Sat, Nov 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

People worldwide have no faith in leaders: poll


The world is becoming a much more dangerous place led by politicians who are too incompetent, dishonest and not trustworthy to deal with the challenges, according to an ambitious survey of global opinion released on Thursday.

In a massive vote of no-confidence in political elites worldwide, the poll of 50,000 people in more than 60 countries found that almost two out of three people considered their leaders to be dishonest while just over half saw them as unethical.

Hong Kong residents trust business leaders less than anyone else in Asia, with more than six out of 10 considering them dishonest, according to the survey.

While 61 percent of Hong Kong respondents distrusted their political leaders, 63 percent said they believed their business leaders were dishonest.

Sixty-one percent of people in Indonesia and 57 percent of people in Taiwan said they distrusted business leaders.

When it comes to political leaders, however, South Koreans are the most distrustful, with 85 percent considering their political leaders to be dishonest.

Second and third places for distrust of politicians were Indonesia with 84 percent and Japan with 73 percent.

The survey found that people in Taiwan are the most pessimistic in Asia about the future, with 59 percent believing economic prosperity will dwindle for the next generation.

That figure compared to 54 percent in Japan, 38 percent of people in the Philippines and 37 percent in Hong Kong.

People in western Europe and the Middle East were particularly gloomy about the prospects for their children, believing they faced less safe and less prosperous lives, offering an apparent thumbs-down to the Bush administration's declared mission of spreading liberty, democracy and prosperity by toppling regimes such as the Taliban and former president Saddam Hussein.

The annual survey claiming to represent the views of 1.2 billion people was conducted last summer by Gallup International for the World Economic Forum, based in Davos, Switzerland.

Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the forum, described the results as a wake-up call for leaders.

"The findings of this comprehensive, global survey send a strong message to the world's leaders. People around the world expect and demand a lot more from their leaders than they receive. They want leaders who are capable of courageous and long-term decisions, acting in the best interests of a global citizenry," he said.

Worldwide, 63 percent of respondents said their political leaders were dishonest, 60 percent said they had too much power, and 52 percent said they were unethical.

Distrust of politicians was higher among those in Latin America, Asia and Africa than Europe or North America.

Characterizing the results as depressing and grim reading for political leaders everywhere, the forum noted that Europeans and the U.S. public appeared more tolerant of politicians' failings than people elsewhere. But Europeans are much more anxious about the future, with Germany, in particular, alarmed at the prospect of eroding wealth and growing insecurity.

The survey described Germany as the most pessimistic country in the world and one of the most critical of its political and business elites. Three out of four Germans, for example, had little confidence in their political leaders while in the Netherlands, the figure was one in 10.

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