Projects / Project Details
September 11, 2019 | Andrew Parkin
Confidence in Democracy and the Political System
OverviewThis report examines current levels of public support for democracy, democratic institutions and the political system in Canada and how these have evolved over the past decade. While questions abound about the commitment of publics and politicians to liberal democracy in other countries, public support in Canada has generally remained either stable or is improving.
Large majorities are satisfied with how democracy works in Canada and maintain that, despite its foibles, democracy is better than any other form of government. Most trust elections, and in recent years the level of trust in elections has been growing. Canadians are becoming more interested in politics, and fewer doubt whether governments are really that interested in what people like them think.
Finally, most Canadians have trust in one another. These trends do not undo longer-term ones, several decades in the making, which have seen citizens become less willing to defer to elites. But they do suggest that, as the 2019 federal election campaign gets underway, Canadians can have considerable confidence in themselves as a civic society.
BackgroundAs the 2019 federal election campaign gets underway, Canadians are readying themselves for a steady onslaught of public opinion polls telling them which parties, leaders and platforms are gaining in popularity, and which are falling behind. As citizens prepare to cast their votes, however, it is worth looking deeper, to take stock of how Canadians feel about their democratic system. If one party loses support, there is another ready to take its place. It’s another story altogether if democracy itself is called into question.
Some might assume that this has happened already – that we are living in an era of in which trust in democratic leaders and confidence in democratic institutions are on the decline. Certainly, there are ample examples to point to around the world of the emergence of political leaders or movements willing to challenge the norms of liberal democracy. Is Canada really any different?
This report addresses this question by examining the evolution of public support for democracy, democratic institutions and the political system in Canada over the past decade. It draws primarily on the Canadian data from the AmericasBarometer surveys, including the most recent wave conducted in July 2019. This is completed by data from the Gallup World Poll, which puts Canada in comparative perspective.
An examination of public opinion trends shows that confidence in democracy in Canada is higher than in many other western countries, and is not on the decline. This does not undo the long-term trend, several decades in the making, which has seen citizens become less and less willing to defer to elites – whether they be leaders of political parties, corporations, unions, or churches. Over the shorter term, however, confidence in democracy and democratic institutions in Canada has not been eroding.
READ THE REPORT
For more information, contact Andrew Parkin.