All around the globe, people are feeling increasingly skeptical and mistrustful of their leaders. According to one global trust barometer, only 52% of survey respondents said that they trusted their government to do the right thing in 2011 and, in 2012, the number plummeted to 43%. As recent surveys reveal, only 18% of Italians believe their vote matters, just 15% of Greeks says that pulling a lever makes a difference and a scant 20% of Americans agree that their government makes good decisions. Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea suffered 26- and 17-point declines in government trust ratings this year, respectively.
These are all democracies. Which means that citizens do not trust the very people they voted into office.
Our societies are more democratic than ever but our public institutions are less trusted; the citizens in the West are freer than ever before but voters feel less powerful than yesterday.
It’s hardly clear that the citizens in the West are freer than ever before — or that voter power leads to freedom.
Ivan Krastev explains how he became interested in democracy:
It’s very personal. I was 24-years-old when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. And on one level, of course, democracy was extremely important for our generation. But on the other hand, we learned in 1989 how fragile the world is. For a long time, in my youth, we had been told that the problems of socialism could be cured with more socialism. So when I hear people talking about their problem with democracy, but we’re curing the problems of democracies with more democracy, I decided that I needed to look at what we’re talking about.