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Erosion of Confidence in Thirty European Democracies

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

The deficit of confidence is attested by a wealth of empirical data. The analysis deals with some nine institutions, political parties, discredit of politicians, the tandem of judges and journalists in denouncing the wrongdoings, the decreasing mistrust between nations as a compensatory trend of mistrust within nations. The countries are ranked according to the level of mistrust, which permeates all social strata. Corruption is an ubiquitous phenomenon in Europe, with few exceptions. Two illustrative emblematic cases are compared; Britain and Italy. In spite of the widespread feeling of mistrust, the legitimacy of democracy remains unchallenged. What types of citizens are needed in advanced democracies? Ignorant, credulous, believers in myths or well informed rationally distrustful citizens? Today democracy is permanently under the supervision of the public, as attested by surveys conducted periodically.


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