News / Europe

Europeans Lose Trust in Governments

Civil servants continues a second day of work stoppages and held a protest rally in central Athens, Greece, Aug. 2, 2013.
Civil servants continues a second day of work stoppages and held a protest rally in central Athens, Greece, Aug. 2, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
— Years into an economic crisis that has rocked the eurozone, European citizens are losing trust in their governments. A recent survey found that trust in political parties is at an all-time low with up to 90 percent in some countries saying politicians are affected by corruption. The survey comes as a number of top political figures in Italy, Spain, and France face allegations of fraud and tax evasion.

Across Europe, citizens are losing trust in their governments.

A recent study carried out by the corruption watchdog Transparency International surveyed people in 107 countries. Only 23 percent said their governments are making effective efforts to beat corruption.

In Europe, the figures were much lower. In Spain, eight percent felt like corruption was being addressed; in Italy, 13 percent; in Greece and Portugal, just one percent.

Valentina Rigamonti of Transparency International  said the crisis of confidence was deepest in the countries hardest hit by the economic crisis -- arguably the ones most in need of citizens’ trust.

“The global corruption barometer has showed that corruption is very strong in Southern Europe, the countries that are hit by the financial crisis,” said Rigamonti.

Trust in political parties themselves has also gone down. In Greece, one of the eurozone’s major economic worries, 9 in 10 people surveyed said they think political parties are affected by corruption.

Rigamonti said that while the deteriorating trust was most noticeable in economic crisis zones, corruption was a problem in every European country, even Nordic nations, which typically have a good reputation for transparency.

“No one of the countries in Europe is clean. All of them are involved in corruption, at different levels with different problems,” said Rigamonti.

Transparency International’s research comes as politicians across Europe are being hit with accusations of corruption.

On Thursday, a prison sentence was upheld for Italy’s former prime minister and current senator, Silvio Berlusconi, for tax fraud.

A day earlier, Spain’s prime minister was forced to defend himself before parliament over corruption allegations, after he was accused of receiving under-the-table cash payments from construction magnates - an accusation he denies.

Last month, the prime minister of the Czech Republic resigned following a corruption scandal involving one of his aides, as did the entire government of Luxembourg - again because of corruption allegations.

William Bartlett is a Europe analyst at the London School of Economics.

He said the economic recession in Europe has not necessarily made corruption worse. Government corruption, he said, has been a problem across Europe for decades.

But he said that when money was tight, the problem became more apparent.

“I think in recession, in a way, strangely enough, although there are less opportunities for corruption because the pie is shrinking and there is less to go around, nevertheless at that time people are much more sensitive to it, so it's much more likely to come to public attention,” said Bartlett.

He said the loss of citizens' trust in their governments was a major problem for European countries as they tried to implement austerity measures.

Bulgaria has recently seen weeks of public protest over alleged government corruption.  In Spain, the allegations over the prime minister’s links to corruption also brought people onto the streets in protest.

“Countries such as Greece, France, Italy, where unemployment is increasing, living standards are falling - whenever these issues crop up, people think, why should we be taking the costs of all of these policies when politicians are not taking part, too?,” said Bartlett.

According to the Transparency International survey, citizens of 51 nations see political parties as their countries' most corrupt institution. And more than half of those surveyed said they feel government is run by special interests.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid