What a chart!
The OECD prepared the chart. In this link to the OECD, you will find more information about trust in government.
But let me discuss the chart.
The chart shows Switzerland is at the top. You probably know Switzerland is a direct democracy. I Believe this has a lot to do with Switzerland being at the to of the chart.
One could say direct democracy is: “Control by the people of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary”. If the people control what the government does, and if they see, decade after decade, how government actions reflect the will of the people, it is logical for the people to trust the government and, incredibly, in politicians too!
I suspect that another chart, reflecting the level of trust of the government in the people, would look fairly similar… Would you not like to know to what degree your politicians, and top bureaucrats, trust you and your fellow citizens? Would they respond honestly to the survey?
Direct democracy gives the Swiss people the power to stop laws, to propose new laws and to change the constitution, etc. In this way, the will of the Swiss people prevails over the will of the government. The Swiss government has learned to govern for the people and with the people.
I believe the high level of trust Swiss citizens have in their government, over 80%, is one of the most important effects of direct democracy.
I do not think the Swiss are more trusting of government by nature than the people of other lands or cultures. It can not be the culture because Switzerland is a multicultural nation (although their concept of “multicultural” has little to do with what “multicultural” means in representative democracies). The Swiss trust their government because they know the government does what the people want. The Swiss practice, better than anyone else so far, (except the ancient Greeks) “government by the people for the people”.
If you live in a representative democracy YOU KNOW it is not like that; you elect a representative government and, once the election is over, it is “hasta la vista!” (“See you at the next election!”). In representative democracies, from election to election, the people have no control over the government.
Notice in the chart how Switzerland is almost 10 points above the second-ranked country, Luxembourg, and over 10 ahead of the third one, Norway.
To give you an idea of what such difference means, just think of what a crushing defeat it would be in any democracy to lose an election by 10 points.
The next several countries in the chart, all recognized as among the best in the World in many areas; low levels of corruption, political stability, social services, etc., are about 20 points below Switzerland. The group includes the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and Germany.
Turkey comes right behind. Unfortunately, Turkey is far from a solid representative democracy. For that reason, I am not very interested in the Turkish model of trust in government, even if it outranked Switzerland.
It may also surprise you to see how Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Australia, and Austria are further behind.
Even further down are the UK, France, and the United States. The three rank between 40 and 50 points behind Switzerland!. This is shocking because the three have contributed the most to the adoption of representative democracy in the modern World. In fact, in several ways, the Swiss base their democracy in American ideas (whose core originated in England). Swiss democracy also owes to the French.
Italy and Greece are at about 60 and 75 points below Switzerland. This is extraordinary; the earlier Italians, the Romans, made very important contributions to democracy, rule of law, etc.
It is interesting to note that Italy shares a border with Switzerland and many Swiss are Swiss-Italian.
Greece is geographically not far from Switzerland either. The situation of the Greeks is beyond extraordinary; more than 2500 years after their ancestors invented democracy, this nation lays in a sorry state, and not only by its low level of trust in government. Greece demonstrates how democracy can unravel.
The same thing could happen to the Swiss. It is as if democracy is the “politically non-natural state of humans”; even peoples blessed with the values and intelligence to have democracy can lose them, and democracy too.
Italy and Greece make it obvious that heritage, geographical proximity, even cultural proximity, modern communications, travel, trade, etc., do not contribute decisively to the ability to assimilate direct democracy.
If it is important for you, for your family and friends, to have trust in the government of your country, pushing for direct democracy is a good way to start.
The Swiss had to push hard for it too; it did not happen because of the great Swiss chocolate, the Swiss cheese, or by contemplating the spectacular Swiss Alps. Their politicians did not like direct democracy, most of your politicians don’t either. They don’t because they will have less power.
Tomorrow I will show a practical example of how the Swiss people are at the controls of their country. The example will show how you and your fellow citizens can also be at the controls.