West’s democratic deficit prompts concern

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Citizens are seriously concerned about the state of democracy in their home countries, yet continue to back democracy in principle and support actions to defend democracy abroad, specifically in Ukraine, within certain limits, writes John Halpin, co-editor of The Liberal Patriot

Overall, 41 percent of citizens say that democracy is working either fairly badly or very badly in their country, with noticeable variations, according to the most comprehensive multi-national survey to date examining public attitudes about democratic delivery and the war in Ukraine. Roughly 60-70 percent of respondents in Sweden, Germany, Finland, and Norway believe that democracy is working well in their home countries compared to just 40 percent of those in the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain, France, and the United States, notes the survey, conducted by Global Progress and YouGov in early May 2022 with more than 10,000 respondents in 9 western countries.

Respondents were asked whether their government does mostly a good job or mostly a bad job in upholding a range of democratic goals. The results are disconcerting outside of the Nordic countries in the survey (and Germany in some instances), Halpin adds:

  • Less than half of the citizens in the United Kingdom, Poland, Spain, France, and the United States believe their governments are doing a good job of “holding regular elections that are open to all and conducted fairly and accurately.”
  • Less than one third of citizens in these same 5 countries believe their governments are doing a good job “protecting individual rights, such as freedom of speech and worship.”
  • And a mere one fifth of citizens in these same nations feel that their governments are doing a good job “ensuring legal equality for all people regardless of income or wealth.”
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Western citizens strongly back Ukraine in the war against Russia—with qualifications, Halpin notes. Nearly two thirds of citizens on average in the 9 countries say that their country is either giving the right amount of support or should do more to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression. Support for Ukraine is highest in Finland (77 percent), Sweden (71 percent), and the U.K. (71 percent), and lower in Poland (53 percent) and notably in the United States (52 percent).


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