Eurofound’s recent report, “Societal change and trust in institutions ” aims to “broaden the understanding of trends in trust in institutions”. The study is based on data from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and Eurobarometer, and compares trust in institutions before, during, and after the great recession.
One of the several topics the analysis focuses upon is trust in political institutions, defined “as trust in national parliament and trust in national government”.
Though more information is available also on trust in non-political state institutions (police, legal system) and non-state institutions (media) starting from a general review of low trust in political institutions, we discuss the data and views on the subject of ‘critical citizenship’. All data discussed in this article refer either to 2011 or to 2016.
Trust in institutions: who’s at the top? Who’s at the bottom?
The following heatmap shows different levels of trust in political institutions across Europe in 2016. More in detail, the map depicts the share of people who can be considered to have low trust in the political institutions of their country (low trust is defined through a 1 to 10 scale: people scoring 4 or lower are considered to have low trust).
Greece tops the ranking of countries having the highest share of people not trusting their own political institutions, followed by Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Spain and Romania (all rates over 50 percent). At the other end of the spectrum, we find the Nordic countries, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, and the Netherlands. Finland tops the ranking with only 11 percent of its population having low trust in their political institutions.
Turning to a slightly more dynamic perspective, the following chart portrays the change of the same measure between 2011 and 2016.
Remarkably, an overwhelming majority of countries are characterised by a positive dynamic, i.e. diminishing rates of people with low trust