citizens say they satisfied with the functioning of their democratic system: most Swiss (88%), Luxembourgers and Norwegians (86%), Danes (83%) and, to a lesser extent, Swedes (76%) and Dutch (69%) believe that democracy works well in their country, compared to an average of 51% for all 42 democracies.

Furthermore, we note that political affiliation plays an important role when it comes to identifying who holds power. Citizens on the right more readily state that politicians, the people and the media are“first” when it comes to power. On the left, more respondents put rich people, large companies and the financial markets in first place.

Which of the following categories firstly holds the most power in your country?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019 

* Option proposed in parliamentary monarchies only.

Most survey participants believe that power is concentrated in the hands of social groups outside the mechanisms of representative government. As such, the idea that power is not in the hands of the people, nor in the hands of their representatives is gaining ground in public opinion in democratic countries. With the exception of a few countries, the democratic nature of the political system therefore appears to be in dispute.

9

Trust in digital giants… with the exception of Facebook

Paul-Adrien Hyppolite and Antoine Michon 

Our survey provides a wealth of information on how the democratic world perceives new technologies and leading digital companies such as the famous big tech companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft). Firstly, global trends emerge from the results. We observe that there is, on the one hand, widespread support for technological progress and the benefits of the Internet. On the other hand, with the exception of Facebook, there is a great deal of trust in the American digital giants which is especially notable given that public opinion also expresses significantly lower trust in large companies (41%) compared to small and medium-sized businesses (78%). It is as though big tech companies are not perceived as “large companies” by the public.

Trust in big tech companies

Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

The distrust expressed specifically towards Facebook is likely to be interpreted in the light of the debate over the security of data shared on social media and the various accusations concerning the role that the company is alleged to have played in the distribution of fake news. This is of course related to the Cambridge Analytica case, but we must not forget the serious accusations hanging over the Menlo Park firm in the spread of hate speech and repression in Myanmar (Rohingya crisis), Sri Lanka (anti-Muslim riots) and the Philippines (President Duterte’s “war on drugs”).

The Internet and social media are also considered very favorably, be it because they “offer people the possibility to get informed by themselves” (84%), because “they help you meet new people” (75%), or because “they help people to express themselves more freely” (74%). That being said, respondents are aware of the dangers associated with these new information and communication technologies: 72% of respondents recognize the risk of spreading fake news and 67% are worried about excessive interference from third parties in their private life. Only one of the mentioned risks was widely rejected: that of the Internet only putting people in contact that share the same opinions – two-thirds (66%) of respondents disagree with the potential negativity of this bubble effect, the existence of which is now attested by studies on public digital space.

A pronounced opposition between prone anti-technology countries

While respondents are generally attached to new technologies and digital giants, there are significant differences across countries. There are thus very clearly pro-tech societies, such as Brazil across the Atlantic or the Baltic States and Croatia on the European continent. In these countries, the respondents are more likely to believe in the overall positive impact of technological discoveries, be it for employment and liberties or for global health and social relationships: having calculated the average of the results for these different reasons, we observe that 72% of Croatians, 78% of Brazilians and 79% of Lithuanians, and a global average of 63% in the 42 countries surveyed view these advancements positively. A large majority of respondents in these countries also believe that the Internet and social media have a positive impact on social relationships (Brazil, 92%; Lithuania, 90%; Croatia, 89%; versus a global average of 75% for the 42 democracies). These same countries’ level of trust in big tech companies is more pronounced.

Among the anti-tech populations, the main powers of Western Europe stand out: the French, Germans, British, Belgians and Dutch. It should be noted that as a regional group, the European Union alsoappears anti-tech. Citizens in these countries are less likely to trust big tech companies, as seen in the United Kingdom (63%), France (52%), or Germany (48%). On average, citizens of the European Union trust these large companies less (59%) than the global average of respondents in the 42 countries (67%).

Beyond the pro-tech/anti-tech antinomy, we note that the citizens of a number of countries are distinguished by a more ambiguous relationship with technology. For example, in certain Anglo-Saxon countries, public opinion combines trust in big tech companies with a relative mistrust of scientific and technological discoveries.

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

* Average of the total responses “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust” to the question “For each of the following companies, indicate whether you entirely trust them, somewhat trust them, distrust them or entirely distrust them” for the five companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft).

** Average of “positive” responses to the question “Generally speaking, would you say that scientific and technological discoveries are positive, negative, neither positive nor negative” for the four response options (For liberties, for employment, for global health, for social relationships).

There are various reasons for this: a form of economic patriotism in the United States, a strategic proximity to the American neighbor in Canada, or the feeling of benefiting greatly from the development of these tech giants through the setup of offices, data centers, research centers or, in Ireland, call centers. These disparities can also signify that big tech companies are credited with virtues that go beyond their actual scientific and technological contributions as companies.

Conversely, the Scandinavian countries show some optimism about technological progress but are waryof the growing power of big tech companies. This data shows the high degree of trust that characterizes Scandinavian societies, coupled with an awareness of the worrying supremacy of American companies in this key area of their daily lives.

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

 * Average of the total responses “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust” to the question “For each of the following companies,please tell me if you entirely trust them, somewhat trust them, distrust them or entirely distrust them” for the five companies(Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft).

** Average of “positive” responses to the question “Generally speaking, would you say that scientific and technological discoveries are positive, negative, neither positive nor negative” for the four response options (For liberties, for employment,for global health, for social relationships).

10

Scientific and technological innovations are seen as sources of progress

Madeleine Hamel

In today’s times, it is difficult to ignore the now ostentatious advances taking place in technological and scientific fields, as evidenced by the remarkable images widely shared both by the media and on social media. Progress in genetic research has recently reached a critical point: the CRISPR-Cas9 genomic editing tool has enabled the creation of the first viable genetically engineered human embryos, artificial lungs have been successfully transplanted to pigs, and Chinese progress in this field culminated in early 2018 with the birth of two cloned monkeys, more than twenty years after Dolly the sheep. The recent technoscientific news has been marked, among other things, by the first developments of autonomous vehicles, the rise of 3D printing, artificial intelligence and robotic sophistication, as well as the revival of the Space Race with the missions of private companies such as Elon Musk’s Space X and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and the Chinese accomplishing the first lunar landing on the far side of the Moon.
These advances are profoundly changing the course of human societies to extents which remain very uncertain. Due to these factors, this year our survey sought to measure public opinion of citizens in 42 democratic countries towards scientific and technological advances. They were asked to rate their impact (“positive”, “neither positive nor negative” or “negative”) in four areas: liberties, employment, health and social relationships.

Would you say that scientific and technological discoveries are positive, negative, neither positive nor negative…

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Our data concludes that the democratic world looks favorably upon technoscientific advances: when citizens express an opinion, it is an optimistic one. This is particularly the case in the domain of global health, since more than three quarters (79%) of respondents consider their impact in this field as positive. More than six out of ten people (63%) believe that scientific and technological discoveries have a beneficial effect on employment, and this figure slightly decreases when it comes to liberties (57%). However, only a slight majority (53%) report perceiving a positive influence of these advances on social relationships.

Would you say that scientific and technological discoveries are positive, negative, neither positive nor negative…

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

1.

Data obtained from the calculation of the average of the deviations, for each area (liberties, employment, global health and social relationships) between those who consider the technoscientific advances positively and who think that belonging to the European Union is a good thing and those who value technoscientific advances positively and think that belonging to the European Union is a bad thing. Calculation made for the group of European Union countries and then for the group of candidate countries.

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American and European public opinion converges regarding the importance of these discoveries, though Europeans (18%) are marginally more worried than Americans (12%) about the impact of technological and scientific discoveries on employment. This difference could be the result of the ongoing debate at the European level on the regulation of artificial intelligence and robotics that put into perspective the negative repercussions these technologies are often suspected of having on the labor market (transformation, replacement or disappearance of certain jobs).
Our study’s results go against two common preconceptions. First, religion does not seem to play an important role in terms of opinions on scientific and technological discoveries. Deviations from the average do not vary significantly between religious believers, atheists and agnostics. However, among believers, Muslims are often the most negative for each of the four categories (difference of 1 to 5 points compared to other faiths). Secondly, age is not a determinant of opinions on technoscientific progress either. Indeed, there are also few differences between age groups, though a slight tendency exists wherein the younger generation (18-34 years-old, 19%) perceives these advances as detrimental to social relationships compared to respondents aged 60 years old and older (14%).
On the other hand, these opinions are fully in line with traditional divisions, particularly between big cities and small and medium-sized cities. Therefore, in terms of liberty, inhabitants of metropolitan areas are more likely to perceive the impacts of technical and scientific advances positively than residents of smaller cities (62% versus 52%); the same is true for employment (67% versus 59%) and social relationships (58% versus 48%). This gap narrows when it comes to assessing the impact on health, with a difference of only 5 points, but major cities remain more optimistic (81% versus 76%).
The respondents with most faith in the benefits of scientific and technological discoveries are notably those who come from higher social classes, those who see globalization as an opportunity, who say they are optimistic about the future and who are interested in politics. On the other hand, respondents who regard globalization as a threat hold a more negative view of technoscientific advances than those who perceive it as an opportunity, whether in regards to global health (12% versus 4%), employment (20% versus 10%), social relationships (24% versus 12%) or liberties (17% versus 8%).
Respondents’ degree of open-mindedness or degree of involvement in the world is clearly associated with their perception of scientific and technical progress, with respondents who are more comfortable with globalization and more involved in its roll-out being the most optimistic about the effects of scientific progress. Thus, whether for Member States or for those applying for entry into the European Union, respondents for which the European Union’s membership is a good thing have more of a tendency to express faith in the positive effects of scientific discoveries, with differences of 14 points on average compared to those who feel negatively about their country’s membership of the European Union (68% versus 54%), and 11 points compared to those who view the prospect of becoming a member of the European Union negatively (69% versus 58%)1.

11

A fundamental part of the national economy or symbol of globalized capitalism: the size of companies shapes collective perceptions

Guillemette Lano

Notes

1.

The following countries fall into this category: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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The phenomenon of globalization has continually accentuated the size of the gap between very small or small and medium-sized enterprises (VSEs and SMEs) on the one hand and large enterprises or big businesses on the other. However, as our survey reveals, respondents’ trust in companies is dependent on their size. Of the 42 democracies studied, a very large majority (78%) of respondents say they trust SMEs, compared to less than half (41%) for large companies.
In English-speaking countries1, trust in small and medium-sized enterprises (93%) is significantly higher than overall trust in them (78%), as is the level of trust in large enterprises (46% versus 41%). It is therefore societies with liberal economies that place the most trust in companies, and, at least for the time being, the liberal organization of the economy combined with globalization is reflected in public opinion by record levels of trust in companies.

Trust in businesses inside the Anglosphere
Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

In the European Union, although trust in companies is lower on average than across all 42 democracies, the differences in trust between SMEs and large companies is even more pronounced: more than two-thirds (69%) of Europeans say they trust SMEs, but only one-third (34%) trust large companies. Opinions vary among the Member States: trust in SMEs is widespread in France (86%) and Germany (80%). On the other hand, when it comes to large companies, trust is a minority position for both the French (33%) and the Germans (23%). On the contrary, Scandinavians stand out for the trust they place in big business, whether among the Finns and Swedes (49%), Danes (58%) or Norwegians (59%). It should also be noted that in Denmark, large companies enjoy more widespread trust (58%) than SMEs (44%). In southern Europe, small and medium-sized enterprises suffer from low public trust, in Spain (65%), Greece (63%), Portugal (51%) and Italy (46%). These results show the likely effects of the considerable economic difficulties experienced in recent years.
The relationship with globalization is linked to the trust placed in big companies. The level of trust varies by 7 points between those who see globalization as an opportunity (43%) and those who see it as a threat (36%). Political positioning and social category are also decisive regarding respondents’ opinion of large companies.

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Gender, age or the size of the community in which the respondents live do not seem to influence the level of trust in large companies. On the other hand, our survey shows that small-business owner are the ones who place the least trust in large companies, with only 35% of them trusting the latter compared to 60% of senior executives.

Trust in companies, depending on the occupation
Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

A low level of trust in large companies goes hand-in-hand with the expression of a criticism of the functioning of democracy: half (50%) of those who believe that democracy works well in their country trust large companies; this proportion falls to less than a third (31%) among those who, on the contrary, feel that democracy works poorly in their country.
Similarly, those who believe their lifestyle is threatened show a higher level of mistrust in large companies (64%) than those polled who believe their lifestyle is not threatened (54%). Big companies are one of the obvious expressions of globalization. Respondents’ opinion of them varies depending on their opinion of globalization.
According to our survey, large companies are also strongly associated with power: to the question “Who holds power in your country?”, 41% of respondents cited “large companies” among the three most powerful categories in their countries. Lastly, among those who believe that corporate freedom should be strengthened and the role of government limited, almost half (45%) trust large companies, while this rate is just 35% among those who wish the government to play an increased role.

12

Standard of living and lifestyle : the twofold heritage crisis

Dominique Reynié

The transformations experienced by democracies have often been described and analyzed in light of changes to individuals’ standards of living. It is certain that the increasing wealth of democratic societies has played a key role in the establishment and strengthening of this political system based on citizens’ consent. Conversely, the political crises that democracies have faced often resulted, to a large extent, from a decline in the standard of living or even from its collapse, as in the 1930s, following the terrible economic and financial crisis of 1929. A materialistic approach to democratic societies and their evolution remains relevant today. In terms of opinion, we must always consider the question of the standard of living, meaning actual or perceived changes to the material heritage around which part of social existence is organized. However, we cannot understand the unrest in the democratic world in general, and in the European democracies in particular, without also taking into account the issue of lifestyle, which allows us to analyze the perceived evolution of intangible heritage, that is the assessment of the cultural and symbolic dimension which has such a strong influence on the living conditions of individuals and, even more significantly, on the ways in which they reflect on their changes.

The people surveyed feel their standard of living has been maintained

We first asked people: “Generally speaking, do you feel that your standard of living has gotten better orworse over the past few years?”. Three response options were offered: “it has gotten better”, “it hasremained the same” and “it has gotten worse”.

Generally speaking, do you feel that your standard of living has gotten better or worse over the past few years?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

1.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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Overall, democratic societies’ assessments of their standard of living reveals that between a quarter and a third of individuals feel that their situation has deteriorated, with few variations when looking at the data for the European Union. Although not insignificant, these proportions appear less dramatic when we consider that the people surveyed who feel that their standard of living has remained the same or improved includes a total of 74% of respondents across the entire democratic world studied and 71% across the democracies forming the European Union. This is even more the case in the 11 former members of the Soviet bloc that are now members of the EU1, where the proportion of respondents who found their standard of living improved is the highest (32%), with 42% feeling that it has remained the same and 26% that it has deteriorated.
The largest proportion of respondents who believe that their standard of living has improved in recent years is found among Luxembourgers and Latvians (34%), Romanians and Czechs (35%), New Zealanders (36%), Poles (37%), Israelis (39%), Americans (40%) and Maltese, who are ahead by a mile (53%). The largest proportion of respondents who believe that their standard of living has deteriorated is found in Albania (38%), Cyprus (43%), France (45%), Bulgaria (46%), Serbia (51%), Greece (59%), and Ukraine (60%).
While changes in the standard of living remains one of the key factors in understanding the situation and evolution of democratic regimes, it is clear that the prevailing perception is that of a maintained or improved standard of living or material heritage. If we want to better understand the crisis in the democratic world, or even try to clarify its causes, we cannot therefore limit ourselves to measuring perceptions of the material aspects of heritage. This approach must be complemented by a study of the perceptions of its intangible dimension. The results which emerge when doing so are quite different.

The majority of respondents feel their lifestyle is at risk 

To identify the intangible dimension of heritage, we asked a question about lifestyle, phrased as follows: “Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?” Based on traditional methods utilized in opinion surveys, a range of responses was offered: “very threatened”, “threatened”, “not very threatened” and “not at all threatened”.
In our survey, a majority (53%) of respondents feel that their lifestyle is “threatened”. This concern is dominant in 22 of the 42 countries studied. Almost all of them are European and most of them belong to the former communist bloc, with some notable exceptions: Czech Republic (51%), Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina (52%), Slovenia (54%), Spain (55%), Romania (57%), Italy and Albania (58%), Slovakia (59%), Bulgaria (60%), Serbia (61%), Hungary (62%), Cyprus and Belgium (66%), France (69%), Croatia (70%), Greece (86%); bordering Europe, the United Kingdom (53%) and Ukraine (70%); outside Europe, the United States (51%), Israel (56%) and Brazil (63%).
Analyzing the results at an individual level appears to reveal that the degree of interest in politics plays a role. For example, the feeling that their lifestyle is under threat is much more widespread among those who respond that they take an interest in politics (56%) and, even more so, among those who believe that they are “very” interested (61%), which contrasts with the group of those who say they are not interested, where the feeling of having a threatened lifestyle is less widespread (49%). This link suggests that this concern is part of a politicized attitude of protest. As such, the perception that there is a threat to the way people live in their country is strongly associated with critical attitudes toward democracy. This is an opinion which reflects a feeling of protest, as there is not only an expression of dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy, which can reflect a democratic perspective, but also a possible questioning of this political system. One cannot fail to note that the differences in opinion are increasingly marked in European democracies, where the feeling that there is a threat to the way people live is more widespread than across the whole of the democratic world studied.

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

* Total responses “very threatened” and “threatened” to the question “Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?”
** Total responses “not at all threatened” and “not very threatened” to the question “Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?”
Note for the reader: In the overall sample, 41% of those who believe that democracy works well in their country claim that their lifestyle is threatened.

The feeling that the way people live in their country is under threat is strongly associated with a negative perception of globalization. In terms of the overall figures, it is thus much more widespread among those who see globalization as a threat (60%) than among those who see it as an opportunity (49%).

Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?

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© Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Note for the reader: In the democratic world studied, 49% of respondents who consider globalization as an opportunity consider that their lifestyle is under threat.

In fact, the items in the questionnaire that lend themselves to this hypothesis show that the fear of seeing one’s lifestyle altered is significantly more associated with the expression of a kind of isolation and retreat, especially in the European Union: 48% of European respondents who believe that there is a duty to welcome refugees say they are worried about their lifestyle, while this proportion rises to 62% for those who reject the existence of such a duty. Generally speaking, for all the issues that aim to assess the degree of tolerance towards expressions of diversity, in terms of political opinions, religion, sexual orientation and ethnic origin, it is among those who believe that the way in which people live in their country is at risk that the proportion of people who consider themselves to be bothered by at least one of these forms of diversity is the highest. Similarly, it is among this group that attitudes toward the European Union are the most critical.

Your country’s membership / potential accession in the European Union is…

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

* Total responses “very threatened” and “threatened” to the question “Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?”
** Total responses “not very threatened” and “not at all threatened” to the question “Would you say that your lifestyle or the way of life in your country is now threatened?”
Note for the reader: Of those who believe that their lifestyle is threatened, 39% consider it a good thing to be part of the European Union, compared to 61% who believe that their lifestyle is not threatened.

In terms of heritage, the democratic world is facing a dual challenge concerning living standards or material heritage on the one hand, and way of life or intangible heritage on the other. But both perceptions are intertwined, of course, and a large proportion of those who believe that their way of life is at risk also believe that their standard of living has deteriorated (38%), while this proportion is barely 13% among those who do not fear for their lifestyle.

III Section

Order and freedoms

1

Not everyone takes freedom of expression for granted

Loraine Amic and Madeleine Hamel

On average, across the 42 countries in our survey, two-thirds (68%) of respondents answered “yes” to the question of whether they generally feel they can express themselves freely in today’s society. We could certainly celebrate such an outcome, but only if we set aside this other observation: almost one-third (32%) of the people surveyed in the democratic world therefore feel they cannot express themselves freely. Furthermore, of all respondents, only 20% say they feel that they can express themselves “entirely” freely, with less than half (48%) believing that they can express themselves “mostly” freely. The perception of freedom of expression in the democratic world is therefore mixed.

Generally speaking, in today’s society
do you feel that you are free to express yourself?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

An indicator of the health of democracy

Overall, Europeans feel less able to express themselves freely (63%) than the average of all citizens surveyed in the 42 democracies (68%). In Western Europe, there are significant differences between the democracies. An analysis of opinion in the Scandinavian countries, where the culture of freedom of expression and of the press is traditionally acknowledged, shows that a large majority of Danes (89%), Finns (81%) and Swedes (80%) feel free to express themselves. Outside the European Union, the Norwegians have the highest score (91%), followed by the Swiss (87%) and the British (77%). The same applies to more than three quarters of Luxembourgers (84%), Irish (82%) and Dutch (78%). In Austria, 71% of respondents feel free to express themselves, as do 69% of Germans. In contrast, in Spain (46%), France (41%) and Italy (40%), a significant proportion of respondents said they did not feel able to express themselves freely.
Among the populations of the former communist bloc that are now members of the European Union, the assessment of freedom of expression is generally negative, especially in the so-called “illiberal” democracies, where leaders are democratically elected but citizens may see certain fundamental rights eroded and threatened. In Hungary and Poland, the results are particularly striking: Hungary is the only country in our survey where a majority (57%) of citizens feel they cannot express themselves freely; to a lesser extent, 49% of Slovaks feel the same way. Many Croatians (46%), Poles (44%), Romanians (43%), Bulgarians and Slovenians (41%) feel they cannot express themselves freely. However, the situation is different in the Baltic States, where Estonians (78%), Lithuanians (66%) and Latvians (65%) more generally believe that they have freedom of expression.
Among the EU candidate countries, Albania stands out: most Albanians (81%) feel free to express themselves, which is 18 points above the EU average (63%). In contrast Serbia, where many protests by the population demand, among other things, more freedom for the press, stands out: half of the population (49%) says they do not feel that they can express themselves freely. It should be noted that a large minority (40%) of Ukrainians do not take freedom of expression as a given.
In the rest of the democratic world surveyed, more people feel they enjoy freedom of expression. This can be seen in Canada (85%), New Zealand (84%), the United States (81%), Australia (75%) and Israel (79%). The Japanese are clearly more reserved about the state of freedom of expression in their country (62%), while nearly half (47%) of Brazilians do not feel free to express themselves.

The internet and social media : factors promoting freedom of expression where it is under threat

In a globalized and connected world, the Internet and social media are perceived as areas of freedom ofexpression. According to our survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) agree that the Internetand social media “are good because they help people to express themselves more freely”. What is noteworthy is that it is in countries where populations do not feel free to express themselves that theseplatforms are most often perceived as factors promoting freedom of expression.

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Young people are less likely than their elders to feel that they are able to express themselves freely 
Across all the respondents from the 42 democracies, gaps predictably appear between socio-professional categories: senior executives and intellectual professionals more often have the sense of being able to express themselves freely (78%) than unskilled employees and workers (63%). Interest in politics also plays a key role: respondents who say they are not interested more often say they do not feel free to express themselves (38%) than those who say they are interested (28%).
Our study also reveals differences in perceptions of freedom of expression according to gender (70% of men feel free to express themselves, compared to 66% of women), but the most intriguing aspect is likely the fact that more people over 60 years-old feel they can express themselves freely compared to other age groups.

Generally speaking, in today’s society do you feel that you are free to express yourself?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

2

Unanimous support for the broad principles of democratic expression

Loraine Amic

The repertoire of modes of collective action, a concept defined by Charles Tilly in the late 1970s, refers to the variety of modes of action – legal and illegal – used by citizens in the context of collective mobilization in general, and social movements in particular. Citizens’ familiarity with and use of a variety of modes of collective action is an indicator of the health of a democratic system, and all the more so when the legal methods are more widely supported. To make collective action possible, individuals must believe in their ability to provoke a public response, or even a change, and be confident that not only do they have the freedom to express themselves or raise their voices, but also that those voices will be heard. Our survey was limited to the legal modes of collective action: “the ability to protest, march in the streets and dissent”, “the ability to take part in the decision-making process”, “the ability to vote for the candidate of your choosing” and “having the right to say what you think”.
In the 42 democracies studied, a very large majority of citizens are committed to the fundamental modes of collective action: 82% of the people surveyed believe that it is important, in order to ensure the proper functioning of democracy, to be able to protest, and almost all of them feel it is important to participate in the decision-making process (96%), to be able to vote for the candidate of their choice (97%) and to have the right to say what they think (98%).
From among this unanimity, which counts the “very important” and “rather important” responses, it may be useful to single out the citizens most strongly attached to these rights, that is to say those who consider the fact of being able to protest, participate in collective decision-making, vote and express themselves to be “very important”. Within the European Union, on average, two-thirds (66%) of respondents deem each of these four aspects describing these modes of collective action to be “very important”; the average level across the 42 countries surveyed is almost identical (65%).

Importance placed in the main principles of democratic expression
Average of responses which deem the following abilities “very important”: “to protest, march in the streets and dissent” + “to take part in the decision-making process” + “to vote for the candidate of your choosing”
+ “having the right to say what you think”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

1.

Respondents had to position themselves on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 representing the far left and 10 the far right. Here we took the figure of 4 to represent the center left and the figure of 6 to represent the center right.

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Of particular interest is the fact that most of the post-communist countries are among the democracies with the highest averages. As such, 79% of Croatians, 73% of Romanians, 68% of Poles and Hungarians and 67% of Estonians and Lithuanians said the four methods of action chosen in our survey were “very important”. Although slightly behind the other two countries, the Czechs and Latvians responses (61% and 65%) remained in line with the European average (66%). On the other hand, it is no less important to point out in the opposite direction the populations with lower proportions of respondents judging these methods to be “very important” compared to the European average, such as the Belgians (62%), the Italians (61%), the Maltese and the Finns (58%).
In the English-speaking countries involved in this survey, strong support for modes of collective action, although still present among the majority, is lower than the overall level, as illustrated by Canada (62%), the UK (60%), New Zealand (57%) and Australia (55%). Only in Japan do a minority consider the four modes listed to be “very important” (48%, or 17 points below the overall average). Similarly, a significant proportion of Japanese people (13%) feel that it is “not at all important” to be able to demonstrate on the streets, i.e. triple the overall average (4%), by far the highest score. On the other hand, the survey shows that Ukrainians (73%), Serbs (72%), Israelis (71%), and Brazilians (69%) are more likely than average to consider modes of collective action “very important”.
Beyond comparing different democracies, the importance attributed to collective action and its modes varies depending on several criteria. As such, there is obviously a link between interest in politics and the importance attributed to means of collective action. Those who declare an interest in politics are more likely than those who are not interested in it to choose the “very important” option when discussing the value of modes of collective action (70% versus 57%). However, this relationship is not true in all democracies: thus, while Croatians have the highest percentage of “very important” responses (79%), only a third (36%) say they are interested in politics.
The role of politicization is reflected in the influence of political orientation on the importance given to modes of collective action. These methods are thus more often deemed “very important” among respondents who position themselves on the left (73%) than among those on the right (63%). In addition, the closer the respondents are to the ends of the left-right scale, the more often they consider voting, protesting, participating in decision-making and expressing themselves freely “very important”: 78% on the far left and 65% on the center left; 70% on the far right and 60% on the center right1. It should be noted that the attachment to the right to protest in the streets is much greater among the far left (71%) than the far right (49%), underlining the ongoing nature of the profound differences between these two political cultures.
Lastly, senior executives and the intellectual professions are more inclined (67%) to deem it “very important” to be able to vote, demonstrate, express themselves and take part in collective decision-making than unskilled employees and workers (63%). Furthermore, it should be noted that those who describe their lifestyle as “very threatened” more often attach great importance (response: “very important”) to the modes of collective action (78%) than those who believe their lifestyle is “not at all threatened” (65%).

Importance placed in the main principles of democratic expression (continued)
Average of responses which deem the following abilities “very important”: “to protest, march in the streets and dissent” + “to take part in the decision-making process” + “to vote for the candidate of your choosing”
+ “having the right to say what you think”

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3

A majority of the democratic world is in favor of the death penalty

Victor Delage

Notes

1.

“To date, 108 states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 7 have abolished it for common crimes, and 29 have implemented a moratorium on executions, totaling 144 states. On the other hand, the death penalty is still applied in 55 states and territories” (France Diplomatie, « La peine de mort dans le monde », updated October 2018).

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While more than two-thirds of countries worldwide have abolished the death penalty either in law or in practice 1, 59% of respondents in our survey are in favor of it. This figure is all the more spectacular because, of the 42 democracies included in this study, only two countries, Japan and the United States, still apply the death penalty in common law. We note that the Japanese (79%) and the Americans (75%) are the most in favor of the death penalty.
Citizens of countries where the death sentence is only abolished for common law crimes are also notably in favor of the death penalty. This is the case for Israel (58%), which retains it for crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide and treason cases, and Brazil (57%), for wartime deserters. In the history of the State of Israel, the death sentence has been used twice, the best known being the hanging and cremation of Adolf Eichmann, high dignitary of the Nazi regime, responsible for the logistics of the “Final Solution”. Nevertheless, on November 4th 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the go-ahead for easing the legal framework of the death penalty and allowing for the execution of terrorists convicted of murder. On the other hand, the newly elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declared that the abolition of the death penalty was “an unchangeable clause of the Constitution” of 1988.
Described as a “top priority of the European Union’s human rights policy”, the death penalty is no longer practiced on its territory and is even one of the conditions of entry for candidate countries. However, although 57% of Europeans say they oppose it (59% in 2017), a majority of citizens in 11 of the 27 Member States favor the death penalty, and striking distinctions appear between the inhabitants of Western Europe and those from the East. In the Western part of the European Union, only Belgians (57%) say they support the death penalty. Another founding country comes close: one in two French people (50%) is in favor of the death penalty. If we add the British (52%), one wonders if there is not a connection with the fact that these three countries were, in the European Union, the most affected by terrorist attacks in recent years. The outrage provoked by these crimes may fuel vengeful rhetoric based on “exemplary punishment”.

Do you support or oppose the death penalty?
Total responses: “strongly support” and “support”

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Profile of people most in favor of the death penalty

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Do you support or oppose the death penalty? (continued)
Total responses: “strongly support” and “support”

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4

Abortion – between liberalization and moral resistance

Victor Delage

Notes

1.

See Nathalie Bajos and Michèle Ferrand, “L’avortement ici et ailleurs. Introduction”, Contemporary societies, n°. 61, January-March 2006, p. 5-18.

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The issue of abortion spans our societies and our era. Although, in recent decades, an increasing number of states have incorporated the right to abortion into their legislation, the same is not always true of society. The tolerance of opinion regarding this act varies considerably depending on the political, social and cultural contexts of different countries. For example, depending on their beliefs, respondents to our survey take more or less progressive or conservative positions on the issue of abortion, whereas monotheistic religions have posed abortion as a “moral dilemma”1.

Acceptance of abortion and religious orientations

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Notes

2.

See United Nations-Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Policies Database”.

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3.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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5.

See Agnès Guillaume and Clémentine Rossier, “L’avortement dans le monde. État des lieux des législations, mesures, tendances et conséquences”, Population, vol. 73, n°. 2, 2018, pp. 225-322.

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Generally, it is in developed and democratic countries, mainly in Europe and North America, that abortion laws are the most liberal2. To the question “Do you support or oppose abortion rights?”, more than two-thirds of the citizens (70%) of the 42 democracies studied responded that they supported it. Nevertheless, as we will see, there are still significant variations in national opinions. It should be remembered that, depending on the state, legislation may differ considerably, from one extreme to the other: in some countries, abortion is allowed without restriction, at the request of the woman in question; in others, any abortion is strictly prohibited and punishable by law. Between these two cases, a large number of countries allow abortion under certain conditions, which are often very restrictive, linked to the physical or mental health of women, malformation of the fetus, consequences of situations of rape or incest, economic and social reasons, etc.
In our survey, opposition to abortion was the most widespread among the Maltese (88%). Moreover, the island, of which over 90% of the population is Catholic, remains the only country in the European Union in which abortion is strictly prohibited: women who terminate their pregnancy voluntarily and their practitioner incur up to three years’ imprisonment. Hostility towards the right to abortion is also greater than the European Union average in Cyprus (66%) and, to a lesser extent, in Greece (33%), probably due to the importance of the Orthodox Church, which is opposed to its decriminalization.

In eastern Europe, opinion is generally favorable to abortion

In the post-communist countries that are now members of the European Union3, opinion is on average overwhelmingly (70%) in favor of abortion. In the face of the slow spread of modern contraception, which was not easily accessible for a long time in these countries, abortion has become, since the 1950s, a very common practice4. Now, in these countries, most respondents are in favor of the right to abortion, as our survey reveals among the Czechs (88%), Slovenes (87%), Estonians (86%), Hungarians (84%), Bulgarians and Croatians (81%), Lithuanians (77%), Slovaks (72%) and Latvians (70%). We should point out, however, that national law has not always evolved in the direction of increased access, as shown by the recent case of Poland: legal and free of charge in this country from 1956 to 1993, it is now restricted and only permitted in certain situations (major risk to health, malformations of the fetus, rape). In 2016, a bill from the conservative Polish government of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) even attempted to ban it outright, which Parliament ultimately rejected, following major protests. It is clear that the role and power of the Catholic Church in countries such as Poland or Romania remains very significant and partly explains the fact that 40% of Poles and 37% of Romanians remain opposed to abortion. This is even more the case in the east, where 74% of Albanians, 53% of Macedonians, 50% of Bosnians and 31% of Serbs are against it, although it is legal in these countries.

In Western Europe, a majority of countries are strongly in favor of abortion: France and Sweden (94%),Denmark (92%), Finland (89%), Belgium (88%), Luxembourg (86%), Germany and the Netherlands (85%), and Austria (83%). While the revision of abortion laws began for most of these countries in the 1970s-1980s5, others have joined them in recent years in making their legislation more permissive. Ireland, long considered one of the most restrictive countries on this issue, is the latest case of abortion liberalization in Europe, following the May 25th 2018 referendum, when two-thirds (66.4%) of Irish voters voted to repeal the eighth amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the act. In ourstudy, while the percentage of Irish people in favor of the right to abortion is 9 points lower than the European Union average (81%), the figure nevertheless remains high (72%).

Do you support or oppose abortion rights?

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Do you support or oppose abortion rights?
Total responses: “strongly oppose” and “oppose”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

6.

See Council of Europe, Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe, December 2017, p. 38.

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Support for abortion encounters strong opposition in Brazil and the United States

Nevertheless, the continued existence of the right to abortion no longer appears to be guaranteed in some Western European countries. In Portugal, while 29% of citizens surveyed responded that they are opposed to abortion, the government amended the law in 2015, which now makes women responsible for all costs related to terminating their pregnancy. In Italy, the practice may be limited since doctors have the option to use the “conscience clause” which exempts them from engaging in acts that may go against their ethical, moral and religious principles. According to a report by the Council of Europe, “it appears that the percentage of doctors refusing to offer abortions amounts to approximately 70% in this country6“. It should be noted, however, that eight out of ten Italians (79%) state that they support the right to abortion.
In the other democracies studied outside Europe’s borders, Canadians (82%), Australians (81%), the Japanese (79%) and, to a lesser extent, New Zealanders (73%) and Israelis (72%) are mostly in favor of the right to abortion at rates above the democratic average (70%), unlike Americans and Brazilians, where one-third (32%) and two-thirds (65%) of the population are against abortion, respectively. In the United States, while abortion has been a constitutional right since the Roe vs. Wade ruling (1973), each state retains autonomy on this issue. Since 2017, several states have adopted numerous restrictions on the access to abortion, both through specific regulations applied to the medical institutions that perform abortions and through requiring the presence of a parent in the event of an abortion performed on a minor. Lastly, in Brazil, the subject of abortion has become even more sensitive due to the strong growth of evangelical Christianity.

5

According to public opinion, the role of the state in the economy should be limited and the freedom of business increased

Erwan Le Noan

Notes

1.

To better understand the mechanisms of the so-called subprime crisis and the role of state intervention in this crisis, see Raghuram Rajan, Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, Princeton University Press, 2010.

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The year 2018 was marked by the tenth anniversary of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Bank, an event considered to be the highlight of the outbreak of an economic crisis that shook the world. The decade that followed has fueled numerous debates about the real or imagined responsibility for what is referred to as “economic liberalism”, when it is clearly more about financial capitalism1. The assimilation of the two terms does not clarify these debates. Still, ten years after this historic financial disaster, from observing public opinion in the 42 countries of this survey, we can learn several lessons about different populations’ perceptions of the economy.
The first observation is that the balance seems to favor the withdrawal of the state from the economic sphere: 59% of respondents believe that the “role of the government in the economy should be limited and the freedom of enterprises should be strengthened”, while the remaining 41% prefer a stronger role for the state and increased control over companies.

With regard to economic policy, would you say that…

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

2.

See Patricia Commun, Les Ordolibéraux. Histoire d’un libéralisme à l’allemande, Les Belles Lettres, 2016.

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A first reading of these results is geographical: support for the public apparatus’ withdrawal varies across the 42 countries. The English-speaking countries are among the most fervent supporters of a withdrawal of the state from the economy (68% in the United States, 61% in the United Kingdom, 59% in New Zealand and 57% in Canada, but only 50% in Australia). In the European Union, support for state withdrawal barely reaches a majority (52%), but its support is unevenly distributed among the Member States. They can be summarily divided into four groups.
The first consists of countries whose citizens support state intervention, such as Germany (63%) and Luxembourg (59%). This positioning can be explained by the German “ordoliberal” tradition, which promotes market competition through dynamic state supervision and strict control over businesses2.
The second group is made up of “social democracies”, where opinion favors a withdrawal of the state, but where interventionist support remains strong. This is the case for respondents from Belgium (54% favor the withdrawal of the state), Denmark (54%), Sweden (53%), Ireland (53%), France (53%) and Austria (52%).
The third group is made up of southern countries that have severely suffered through the economic crisis. In these nations, citizens are more favorable to a withdrawal of the state, as demonstrated by the Greeks (63%) and Italians (58%). However, this is not a Mediterranean tropism since citizens of the Iberian Peninsula are, for the most part, in favor of increased interventionism (Spain, 62%; Portugal, 52%).
Furthermore, the last group brings together a large portion of the democracies that have recently joined the European Union. Here, responses are clearly favorable to an economy in which the state plays a less important role, as evidenced by the Slovenes (83%), Hungarians (78%), Poles (70%), Latvians (66%) and Slovaks (59%).
The extraordinarily rich material that our survey provides shows that support for state withdrawal seems to more broadly reflect respondents’ level of trust in society, individuals and their businesses. Indeed, demand for greater public control is accompanied by a greater distrust of economic actors and a certain dissatisfaction with the way in which democracy functions. Thus, support for a freer economy is accompanied by a bias in favor of companies. Small and medium-sized businesses enjoy massive public support (78% of respondents trust them), and reaches a higher level among those calling for withdrawal of the state (81%) than among those who, conversely, wish for a stronger presence of public authorities in the economy (73%). While trust in large companies is evidently much weaker (41%), it is higher among those who believe in a free market (45%) than those who instead expect more intervention from the state (35%).

With regard to economic policy, would you say that…

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Trust in economic actors and their freedom seems to be echoed in respondents’ satisfaction with the way democracy works: those who believe that democracy works “very well” in their countries are more inclined to support the withdrawal of the state (63%) than those who consider that it works “very poorly” (58%).
Public opinion on the question of public intervention is undoubtedly affected by concern about public debt. Across the 42 democracies surveyed, 79% of respondents are concerned about the level of government debt and deficits. This fear is mainly shared both by those who support state intervention (77%) and by those against it (80%). Concern is particularly strong in the European Union, especially among Belgians (80%), French (81%), Slovenes (81%), Cypriots (81%), Portuguese (84%), Poles (84%), Lithuanians (84%), Croatians
(85%), Italians (86%), Hungarians (86%), Bulgarians (86%), Slovaks (86%), Spaniards (87%) and Greeks (91%).
Overall, these results summarize the challenges faced by political leaders who wish to reduce the role of the state in the economy in a context of uncertainty and social concern: 87% of respondents are worried about funding of social programs (retirement benefits, healthcare, etc.) and more than three quarters of interviewees (80%) are also worried about social inequality.

6

Schools and health services : particularly popular institutions

Erwan Le Noan 

 

Notes

1.

The other institutions of the survey are: the government, Parliament, the judicial system, political parties, the police, the armed forces, the media, unions, small and medium-sized businesses, large companies, religious authorities, non-profit organizations, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

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The term “school” here refers to the school system in general, from primary school through higher education, while the health sector includes hospitals and the medical professions. In public opinion, school and health services enjoy broad trust. Of the 36, 395 citizens surveyed in the 42 democracies studied, 81% expressed trust in the health services and 75% in educational institutions.
The level of trust is very high in most of the countries studied. Some results may be counter-intuitive. Trust in the health system in the UK (92%) and the U.S. (90%) is dramatically high. Although the UK National Health Service is often considered to be in dire straits and access to healthcare in the U.S. is felt to be deeply unequal, it must be noted that both countries are among the leaders in terms of trust in healthcare institutions. Similarly, with regard to education, Swedish schools, long presented as a model in Europe, now give rise to a certain mistrust on the part of the Swedes: only 58% say they trust schools, 17 points below the average for the countries covered by the survey (75%).
Health services enjoy a privileged position, with no other institution1 receiving such a high level of trust. However, a very clear divide appears between the democracies of Western Europe (with the notable exception of Italy) and the former communist countries, where trust in the health services is much lower.

Trust in hospitals and medical professions
Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

2.

The following countries fall into this category: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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3.

The following countries fall into this category: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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4.

The following countries fall into this category: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia.

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The level of trust in hospitals and medical professions reaches 87% among the French, Irish and Austrians, 88% among the Estonians, 89% among the Norwegians, Danes and Belgians, and borders on unanimity among the Spaniards (90%), Finns (91%) and Dutch (94%). This trust can be seen more generally in all the richest countries in the OECD, such as Australia (95%), New Zealand (93%), Switzerland (87%) and Israel (86%).
Conversely, the level of trust is significantly lower in the countries that have become members of the European Union more recently: there is a significant difference between the level of trust among Romanians (45%) and Slovenians (76%), or Bulgarians (49%), Slovaks (57%), Poles (60%), Hungarians (64%) and Cypriots (64%), although the latter do not come from the former communist bloc.
The Greeks and Italians stand out here. Although they belong to the world of the most developed OECD countries, their level of trust in their health systems is noticeably lower than that of their neighbors: 74% for Italians and 61% for Greeks.
Overall, men have slightly more confidence in the health system than women (82% versus 79%). In some democracies, the trust gap is quite significant, including Sweden (87% vs 75%), Germany (88% vs 79%), Brazil (75% vs 66%), Lithuania (76% vs 68%), Slovenia (79% vs 72%) and Slovakia (61% vs 54%). In the European Union, it is only in Spain that women (91%) have more faith in the health system than men (89%). Outside the European Union, many democracies report results that buck the overall trend, with women feeling more trust for the health system than the men surveyed: 61% of Albanian women trust the health system, compared to 54% of Albanian men, 88% of Israeli women compared to 83% of Israeli men, and 94% of New Zealand women compared to 91% of New Zealand men.

Trust in institutions
Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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Notes

5.

See OCDE, “A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility”, oecd.org, June 15th 2018.

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In democratic societies, the education system is of particular political importance since it is supposed to offer opportunities for social mobility to as many people as possible and to reduce inequalities. Data from our survey show that the educational institution generally enjoys the trust of citizens (75%). Nevertheless, some countries remain significantly below the average. This is the case among the democracies of Central and Eastern Europe. Thus, despite a 3-point increase from our previous study in 2017 (43%), Hungarians remain the most uncertain about their school system, with the lowest level of trust among all the countries surveyed (46%). It is also one of the countries where, according to recent research, social determinism has a particularly strong influence5. Although still the majority opinion, trust levels among Romanians (56%), Slovaks (61%) and Bulgarians (65%) remain relatively low, compared to the average of the 42 countries in the survey (75%). However, limited trust in educational institutions is not confined to the former communist countries. It is also expressed by the Italians (59%), Greeks (60%) and Spaniards (70%), three countries where the level of trust is noticeably lower than the overall average.
Elsewhere, where trust prevails, a distinction must be made between countries where the level is in line with or close to the average, including Brazil (74%), Germany (76%), France (77%) and Israel (78%), and countries where trust is almost unanimously shared. The latter group includes both Northern European countries (Denmark, 81%; Norway, 81%; Finland, 89%), older European Union Member States (Portugal, 80%; Belgium, 85%; Ireland, 89%) and newer Member States (Estonia, 87%; Malta, 95%).
It is interesting to note that the countries with the most “liberal” reputations are among those where trust in the educational institutions is very high: the United States (83%), the United Kingdom (86%), Australia (88%), the Netherlands (89%), Canada (90%) and New Zealand (90%).

7

The army, police, and justice : strong support for institutions of law and order

Mathieu Zagrodzki 

Our study reflects the troubled times with which our societies are faced. In the 42 democracies studied, a significantly large majority of respondents are concerned about crime (85%), terrorism (80%), war (71%) and immigration (61%). In light of this, it is interesting to look at the popularity and legitimacy of law-and-order institutions such as the police, the judicial system and the armed forces.
First observation: overall, in all the surveyed countries, 7 out of 10 citizens trust the police (70%) and the armed forces (71%). Only hospitals/medical professions (81%), schools (75%) and SMEs (78%) rank higher among respondents. The judicial system lags behind at 57%, mainly due to exceptionally low levels of trust in some former Eastern bloc countries and in Brazil.

Trust in institutions
Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

Notes

1.

The following countries fall into this catgegory: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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2.

Dominique Reynié (ed.), What Next for Democracy? An International Survey by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique, Plon, 2017.

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High trust in the police in Europe and North America

The police – and this confirms our 2017 survey2 – are highly trusted by Finns (87%), Danes (87%) and Norwegians (83%). The Estonians (86%), Luxembourgers (85%), Swiss (85%), Dutch (83%), Austrians (83%), Germans (82%, down 3 points from the previous survey) and British (82%) are also highly positioned. In France, the popularity of the police (78%), related to reactions towards the Islamist terrorist attack perpetrated against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2015, is confirmed by several surveys (opinion studies ranked the popularity of law enforcement before January 2015 at around 65%). Trust levels are also high in North America (85% in Canada, 83% in the United States), despite controversy surrounding the excessive use of force and the repeated deaths of African-Americans at the hands of the police in controversial circumstances.
In the European Union, the lowest levels of trust in the police are to be found in former communist bloc countries, as a result of persistent problems of corruption in some of these countries. One-third of Bulgarians trust the police (34%, 2 points lower than in 2017), 40% among Slovaks (5 points lower) and 42% among Romanians (4 points lower). Along with the Greeks (49%), they are the only countries in the European Union where less than half of respondents say they “entirely trust” or “somewhat trust” the police. While corruption and very high crime rates (nearly 64,000 homicides in 2017) probably explain Brazilians’ strong distrust of the police (53% say they do not trust them), it is in Ukraine that distrust is the highest (67%) among all 42 surveyed democracies.
There is a generational gap that, while not spectacular, remains significant: 75% of respondents aged 60 and older trust the police, compared to 66% of those aged 34 years-old and under, representing a 9-point difference. Additionally, respondents on the left of the political spectrum have the most critical view of the police (34% do not trust the police compared to only 22% of respondents on the right).

In some democracies, the judicial system is distrusted

Trust in the judicial system is extremely low in Bulgaria (17%), Croatia (22%), Serbia (24%), Slovakia (27%) and Slovenia (29%). It equals or exceeds 50% in only 22 of the 42 countries surveyed.
A considerably large distinction is apparent among respondents with different professions: a disparity of 16 points separates managers and professionals (67% trust the judicial system) and unskilled employees (51%). This is proof that the judicial system is probably seen by respondents with more modest professions as inaccessible and serving the interests of the more powerful. In the case of France, a focus on political positioning provides an interesting insight: the two extremes of the political spectrum are the most critical of the judicial system. While the extreme left (respondents ranked the most to the left on a scale of 0 to 10) does not trust the judicial system (72%), distrust is even stronger at the other end of the political spectrum (79% for respondents ranked most to the right). This could be explained by the perception that the criminal justice system is too permissive.

The armed forces, a respected institution throughout Europe

Trust in the army is only lower than 50% in one country: Japan (41%). These results, with peaks at 90% in Israel and 89% in the United States, show that there is indeed a distinction to be made between the police and the army: the first is a public service with enforcement power that citizens can face on a daily basis; the army is both a force to intervene exteriorly and a national symbol. Religion and political affiliation play a vital role in interviewees’ consideration vis-à-vis this truly sovereign institution. Firstly, there is a significant difference between Christians (79%), Muslims (65%) and Atheists (58%). Secondly, the army is perceived much more positively on the political right (83% trust the institution) than on the political left (61%).

Is having the armed forces govern the country a good or a bad way of governing?
Total responses: “very good” and “good”

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Fondation pour l’innovation politique/International Republican Institute – 2019

8

Democracies under pressure and the European values studies : convergent data

Pierre Bréchon

Notes

1.

The data for France have been published by Pierre Bréchon, Frédéric Gonthier and Sandrine Astor (ed.) in La France des valeurs. Quarante ans d’évolutions, Grenoble University Press, 2019. You can also consult the website.

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2.

This results in a group of 10,201 individuals for the Fondation pour l’innovation politique and the International Republican Institute survey and 14,432 individuals for the EVS survey.

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Surveys of European values (European Values Studies, EVS) have been conducted every nine or ten years since 1981, across almost all European countries. They had not been updated since 2008. A new round of the survey, carried out in 2017-2018, is currently being published1. In the meantime, the data collected by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique (Fondapol) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) between September-October 2018 provide an update on the evolution of political values and on the support for democratic political systems in national public opinions. Here, we will analyze a number of questions from the present survey which were also asked in the surveys on Europeans values, after first explaining why this comparison must be made cautiously.

A cautious comparison

There are several factors that, when taken into account, lead us to be cautious in drawing conclusions from this comparison. There are in fact few questions shared by the surveys, and the wording of those questions can vary: it is not certain that even when the questions are identical in the two master questionnaires (which is generally the case for the questions chosen here), the translations of said questions were identical across the different countries.
The survey methodologies are not at all the same. The Fondation pour l’innovation politique and the International Republican Institute conducted the survey in forty-two countries based on national samples obtained online from panels provided by a polling organization (except in a few countries where a face-to-face method was used), while the EVS survey is face-to-face (with some online experiments), across thirty-eight European countries, following a very demanding random selection procedure. We know that the choice of online vs face-to-face interviews can alter the results, particularly for questions which are subject to “social desirability” effects: a survey can, for example, more easily uncover xenophobic tendencies online than when subjects are facing an interviewer.
An online survey can be carried out over a short period of time, whereas it takes much longer to complete a random face-to-face survey in subjects’ homes. The period of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique- International Republican Institute survey was condensed over two months (September-October 2018), whereas it often took four or five months to complete the EVS survey. In addition, for the EVS survey, each country had to source its own funding, and the methodology applied resulted in exorbitant field costs. As a result, the national teams have sometimes been forced to postpone the field survey until they have completed a round of funding requests. Thus, the survey originally scheduled for autumn 2017 was, in nearly half of the countries, only carried out in 2018.
The comparison of the two surveys may also be imperfect due to different practices regarding “non-response” answers. With online methods, it is possible to allow respondents not to answer each question or, on the contrary, to require a response to each question (before moving on to the next). It appears that the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey often did not allow non-responses, while they are systematically provided for by the EVS survey.
There is an additional difficulty in comparing the data from the two surveys: the EVS data have so far only been published for sixteen countries (without international weighting). Nevertheless, it is indeed possible to compare the results of the two surveys and to reach very interesting conclusions. Eleven countries have been selected for this purpose from among the available results of the two surveys. These eleven countries cover Western, Eastern and Southern Europe: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland2.
In order to allow comparison with the EVS averages, which do not currently have international weighting, an exception has been made and the averages of the study by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique and the International Republican Institute will not be weighted in the first two tables.
For the first table below, the comparison concerns four types of political systems for which each interviewee must say whether he or she feels it is good or bad. The resulting rankings are quite similar, regardless of the survey used. Democracy is widely popular, but the use of experts is also rather well-received, while calling on a strongman with authoritarian power is seen negatively, and even more so the idea of power entrusted to the army.

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* This survey was administered in September and October 2018 and the study was published in 2019.

Note for the reader: On average, in the eleven countries concerned, a democratic political system with an elected Parliament that runs the government is deemed to be a “very good” way of governing by 36% of the Fondapol-IRI study’s sample, and by 57% of EVS respondents.

Notes

3.

The surveys undertaken in Arab countries show this clearly (see Pierre Bréchon, “Les opinions publiques arabes. Entre attachement à l’Islam et à la démocratie”, Futuribles, n°. 425, July-August 2018, p. 5-19).

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We should add that this ranking of results is more or less universal. When people from nearly every country in the world are asked what they think about different political systems, democracy almost always comes out on top, even in very undemocratic countries3. The democratic aspiration is universal, but we will see further on that it often remains superficial.
In the table above, the case-by-case comparison of the two surveys often shows similar percentages, but differences do sometimes emerge: the most positive assessment of a democratic government is significantly more frequent in the EVS survey than in the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey (57% versus 36%).
It is also apparent that analyses cross-referencing responses on this subject with socio-demographic variables aimed at understanding the logic of opinion on a given subject provide evidence of very similar relationships, regardless of the survey used. The raw figures may be different, but the relationships between the variables – and therefore the sociological conclusions that can be drawn from the data – are most frequently the same.
Let us show a second comparison: the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey has a series of questions regarding trust in institutions that is quite similar to the one included in the European Values Survey (see adjacent table). Again, the percentages are not exactly the same, but the conclusions that can be drawn from the two surveys are similar.

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* The Fondapol-IRI survey identifies sixteen institutions, the EVS eighteen. The table here shows those that are identical or very similar. When there are different headings, the first one corresponds to the Fondapol-IRI wording, while the second one corresponds to the EVS wording. The response options are not entirely identical but in both cases are related to the idea of trust. The Fondapol-IRI questionnaire did not offer the possibility of not responding, unlike the EVS.

Notes

4.

The different wording used – “hospitals and medical professions” for the Fondapol-IRI survey, “health system” for EVS – may help explain the difference in results. The practical formulation adopted by the Fondapol-IRI survey would attract more positive responses than the off-putting reference to a system.

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5.

The image of SMEs, also examined by the Fondapol-IRI survey, is much more positive than that of large companies.

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6.

The media have long been subject to suspicion, but opinions have recently become even more negative in the context of fairly widespread criticism of the elites in many European countries.

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7.

They even trust the European institutions slightly more than their national political institutions.

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8.

The results presented in the previous tables only change by 2 or 3 points when taking into account 30 countries instead of 11.

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Regardless of the survey, the general distribution of responses is roughly the same for each institution. The nuanced (median) positions represent most of the responses. In other words, there is never widespread trust and quite rarely systematic mistrust. Total trust never exceeds 22%, with total mistrust rising as high as 44%.
It is for the trade unions that the results vary the most between surveys. According to the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey, the assessment of trade unions is balanced with the relationship of trust at 50/50. However, according to the EVS data, trust is limited to one-third of respondents (34%), with distrust rising to two-thirds (66%). Overall, the responses from the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey show a slightly higher level of trust than those of EVS, which may suggest that the samples surveyed by the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey are more conformist than those used by the EVS.
There is an exception to the higher trust found in the data of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique- International Republican Institute survey: “the religious authorities” (Fondapol-IRI wording) are seen more negatively than “the Church” (EVS wording). The phenomenon can be explained by the wording used. The term “Church” is more global, while the term “religious authorities” refers only to those who run the organizations. Today, their image might be more negative than that of their followers.
In both surveys, the ranking of institutions is fairly similar. The institutions of the welfare state (hospitals/healthcare4 and educational systems), intended to meet the fundamental needs of individuals, as well as those that represent the defense of order and public security (armed forces and the police), generate quite strong trust. Organizations based in civil society (trade unions, large companies5, the media6) are seen somewhat negatively.
The main institutions that embody representative democracy (Parliament, the government, parties) still seem to be subject to slightly more criticism. In different countries, Europeans, who are proud supporters of the democratic system, have little trust in the institutions that embody it7. This is a sign of democratic fragility which we will come back to.
Having shown the challenges but also the value of comparisons, as conclusions based on several parallel observations have more weight, let us now refine the conclusions that can only be drawn from the Fondapol-IRI study by looking at 30 countries, the 27 countries of the European Union plus Norway, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and by introducing the differences between these countries8.

Democracy : a superficial attachment, but consistent weaknesses 

The table below shows the list of the different political systems by country. For all 30 countries selected, 88% consider representative democracy a “very good” or “good” political system, with small differences between countries (from 83% in Romania to 93% in the United Kingdom).

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* Weighted average according to the size of countries’ populations.

Note for the reader: In Austria, 90% of respondents consider that having a democratic political system with an elected Parliament that controls the government is a “good” or “very good” way of governing a country.

Notes

9.

For the other countries studied by the Fondapol-IRI survey, not selected here, military power is seen as “very good” or “good” only in Brazil (45%) and Macedonia (35%). In Brazil, the economic crisis, rising violence, dissatisfaction with political corruption and the resulting instability after the impeachment of the President and Lula’s imprisonment may explain this military temptation, although the country has already experimented with such a system between 1964 and 1985. This high level of support for the military option makes it possible to understand Jair Bolsonaro’s success in the 2018 presidential election.

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10.

A similar question also exists in the 2017-2018 EVS survey, but with a ten-point scale for responses, from 1 (“not at all satisfied”) to 10 (“completely satisfied”). The question from the Fondapol-IRI survey (“Would you say that democracy in your country works very well, well, poorly or very poorly?” is almost identical to the one EVS asked in 2008.

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11.

Trust in democratic regimes is particularly strong in richer countries, although the economic criterion is not the only explanation for variations in the evaluations (see Ronald F. Inglehart, Les Transformations culturelles. Comment les valeurs des individus bouleversent le monde ?, Grenoble University Press, 2018).

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12.

See Pierre Bréchon and Frédéric Gonthier (ed.), Atlas des Européens. Valeurs communes et différences nationales, Armand Colin, 2013 ; Id., Les Valeurs des Européens. Évolutions et clivages, Armand Colin, 2014.

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13.

Based on the five questions about desirable political systems, we count the number of democratic answers from each respondent. Responses of very or quite good for the systems of representative democracy and direct democracy are considered democratic, as well as responses of very or quite bad for a government of experts, authoritarian power and military leadership of the country.

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The Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute measured a fifth type of system (not covered by the EVS data), namely, “having citizens decide what is best for the country, rather than the government”. Two-thirds of Europeans broadly agree with this form of political system, direct democracy, which shows that many supporters of representative democracy nevertheless want it to give more weight to the voice of citizens.

The differences by country are greater than for representative democracy: responses range from 42% support in the Netherlands to 84% in Hungary. The countries which are least in favor of it are those that are most satisfied with the functioning of their representative democracy, especially the Scandinavian countries. Satisfied with their system, they are less likely to find it necessary to express themselves directly, while the direct participation of citizens in decision-making seems particularly appealing where public opinion is generally dissatisfied with the functioning of democracy, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe.
A political system that gives great weight to experts also enjoys broad support (nearly two out of three Europeans). Once again, the differences between countries are significant and are explained by the same type of logic as above. A government of experts is seen as particularly attractive in the European countries of the former communist bloc, but also in Spain, probably because democracy there is recent and does not seem to function very soundly. This way of governing is much less attractive to the Swedes (37%), Norwegians (39%), Swiss (42%), Danes (44%), Luxembourgers (44%), Maltese (45%), and also Estonians (31%).
While political power in the hands of a strong leader who is not subjected to the control of a Parliament or elections is considered good only by a third of Europeans (33%), it is nevertheless surprising to see such a high score in a Europe where, according to the Treaty of the European Union, all member countries claim to support democratic values. The authoritarian temptation is still strong in some Eastern countries, in Lithuania (70%), Bulgaria (62%) or Romania (57%), and weak in countries with the strongest democratic traditions, in Sweden (12%) and the Netherlands (15%).
The only political system clearly rejected by Europeans is power being entrusted to the military (just 13%), with small differences by country (from 4% in Luxembourg and 5% in Sweden to 24% in Romania). There is therefore a quasi-consensus against the idea of military power9.
The right-hand column of the adjacent table no longer concerns desired political systems, but rather the assessment of the effectiveness of the functioning of democracy in the country10. This indicator is obviously very important as it measures the public’s trust in its political institutions and indicates the stability of the country. The more dissatisfaction prevails, the stronger the temptation will be to deviate from the democratic ideal. Overall, the level of satisfaction is mixed: 52% on average, again with very significant national differences, following the logic already explained. Some countries view the functioning of their national democracy very favorably (Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, but also Ireland, Malta and Estonia)11, while others are very critical (Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia). In former communist Europe, the Baltic countries, the Czechs and, in part, the Poles, escape this pessimism. On the other hand, unexpectedly, a very negative opinion is found among the Italians (only 33% have a positive opinion), who are very critical of the functioning of their political system. It is possible that the strong negative opinions recorded in the autumn of 2018 are due to the combination of two dissatisfactions: that of those who are discontented with the traditional political parties and voted for populist movements in the legislative elections, and that of the people who, on the contrary, are very worried about the rise to power of these forces.
In light of these results as well as those of the European Values Surveys12, where the same geographical rationales appear in each round of the survey, we realize that the attachment to democratic values is not as strong as one might think by simply looking at its position at the top of the list of political systems. Everyone, or nearly everyone, is in favor of democracy, but not exclusively so. Some of those who declare themselves to be democrats are prepared to accept other systems, particularly in crisis situations. When we create an index of the strength of democratic values13, it reveals that only 50% of Europeans can be considered exclusive democrats (having four or five responses in favor of democratic positions), 33% cautious democrats (three responses in favor of democratic positions) and 17% non-democrats (zero, one or two responses in favor of democratic positions).

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* Weighted average according to the size of countries’ populations.

Note for the reader: In Austria, 77 % of respondents “entirely trust” or “trust” schools.

Notes

14.

The low level of trust in schools in Sweden is thus all the more surprising.

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15.

The low level of trust in Germany is probably due to the memory of the Second World War, while the high level of trust among the Irish probably stems from the army’s role in defending independent Ireland from British powers.

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While the welfare state and institutions of order are popular, this is less the case for the institutions of representative democracy

We return to trust in institutions to present the country-specific results of the Fondation pour l’innovation politique-International Republican Institute survey. Of course, the levels vary by country. The adjacent table shows the country distributions only for certain institutions. Trust is generally stronger in Western European countries, especially in Scandinavian countries14, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Germany, than in Eastern European countries, in particular Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Croatia and Slovenia. However, the Baltic countries, and Estonia in particular, seem to have much more confidence in their institutions than the other countries of the former Soviet bloc. The Czech Republic also appears to place relative trust in its institutions.
In Southern Europe, the situation is mixed. The Greeks have long been relatively wary about many of their institutions (except the army), and Italians seem to have almost joined them. The Portuguese and the Spaniards hold intermediate positions, while the Maltese and Cypriots show more trust.
Trust in the army seems to be the most homogeneous across countries: the differences range from 52% in Germany to 87% in Ireland15. Trust in the judicial system, on the other hand, is very fragmented: from 17% in Bulgaria and 22% in Croatia to 84% in Denmark. When trust in the judicial system is low, public life and the security of relations between social actors are compromised. Similar reasoning can be applied to trust in Parliament, which is generally quite low in Europe (44%) and has even shown a tendency to decline in recent decades. A lack of trust in Parliament may promote illegal undertakings and populist tendencies, or even seditious and authoritarian actions.
These international surveys therefore show that trust in the democratic system is not as strong as one might think. While economic development and the existence of an appropriate political culture promote stable democracies, economic crises have the opposite effect. The weaknesses of democracy have existed for a long time, but today they are encouraged by a climate of discontent among part of the population with regard to its elites.

IV Section

Europe and democracy : linked destinies

1

The western balkans* on the road to democracy

Alex Tarascio

Notes

*.

* Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia fall into the category of the “Western Balkans”. Croatia is not included here because of its status as a Member State of the European Union. It is important to maintain this distinction because the question of accession to the European Union defines the policies of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia in a fundamental way, which is not the case for Croatia.

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1.

When referring to respondents, the terms ‘Croatian’ and ‘Serbian’ mean all inhabitants who make up the nationally representative sample of each country. These terms do not refer to distinct ethnic categories.

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2.

“What’s next for China’s 16+1 Platform in Central and Eastern Europe?” The Diplomat, July 3rd (https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/ whats-next-for-chinas-161-platform-in-central-and-eastern-europe/). The 16+1 was established in 2012 as a multilateral platform facilitating cooperation between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC). In recent years, the platform’s summits have attracted a lot of attention, especially in Western Europe. The intensifying level of engagement between the 16 countries in the CEE region and China has considerably alarmed Brussels and Berlin.

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Whether a country is a Member State of the European Union or a candidate country, this does not necessarily impact how its citizens’ view the Union. Croatian respondents, who are EU citizens, hold similar views on EU membership as Serbian respondents when asked about their potential accession – 37% of Croatians think their EU membership is “a good thing” while 33% of Serbs think their potential accession to the EU is “a good thing”. There are other such similarities, as to be expected between countries that share borders and a common political history. For instance, most Croatian respondents (57%) say the future of their country will be “not as good as it is now” compared to 52% of Serbian respondents who say the same1. On the other hand, beyond this example, the Western Balkan countries display a number of common characteristics and seem rather favorable to accession to the European Union, though with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Majority of western balkan citizens support EU accession

In general, a majority (51%) think EU accession would be a good thing, compared to those who think it would be “neither good nor bad” (33%) or a “bad thing” (16%). For the individual countries, majorities favor EU accession in Albania (88%), North Macedonia (60%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (52%). In Serbia, more favor EU accession (33%) than oppose it (22%), but the largest number (45%) think it would be “neither a good nor a bad thing”.
Compared to Bosnia and Herzegovina (31%), North Macedonia (26%) and Albania (9%), Serbia has the largest number of respondents who remain on the fence, representing a substantial proportion of the population who are not decidedly against joining the European Union, but question how much good it will do. Demographically, respondents in this group are generally disinterested in politics (70%).

No clear affinity for any world power

Sustained engagement efforts by China and Russia have resulted in far more positive views of the two countries in the Western Balkans than in other countries. China has used its “16+1 Framework”2 to extend its influence in Europe and further its signature infrastructure investment project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s foothold is perhaps most apparent in Belgrade, Serbia, where it has begun building a new Chinese Cultural Center in Novi Beograd, on the site of the former Chinese embassy destroyed by the United States during the 1999 NATO bombing of the then Yugoslavia. Russia has longstanding political ties to the Western Balkans – particularly in Serbia and Republika Srpska (one of two constitutional and legal entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the other being the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as North Macedonia to a lesser extent, and has expanded its cultural influence through tools such as the global television network Russia Today, which has become a major international news source for many in the Western Balkans.
When asked to choose between the United States, China, Russia, and the European Union, most identified the U.S. as the most influential country in the world. Respondents in the Western Balkans overall chose the U.S. first (67%), followed by Russia (15%), the European Union (10%) and China (8%).
It appears that citizens in the Western Balkans regard the most influential nations with the greatest concern, and see less influential powers as less concerning.

For each of the following powers, indicate whether you think their posture on the international stage is worrying, reassuring or neither

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As a region wedged between competing world powers, this helps explain the results for how the Western Balkans see China. Viewed as the least influential of the four powers, China is seen as a reassuring presence compared to more familiar nearby powers. Respondents may see value in the balancing role China can play in offsetting the power of the United States, European Union, or Russia, suggesting those in the region do not wish to be beholden to or reliant on any single nation.
With respect to Russia, the differences in opinion are so pronounced that it is necessary to consider these countries individually, with particular attention given to Serbia and Albania. The data from Serbia reflect its historically strong ties with Russia: Serbia is the only country in Europe with a majority (56%) who believe that Russia’s posture on the international stage is reassuring, and has the lowest share of respondents (12%) who say that Russia’s posture is worrisome. Considering Serbia’s history, it is not surprising to see its strong cultural affinity with Russia, and the intensity of that bond is perhaps the most dominant driver of Serbian opinion.
Albania occupies the opposite end of the spectrum, with more than half (51%) saying that they find Russia’s posture to be worrisome and less than a quarter (24%) finding it reassuring. In contrast with Serbia, Albania holds extremely positive views toward the United States, with more citizens who find the U.S.’ posture to be reassuring (59%) than any other surveyed country in Europe. This view is exceeded only by Albania’s exceptionally positive view of the European Union: more Albanians view the EU as reassuring (72%) than any actual EU Member State.

Support for democratic ideals, but distrust for national democratic institutions

Democratic principles have widespread support in the Western Balkans, but to most, the practice of democracy falls short. Across the region, most do not see democracy as well-functioning and have little trust in institutions connected to politics, including the government (29%), Parliament (27%), and political parties (15%). Political parties are the least trusted institution in most countries, but are viewed with particular negativity in the Western Balkans. In Serbia, parties net a mere 3% trust; the 97% of citizens who distrust political parties in Serbia is composed of 63% who “entirely distrust” parties.

Would you say that democracy in your country works…

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Across the region, most say that democracy in their countries works poorly. Serbia (77%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (76%) have the highest share of respondents who say democracy functions poorly, followed by North Macedonia (63%) and Albania (55%). An overall majority (56%) do not believe that electoral processes in their countries are transparent. Majorities agreed with the statement “voting is worthwhile because elections can make a difference” in Bosnia and Herzegovina (66%), Albania (54%) and North Macedonia (54%). In Serbia, a majority (54%) said that “voting is pointless because politicians do not care about the will of the people”.
Apolitical institutions enjoy higher levels of trust than those affiliated with politics or government. Schools are the most trusted institution across the region, and are seen most positively in North Macedonia (83%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (78%), Albania (75%), and Serbia (60%). The armed forces tend to be seen favorably in most countries, and the 64% of respondents in the Western Balkans who trust the military is similar to the 65% rate among EU Member States. Trust in the military is one of few categories where Serbian opinion closely follows its neighbors in the region.
North Macedonia has by far the most trust in government (44%) and Parliament (42%) compared to others in the region (Albania: 38% and 29% respectively, Bosnia and Herzegovina: 30% and 33% respectively, and Serbia: 21% and 18%), despite having emerged from a major democratic decline and political crisis only two years ago. It is possible their relatively more positive attitudes are a reflection that the country has moved in a positive direction since the political crisis that saw members of Parliament attacked and bloodied in 2017. The resolution of the name dispute between North Macedonia and Greece has also been a top priority for the government, which has linked the issue to NATO accession. Macedonians remain divided on a solution, although the country has been unusually involved on the subject. This question may have contributed to how Macedonians perceive their democratic institutions compared to their neighbors in the region.

Indicate whether this way of governing a country is/would bevery good, good, bad, or very bad
Total responses: “very good” and “good”

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Questions pertaining to private enterprises indicate that the Western Balkans hold a more positive view of businesses than of the government. Majorities in the four countries think “the role of government in the economy should be limited and freedom of enterprises should be strengthened” (64%). This view is more widespread in the Western Balkans compared to the EU, with a narrow majority (52%) favoring private businesses and less government regulation in the economy. In addition to favoring less regulation generally, respondents from the Western Balkans also show greater trust in businesses than in government institutions. Small and medium-sized businesses are viewed more favorably than large companies, which still benefit from a majority level of trust in every country except Serbia.

Trust in businesses
Total responses: “entirely trust” and “somewhat trust”

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The media are facing a decline in trust across Europe but are viewed more positively in three out of four Western Balkans nations. The media are trusted by majorities in Albania (55%) and North Macedonia (53%), while distrust in the media dominates in Bosnia and Herzegovina (54%). Serbian attitudes are sharply different, with an extraordinary 91% of respondents expressing distrust in the domestic media. This may be attributable to a decline in media independence in recent years, which has created a news environment dominated by the government-controlled public broadcaster and government-aligned private broadcasters.

2

Hungarians, poles, Slovaks and Czechs feel that democracy is the best system

Jacques Rupnik

Thirty years after the fall of the former communist regime, the citizens of the Visegrád group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) consider that “there is no substitute for the democratic system, it is the best possible system”. However, this survey notes that this attachment is less pronounced in the Czech Republic (55%) and Slovakia (52%) than in Poland (68%) and Hungary (71%), countries where some “liberal” gains after 1989 have been recently mishandled.

I prefer more order even if it means less freedom

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