Israelis are more satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country than are voters in the United States, and less supportive of the notion of military rule than the general public in the US, Britain and France, according to a major survey released Monday.
The Pew Research Center survey on global attitudes to government also found that in general barely half of those polled in 38 countries trust their governments to do the right thing, and that Israelis (51%) and Americans (also 51%) trust their elected officials a little more than the British (49%) and significantly more than the French (just 20%).
Data from 41,953 respondents revealed that most citizens are unhappy with their democratic governments. The survey was conducted from February 16 to May 8, 2017. Overall, “a deepening anxiety about the future of democracy around the world has spread over the past few years,” the report said.
In Israel, 52 percent said they are satisfied with the way democracy is working while 47% are not. In the US, less than half (46%) are satisfied and a majority of 51% said they are not. Britain’s figures matched those of Israel while across the Channel in France, 65% said they are not satisfied with their democracy and just 34% said they are.
Canadians were top with 70% satisfied and just 30% unhappy with their democracy. Figures for Western European countries showed on average citizens split half-half on their satisfaction with their systems.
“In all countries, pro-democracy attitudes coexist, to varying degrees, with openness to nondemocratic forms of governance, including rule by experts, a strong leader or the military,” the report said.
A quarter of Israelis back the idea of autocracy with power in the hands of a single ruler, similar to the UK (26%) but more than in the US where only 22% support the idea. In France, only 12% of those surveyed support autocracy.
However, in France, and the US, some 17% said military rule is a good idea, compared to 15% in the UK and just 10% in Israel.
More than half of Israelis (60%) are in favor of citizens voting directly on important national issues instead of leaving the decision in the hands of their democratically elected officials, Pew also found. Significantly more Arab Israelis (83%) support holding referendums than Jewish Israelis (54%) the report noted.
“People in wealthier nations and in those that have more fully democratic systems tend to be more committed to representative democracy. And in many nations, people with less education, those who are on the ideological right and those who are dissatisfied with the way democracy is currently working in their country are more willing to consider nondemocratic alternatives,” Pew said.
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