Young people more likely to doubt the merits of democracy: global survey

Democracy remains popular around the world, but facing global challenges ranging from inequality to the climate crisis, young people are much less likely than their elders to believe that it can meet their concerns.

According to a major international survey of 30 countries published on Tuesday, 86% of respondents would prefer to live in a democratic state and only 20% believe authoritarian regimes are more capable of giving “what citizens want”.

However, only 57% of respondents aged 18 to 35 felt that democracy was superior to any other type of government, while 71% of those over the age of 56 said so, and 42% of younger people said the same. They were supportive of military rule, compared to only 20% of older people. respondents

The report by the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a civil society donor network funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, also found that more than a third (35%) of young people felt there was a “strong leader” who did not hold elections or parliament. Consulting was “a good way to run the country”.

Mark Malloch Brown, president of OSF and former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “Our findings are both sobering and worrying.” “People around the world still want to believe in democracy, but across the generations that trust is waning as doubts grow about its ability to bring about concrete change in their lives.”

The poll revealed strong support for human rights, with majorities between 85% and 95% across all regions and at every income level agreeing that it is legal for governments to violate individual rights based on appearance, religion, sexual or gender orientation. It was wrong to do.

At a time of rising national and international crises – respondents were most concerned about poverty and inequality (20%), the climate crisis (20%) and corruption (18%) – more than half (53%) felt their country Moving forward. wrong direction, and nearly a third said politicians are not acting in their best interests.

The report said that when almost half of the respondents (49%), including from countries as diverse as Bangladesh and the US, said they had struggled to feed themselves at least once in the past year, democracy was falling short of its potential. Was.

Malloch Brown said, “Confidence in the fundamental elements of democracy exists alongside profound skepticism about its real-world practice and effectiveness.”

An average of 58% of respondents also said they were worried that political unrest in their countries could lead to violence in the next year – this fear was highest in South Africa and Kenya (79%), Colombia (77%) and Nigeria. 75%), but this included two-thirds of respondents from the US and France.

Insecurity was also a big concern, with 42% of people, including most of Latin America – 74% in Brazil, 73% in Argentina, 65% in Colombia and 60% in Mexico – saying they did not feel the laws were there. Would have been. His country protected people like him.

Nearly 70% of the more than 36,000 people surveyed said they are concerned that the climate crisis will affect them and their livelihoods in the coming year, including in Bangladesh (90%), Turkey (85%), Kenya (83% ) and the people of India. (82%) are most concerned, and China (45%), Russia (48%) and the UK (54%) are least concerned.

India and Italy saw 32% of people view the climate crisis as the most important challenge facing the world, followed by Germany (28%), Egypt (27%), Mexico (27%), France (25%) and Bangladesh ( 25%).

However, nationally, corruption was the main concern, with an average of 23% saying it was the biggest issue facing their country – ranging from 6% in Germany and 7% in France and Britain to 45% in Ghana, 44% in Nigeria. and 37% in Colombia.

Poverty and inequality ranked highest among the issues most directly affecting people individually – including Senegal, the smallest economy in the survey, and the US, the largest – with an average score of nearly 21%.

Migration, while highly visible as a major political campaign issue in many countries, was a topic of less concern. Only 7% of respondents said migration was their biggest concern both globally and nationally, and 66% wanted to see more safe and legal pathways for migrants.

Many respondents believed China’s growing influence would be a force for good, while almost twice as many respondents believed it would have a positive impact on their country (45%) as opposed to a negative (25%).

However, people in low-income countries such as Pakistan (76%), Ethiopia (72%), and Egypt (71%) were more enthusiastic than those in high-income democracies such as Japan (3%), Germany (14%). %), UK (16%) and US (25%).

In the UK, the survey – titled Can Democracy Deliver? – Levels of trust in national politicians were found to be low (20% against the global average of 30%), and trust in international institutions was also low (26%), with only France, Germany, Japan and Russia scoring lower.