A new survey by a U.S.-based research project shows that people in all 19 countries polled support the principles of democracy. It also shows people in almost all of those countries say their governments should be more responsive to the will of the people. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.
Majorities of people surveyed in 19 countries by the group WorldPublicOpinion.org say they agree that the will of the people should be the basis for the authority of government.
The strongest support for this principle did not come from Western democracies. The largest percentages who said they agreed were in Ukraine, Nigeria, Turkey and Indonesia. "And here you have a clear majority in every country endorsing elections as the means for selecting leaders. On average, 84 percent endorse elections," said Steven Kull, director of the group which conducted the survey of more than 17,000 people.
On the other hand, people in 17 of the 19 countries surveyed said their governments are not responsive enough to the will of the people. People surveyed in Egypt and Nigeria were the least satisfied with their governments' responsiveness. However, 84 percent of Egyptians say they trust their government - more than any other people in the poll. China, Russia and the Palestinian Authority also ranked high on government trust. People in Western democracies trusted their governments the least.
Thomas Carothers, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has written eight books about building democracies. He questions why people in authoritarian countries show the most trust in their governments.
"Is it that people are not free to say what they think, that they trust their governments--their authoritarian character somehow gives them a paternalistic quality that people trust? And is it a good thing that people trust their government, or is it a good thing that maybe they are skeptical of their government?," he said.
Majorities in 15 of the 18 nations asked said they believe their countries are "run by a few big interests looking out for themselves." Only in China and Egypt did most people say their governments are run for the benefit of the people.
And a majority of people surveyed in each of the countries said their leaders should pay attention to public opinion polls.