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Mexicans Are Now Less Dissatisfied with How Democracy Works

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A new Pew Research Center report says Mexicans are now less dissatisfied with how democracy works in Mexico.

Pew surveyed adults in 27 countries last year to determine how satisfied they were with the way democracy is working in their country. Although Mexico led all countries in dissatisfaction with democracy in 2018, it saw a big jump in satisfaction from a similar poll in 2017.

Pew says several factors are strongly linked to perceptions of how well democracy works, including the strength of the country’s economy, attitudes toward elected officials and political corruption.

Of all 27 countries, the people of Mexico still have the most negative views of how well democracy is working. Eighty-five percent say they are not satisfied, but that was an improvement over the 93 percent who voiced the same concern in 2017. The 27-country median in last year’s study was 51 percent not satisfied with how democracy is working in their country.

Greece was nearly as negative as Mexico, with 84 percent saying they are not satisfied. Brazil and Spain are also over 80 percent. The rest of the top 10 are: Tunisia, Italy, South Africa, Argentina, Nigeria, and the United States. In the U.S., 58 percent of American adults say they are not satisfied with how democracy works there.

Between 2017 and 2018, dissatisfaction with democracy grew in 14 or the 27 countries studied, with the largest increases occurring in India, Germany and Brazil. About two-thirds of Brazilian adults had a negative view in 2017, but dissatisfaction grew to 83 percent by last year.

Pew reports that people’s views of the country’s economy are strongly linked to their views of democracy. The research firm says that in nine of the 12 countries most dissatisfied with democracy, at least two-thirds say their country’s economic situation is bad.

Attitudes towards elected officials also play a major role in shaping opinions. The study finds that in the top 12 most dissatisfied countries people say elected officials do not care about what ordinary people think.

Political corruption is also a major influencing factor affecting perceptions. Respondents in seven of the top 12 most dissatisfied countries say the statement “most politicians are corrupt” describes their country very well.

Pew also says that “skepticism in an elections’ ability to change things” also contributes to negative attitudes toward democracy.

Which of the 27 countries surveyed have the highest opinion of how democracy works in their countries? Sweden tops the list with just 30 percent saying they hold negative opinions. The Philippines, Indonesia, India, the Netherlands, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Israel and Germany also have low levels of dissatisfaction with democracy.