Trust in government fell nine points to 43 percent internationally, according to 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer. The result shows clearly that citizens around the world have little faith in the government’s ability to do what needs to be done in the wake of political and economic upheaval.
A total of 25 countries were surveyed. In 17, less than half of respondents think the government will do what’s right. In a dozen, including France, China, and Japan, trust in government fell more than 10 points. And across the broader swath of the population, almost half say they don’t trust the government to tell the truth.
“What we saw around the world was that government didn’t step up and do its job,” Ben Boyd, Edelman‘s global chair of the corporate practice, told us this morning. In the U.S. Boyd said the “inaction and friction between Congress and the President” was a big problem.
Distrust overall has surged around the world, with more countries now being listed as “distrusters” and fewer being listed as “trusters.” Among those on the distrust list are Spain, France, and Germany (as the E.U. continues to grapple with how to handle its economic turmoil) and Japan, which saw levels of trust in NGOs, media, and government fall dramatically after the earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Businesses and CEOs also continued to show weak levels of trust, with trust in business falling around the world to 53 percent and trust in CEOs falling to 38 percent. However, Boyd says there are opportunities for businesses to build trust.
“What we see is an opportunity for business to transcend and earn the license to lead,” he told us. This is especially true given the attributes for trust that respondents hightlighted, including listening to customer feedback, producing quality products, and treating employees well.
“Those things are all within a company’s control,” Boyd added. “It doesn’t take regulation or force to transcend this moment in time.”
And (shock!) media saw an uptick in trust. The Barometer points to the diversification of media, including social and online media, as one big reason.
But the big recipients of global trust are “people like me,” which was up 22 points. And, after coming in last in credibility in years past, fellow employees have moved up the list.
“It’s a recognition of our shared plight,” said Boyd, who told us this is something you can see evidenced in the Arab Spring movements and recent protests in Russia. This level of trust he says indicates a sense of “No one else understands what I’m going through.”
For more info about the Trust Barometer, check out the SlideShare above and Edelman’s webpage dedicated to the results.
As a side note, Edelman landed at number eight on Ad Age‘s Agency A-List. The article highlights the firm’s growth (10.6 percent in the U.S. for 2011, 17.1 percent around the world), its roster of clients, which recently added Volkswagen and Groupon, and growth in digital and crisis. Take a look inside Edelman with this episode of Mediabistro.TV’s Cubes from last fall.