Six in ten around the world think their society is ‘broken’
Eight in ten on average lack confidence in political parties
One in three say their country would be stronger if immigration was stopped
The survey, among online adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States also finds a majority support prioritising hiring nationals over immigrants when jobs are scarce (although views are split on ending immigration), and that people say they are more likely to support a party or political leader who promises to radically change the status quo than one who has been in power before. This is supported by new analysis from Ipsos Public Affairs that suggests that in some countries, especially in continental Europe, political discontent is strongly associated with nativist sentiment, but this is not the case everywhere.
Is there a sense of alarmism?
A majority in 17 of the 23 countries feel that ‘society is broken’ (and 58% on average), especially high in Poland, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico.
On average, 38% say that nowadays they feel a stranger in their own country, while 35% disagree. This feeling is stronger in Turkey, South Africa and Brazil, and among Western countries most prevalent in Italy, Belgium and the US.
On average, 45% agree that terrorism should be stopped at all costs even if that means ignoring people’s civil rights (28% disagree). Countries with recent experience of terrorism such as Turkey, France, India, Israel and Belgium are particularly likely to support this approach, as is Serbia.
Confidence in institutions
On average, eight in ten (81%) across the 23 countries lack confidence in political parties (a majority in every country), and 71% lack confidence in their government. In both cases, confidence is particularly low in Spain and Mexico.
Two in three (68%) lack confidence in the media, rising to at least three-quarters in Hungary, Serbia, Spain, Mexico, Great Britain and Israel.
61% on average lack confidence in big companies, and 59% lack confidence in banks. Confidence in banks is especially low in Spain and Italy – and also Germany.
Six in ten (59%) lack confidence in the judicial system/the courts. There are big differences by country – over eight in ten in Argentina, Peru and Mexico lack confidence in their judicial system.
Half (52%) say they lack confidence in international institutions – particularly so in continental Europe (Spain, France, Italy, Serbia and Belgium), and also in Israel.
On average, a majority (56%) think that employers should prioritise hiring nationals over immigrants when jobs are scarce, especially in Serbia, Hungary, Turkey and Israel. Over four in ten (44%) also believe that their country should prioritise hiring nationals over foreigners even if that means slower job growth, rising to seven in ten in Turkey (although over half of Swedes disagree).
Having said that, there are as many concerns over immigrants’ impact on social services as on jobs (by 39% to 35%), especially in European countries.
Few support uncontrolled immigration (just 14% on average), while views are split on stopping immigration. A third (34%) think their country would be stronger if immigration was stopped (higher in Turkey, Israel and Hungary), but a similar proportion (36%) disagree (highest in Sweden and Canada).
Are populist positions vote-winners?
A number of so-called “populist” positions are attractive to voters. In particular, 63% on average say they would be more likely to vote for a political party or leader who ‘stands up for the common people against the elite’, and people say they are more likely to vote for a political party or leader who wants to radically change the status quo than one who has been in power before, by 44% to 18%.
However, several so-called ‘pluralist’ positions are just as popular. 67% say they would be more likely to vote for a political party or leader who listens to alternative points of view, 56% for one who is prepared to make compromises, and 52% for one who will stand up for the rights of minorities.
What does discontent mean in different countries?
New analysis from Ipsos Public Affairs also helps show that while many countries feel discontent, it is mistaken to assume the same issues matter everywhere across the world. Previous Ipsos research has demonstrated that as well as a majority thinking their system is in decline, public opinion in many countries feels that traditional political actors don’t care about people like them, that experts don’t understand their lives, and that their economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful – a mood that can be summed up as “the system is broken”. However, the local conditions associated with this unhappiness are not always the same.
As the chart below shows, in several continental European countries such as France, Italy and Hungary, there is a strong sense of political dissatisfaction, which is also associated with high levels of ‘nativist’ sentiment – a belief, for example, that immigrants take jobs and important social services away from locally-born nationals. This pattern can also be observed in Turkey. However, some other countries with equally high levels of belief that “the system is broken” have much lower nativist sentiment – such as the LATAM countries of Mexico and Peru, and also in South Korea.