What can improve democracy?

Report by the Pew Research Center: “…surveys have long found that people in many countries are dissatisfied with their democracy and want major changes to their political systems – and this year is no exception. But high and growing rates of discontent certainly raise the question: What do people think could fix things?

A graphic showing that People in most countries surveyed suggest changes to politicians will improve democracy

We set out to answer this by asking more than 30,000 respondents in 24 countries an open-ended question: “What do you think would help improve the way democracy in your country is working?” While the second- and third-most mentioned priorities vary greatly, across most countries surveyed, there is one clear top answer: Democracy can be improved with better or different politicians.

People want politicians who are more responsive to their needs and who are more competent and honest, among other factors. People also focus on questions of descriptive representation – the importance of having politicians with certain characteristics such as a specific race, religion or gender.

Respondents also think citizens can improve their own democracy. Across most of the 24 countries surveyed, issues of public participation and of different behavior from the people themselves are a top-five priority.

Other topics that come up regularly include:

  • Economic reform, especially reforms that will enhance job creation.
  • Government reform, including implementing term limits, adjusting the balance of power between institutions and other factors.

We explore these topics and the others we coded in the following chapters:

  • Politicians, changing leadership and political parties (Chapter 1)
  • Government reform, special interests and the media (Chapter 2)
  • Economic and policy changes (Chapter 3)
  • Citizen behavior and individual rights and equality (Chapter 4)
  • Electoral reform and direct democracy (Chapter 5)
  • Rule of law, safety and the judicial system (Chapter 6)…(More)”.

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