Friday, November 30, 2012

Evidence of Increasing Public Distrust and Lack of Confidence in Elected Representatives

The international occupy movement symbolizes the disconnect between some citizens and the ruling elites.
Recent surveys, as an example, by the Environics Institute and the AmericasBarometer indicate that western democracy is a troubled system of government.

Some of the survey results:


39 percent of Canadians surveyed place greater faith in citizens taking grassroots actions through protests and other means as the best way to get things done.
45 of Canadians surveys say they still has confidence in politicians to settle issues of competing interests. (65 percent of Canadians do not have confidence in elected officials.) (Hepburn, The Star, November 29, 2012).


Only 17 percent of Canadians trust the Canadian Parliament and only 10 percent of of Canadians trust Canadian political parties (Hepburn, The Star, November 29, 2012).

Additional evidence is the low voter turnout in the recent 2012 U.S. Presidential election, in which 42.5 percent of the American electorate did not vote. More Americans did not vote than vote for Obama. (42.5 percent to 31.47 percent.)

The ongoing public protests in Greece is evidence of a disconnect between Greek elected officials and the Greek public.

The U.S. two-party monopoly of the federal level of government and the United States electoral system's near failing FDA audit score of 54.5 percent are evidences of a troubled U.S. system.

Due to the long gap between elections, rare citizen initiated referendums, and elections the only direct means for public accountability, the election process is critical in determining who forms government, and thereby who controls public policy. In all western countries, the majority of elected officials determine their own elections laws within constraints of their countries' constitutions. This reality is a clear conflict of interest, and likely contributes to the perpetuation of the status quo. Any significant democratic change must start with election processes by making them fair and equitable for all registered parties (and non-parties as in the case of countries like Bolivia).

The public distrust and lack of confidence in elected officials may stem from the fact that western governments are likely beholden to international financial institutions:

Who Should Serve Democracy?

In a December 5th podcast, the FDA will be exploring the causes of public powerlessness in politics and sources of public empowerment in politics.

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director.

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