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A growing mistrust in democracy is causing extremism and strongman politics to flourish

Mark Triffitt writes in The Conversation (10.7.18) that public trust in government is declining in democracies around the world, particularly among young people. The author argues that democratic reform is needed to re-engage disaffected citizens with their public institutions.

'Nearly every indicator of a healthy Western democracy is failing globally. Public trust and voter engagement have declined over the past decade in established, core democracies around the world, including in the US, Europe and Australia.

'The percentage of Americans who say they “can trust the government always or most of the time” has been below 30% since 2007. A similar pattern of mistrust can be found in many democracies across Europe, as well.

'Young people, in particular, are detaching themselves in droves from active and passive participation in the formal democratic system.

'In Australia, public trust and satisfaction in democracy has fallen to record lows over the past 10 years, while a Lowy Institute survey last year found that less than half of Australian voters under the age of 44 preferred democracy over other forms of government.

'As democracy’s popularity decreases, support for alternatives, such as polarised and extreme politics and “strongman” governance, continues to rise.'

A step-by-step guide to reforming our political system

Mark Triffit writes in The Conversation (11.9.18) that, with public trust in government at an all-time low, it's time we prioritised political reform and put in place a comprehensive roadmap for effective, long-term change.

'With public trust in government already in serious decline over the last ten years, the downfall of yet another prime minister between elections underlines both the importance and urgency of making serious changes to our political system.

'The key to renewing Australia’s democratic system is to view it as our next major reform challenge, just as economic renewal was prioritised in the 1980s and ’90s.

'So far, however, the changes proposed by political commentators, academics and think tanks are largely single reforms, such as citizens’ juries to seek more public input into policy, or fixed four-year terms for federal parliament to allow more time to tackle big problems and implement complex policy.

'These fall short of matching the scope of the challenge: democratic renewal requires multi-level and multi-step change addressing interconnected issues. In short, we need a comprehensive roadmap for political reform.'

 

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