Ineffective governance has eroded young people’s faith in governments’ ability to tackle pressing issues, a survey has found
A survey of more than 36,000 people in 30 countries has found that younger people increasingly believe that democracy is incapable of producing solutions to the issues that affect them most.
The results of the wide-ranging poll, which was conducted between May and July of this year by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF), indicate that while democracy remains the preferred option for the vast majority of respondents, just 57% of the 18-35 age group view it as being preferable to other means of governance.
“Our findings are both sobering and alarming,” OSF president Mark Malloch Brown said of the poll, the findings of which were released on Tuesday. “People around the world still want to believe in democracy but, generation by generation, that faith is fading as doubts grow about its ability to deliver concrete changes to their lives.”
Some 35% of younger people, the report adds, believe that having a “strong leader” who does not hold elections or engage with legislatures is a “good way to run a country.” In the same age group, 42% indicated support for military rule, while 20% of older respondents answered similarly.
However, the poll also indicated overwhelming support (between 85% and 95%) across all age groups and income levels for a variety of issues, principally that it is wrong for governments to discriminate against individuals on the basis of appearance, religion, sexual or gender identity.
Poverty, inequality and the climate crisis were also cited as being the most pressing issues facing people today – but over half (53%) said they felt their country was going in the wrong direction. About a third also indicated that they believed politicians are not working in the best interests of their constituents.
“Confidence in the foundational elements of democracy coexists with profound doubts and its real-world practice and impact,” Brown said.
An average of around 70%, meanwhile, said they were concerned that the climate crisis would have a negative impact on their livelihoods in the next 12 months.
The survey also found that, while the topic of migration has been ever-present in the headlines in recent times, only 7% thought it to be a major concern – with 66% saying they favored the introduction of safer and more legal means for migrants.
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