Democracy Perception Index 2021
The Democracy Perception Index (DPI) is the world’s largest annual study on democracy, covering more than 50 countries and representative of more than 75% of the world’s population. The DPI is conducted by Latana in collaboration with the Alliance of Democracies, to monitor attitudes towards democracy from around the world.
PRESS RELEASE - May 5, 2021
Global Poll: Despite grim views of democracies' COVID response, people around the world want more democracy
Poll also shows fear of Big Tech and economic inequality
A new poll of over 50,000 respondents from 53 countries shows people want more democracy, despite satisfaction with governments' handling of the COVID-19 pandemic falling dramatically in the democratic world.
Whereas in the spring of 2020 people in both more democratic and less democratic countries were equally satisfied with their government’s pandemic response (~70%), one year later the approval ratings have dropped down to 65% in less democratic countries, and all the way down to 51% in more democratic countries.
The Democracy Perception Index, released by Latana and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, is the fourth installment of the world’s largest annual study on democracy, representative of more than 75% of the world’s population. It was prepared for the fourth-annual Copenhagen Democracy Summit on May 10-11, which will feature speakers such as Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen, Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová, Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, Adam Schiff, Chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee and 26th US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.
The study shows that people still have faith in Democracy: 81% of people around the world say that it is important to have democracy in their country. However, only a little more than half (53%) say their country is actually democratic today - even in democracies.
- Respondents view economic inequality as the single biggest threat to democracy around the world (64%).
- About half of people (48%) in the global survey say that the power of Big Tech companies is a threat to democracy in their country, with people in the US having the largest concern of Big Tech (62%) out of all the democracies.
Biden’s Democracy Summit and the UK’s Democracies-10 initiative
- About half of people in the countries polled support the idea of an Alliance of Democracies (in the form of either Biden’s proposed Democracy Summit or the UK's D-10 initiative).
A ‘Biden effect’?
The survey offers a mixed picture for Americans with many countries still holding negative views about US influence – but there are also some early signs of a "Biden effect":
- Nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%.
- However, since last year, the perception of US influence on democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14. This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16).
- The countries still overwhelmingly negative about US influence are Russia and China, followed by European democracies.
- Around the world, about 58% of people say their country is responding well to the COVID-19 crisis. Asian countries have the highest rates of satisfaction at 75%, while Latin America and Europe have the lowest (42% and 45% respectively).
- Overall satisfaction with governments' pandemic responses has dropped dramatically since last year, from 70% to 58% globally. This drop is largest in more democratic countries (down to 51%) and in Europe (down to 45%).
- The perception that governments have done too much to limit freedoms during the pandemic has grown over the past year in almost all countries, from 45% in 2020 to 53% in 2021.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former NATO Chief and Danish Prime Minister, said:
“This poll shows that democracy is still alive in people’s hearts and minds. We now need to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people who want to see their countries become more democratic.
“The positive support for an Alliance of Democracies, whether the UK’s D10 initiative or President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, shows that people want more cooperation to push back against the autocrats. Leaders should take note of these perceptions and act upon them.”
Dr. Nico Jaspers, CEO, Latana, said:
"As we’re entering a period of profound economic, political and societal changes, democracy is more important than ever. It enables us to have a say in what we want our collective future to look like."
Countries/areas surveyed were: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam.
Methodology: The Democracy Perception Index was conducted by Latana and the Alliance of Democracies in the Spring of 2021, between February 24th and April 14th. The sample of n=53,194 online-connected respondents was drawn across 53 countries, with an average sample size of around 1,000 respondents per country. Nationally representative results were calculated based on the official distribution of age, gender and education for each country’s population, sourced from most recent and available data from Barro Lee & UNStat, and census.gov. The average margin of error across all countries sampled is (+/-) 3.2 percentage points.
The study uses Freedom House 2021 classifications to create the following categories of countries:
“Free” - labeled as “Free” by Freedom House
“Less Free” - labeled as either “Partially Free” or “Not Free” by Freedom House
The full results tables are available below:
For more information contact [email protected].