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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More