Beyond Populism; mixed bag for Indians: Ipsos Survey

A new survey to capture elements beyond populism finds that Indians are optimistic about the future of India, have confidence in most macro institutions, are quite rigid about their leaders and leadership style, but largely feel the system is broken.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Ipsos UK
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Conducted online among adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Spain, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey and the United States, the survey shows polarized views by different markets.

Country in Decline?

Only 3 in 10 Indians (31%) feel that India is in decline. Though there is a 9 per cent increase from 22% in 2016.  But the good news is that India is amongst the least pessimistic markets – is placed 20th among 24 markets covered. Brazil, South Africa and Argentina are the top 3 markets that are most pessimistic about the future of their country. And the markets lowest on pessimism and decline are Chile, Germany, Canada and South Korea (ranked 24th, 23th, 22rd and 21st).     

What seems not right – System is broken

The survey shows that 3 in 5 Indians (58%) think our economy is rigged to favour the rich and powerful, though there has been a 5% decline from 63%, in 2016. Likewise, 3 in 5 Indians (59%) grudge that traditional parties and politicians are neglecting the common man. Though the negative sentiment has lowered by 5%, from 64% in 2016.

The survey also shows grave concerns around law and order – half of Indians polled (54%) are dissatisfied with the performance of the authorities in controlling and punishing crime and expect more strict laws and measures from them.

Parijat Chakraborty, executive director, Ipsos Public Affairs, Ipsos India is not surprised with the findings: “On one hand there is high level of optimism for the future, at the same time there is systemic failure in politicians not delivering on expectations and people expect law to increase its stranglehold in punishing the guilty and handing out justice.”

 Populist Style Leadership for Indians    

The survey sends out a strong message to politicians who are aspiring to be role models for Indians. 3 in 5 Indians (62%) favour outspoken politicians who can speak their mind regardless of consequences, these attributes hold sway despite the 4% drop from 66% in 2016. And most Indians (68%) like their leader to be strong, who is willing to break the rules – there is a 3% surge from 65% in 2016.

At the same time the survey sends out cautionary signals - half of Indians polled see risk in electing political parties or leaders with radical ideas for change, who have not been elected earlier. Though only 2 in 5 Indians (38%) think that it is best to stick with political parties and leaders who have been in power before. There are mixed signals.

“Indian voters have voted out tried and tested parties providing opportunities to rival parties for new governments and to infuse new ways of governance and that’s the upside of a democracy,” says Mr. Chakraborty.

The survey further delved into the psyche of Indians to find out how some of the established institutions are perceived.

Perception of Institutions

Only 1 in four (27%) Indians say they have no confidence in International Institutions. A 2% decline from 29% in 2016. Underscores that international spells quality for Indians.

 26% Indians say they have no confidence in Banks. This is a tad worrying as there has been an 8% surge from 18% in 2016. Which can be attributed to dissonance in the banking sector due to the large-scale lending and non-repayment.

29% Indians have no confidence in Justice system including the courts. There is a 5% drop from 34% in 2016. Confidence levels have increased.

38% Indians have no confidence in their governmentThere is a 3% surge from 35% in 2016. It’s still not bad news. The good news is that it is among the lowest in all of 24 markets. Malaysia is the lowest at 33% - it validates the comeback and re-election of Mahathir Mohammad – and that Malaysians have least grouse with their government. On the contrary, Spain (85%), Brazil (81%), Mexico (80%) and Peru (79%) have least confidence in their governments. 

Half of Indians polled (51%) have no confidence in their MediaAnd this confidence has eroded a lot since 2016 – by a significant 12% - from 39% in 2016.

Majority of Indians polled (67%) have no confidence in their Political Parties. And there has been an 8% increase from 59% in 2016.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Ipsos UK

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