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Thursday, January 19, 2006

World Attitudes On Politicians And Peace & Security


World survey finds most people have little faith in politicians
Thursday, January 19, 2006
GENEVA: The findings of a World Economic Forum survey - the Voice of the People - carried out by Gallup International make grim reading for the world's leaders, particularly its politicians. Around the world, survey respondents overwhelmingly found that political leaders are dishonest, have too much power and are too easily influenced. The survey is released just ahead of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos - where more than 2,200 leaders from business, politics and civil society will convene under the theme, "The Creative Imperative."

The results come from a new Voice of the People survey by Gallup International carried out exclusively for the World Economic Forum. Almost 50,000 people in over 60 countries across the world were interviewed in November and December 2005. The findings represent the views of more than two billion citizens. Respondents were also asked about prospects for a safer and more economically prosperous world for the next generation. The results show there is increasing optimism about these two important global aspects. The survey also finds that business leaders are widely held in better esteem than their political counterparts whose credibility appears to be declining. While business leaders around the world consistently have a better image than political leaders, significant proportions still criticize both sets of leaders on different criteria, with dishonesty being heavily associated with political leaders.

Criticism of business leaders is mainly concentrated on two aspects: they respond to pressure from people more powerful than they are, and they have too much power and responsibility. Opinions about whether the next generation will live in a safer world are mixed - one-third (35 percent) think the world will either be a lot or a little safer but only a slightly lower proportion (30 percent) feel that it will be a lot or a little less safe. In the Middle East, an area of the world that has experienced many conflicts in recent times, the region remains upbeat about prospects for safety in the future. A quarter of those interviewed (24 percent), feel it will be safer, compared with one in three (30 percent) who feel the opposite. Within the Middle East region, interviews were conducted in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both these countries, respondents were even more optimistic about future prospects. In Afghanistan, three-quarters (77 percent) think the next generation will live in a safer world, while in Iraq this view is held by six in every ten (61 percent) interviewed. Asia and Africa are also more upbeat about the next generations' safety with 45 percent and 48 percent respectively feeling the next generation will live in a world that is a lot or a little safer. This question was first asked in the 2003 and then again in the 2004 Voice of the People surveys and overall this year's results represent a considerable improvement. Respondents were also asked whether they think the future generation will live in a world of greater or less economic prosperity and again, the results show that there is also growing optimism regarding this element. More than four out of ten respondents globally (43 percent) indicated that the next generation will live in a lot or little more economically prosperous world than now, while one-third (30 percent) felt it would be a lot or a little less prosperous for the future generation. Again, results here reflect a trend, with more people than in previous years believing that the next generation will live in a more prosperous world. The Voice of the People also asked respondents to compare the characteristics of political leaders with those of business leaders. As previously stated, business leaders were consistently rated more positively than political leaders, with criticisms of the latter group featuring heavily on their dishonesty - mentioned by more than six out of ten global citizens (61 percent) who indicated that politicians respond too much to pressure from people more powerful than themselves (53 percent), that they have too much power and responsibility (53 percent) and that they behave unethically (49 percent). Additionally, just under half (45 percent) mentioned that they were not competent and capable.

These figures do not show much change and certainly not much improvement since they were first asked in the Voice of the People survey in 2004, when 63 percent thought political leaders were dishonest (for business leaders the figure was 43 percent). Finally, as in 2004, respondents were asked what they think the priorities should be for global leaders. Again, there is little change between the 2004 results and this year's. Globally, citizens want leaders to focus on encouraging economic growth and improving the global economy (17 percent), closing the gap between rich and poor countries (16 percent), protecting the environment (14 percent), and eliminating extreme poverty and hunger (12 percent) and the "war on terrorism" (10 percent).
However, the top priority is different in almost every region. In Western Europe, 18 percent want leaders to focus on eliminating extreme poverty and hunger in the world, in Eastern and Central Europe the priority is seen as the war on terrorism (20 percent), as it is also in the Middle East (22 percent). The Americas see the priority as eliminating extreme poverty and hunger (20 percent), although in the United States itself, the priority is given to the war on terrorism (16 percent). In Asia, leaders are asked to focus on encouraging economic growth and improving the world economy (21 percent), while in Africa equal proportions want leaders to concentrate on closing the gap between rich and poor countries (21 percent) and on encouraging economic growth and improving the global economy (22 percent). So it seems the pressure is on global leaders to achieve some of these objectives for the citizens of the world who, in doing so, improve their ratings and the opinions that global citizens hold of them. - World Economic Forum





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