Every year since 2018, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, spearheaded by former NATO secretary general and Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, releases its survey of the current state of democracy in cooperation with the Berlin-based data firm, Latana.
It bears noting up front that the “think tank,” besides being run by a former NATO chief, is funded by the US government, the EU and other sources, such as Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, and aligned with the Atlantic Council, a pro-NATO lobby group. Furthermore, the survey is heavily skewed towards European states.
Over 50,000 respondents, in 53 countries, sounded off on the state of democracy worldwide, and the current hot global issues. Last year, the poll revealed that 46% of those living in “free democracies” considered their governments’ restrictions on freedoms amid the Covid-19 crisis to be excessive. It also found that as the pandemic progressed, an increasing number of citizens felt that their government served a select few rather than the greater good. Washington’s influence was considered by 44% of respondents to be the biggest threat to democracy, compared to 28% who felt the same way about Moscow’s influence, and 38% about China’s.
This year, the focus has shifted to assessing views towards Russia amid the Ukraine conflict, with the poll asking whether citizens of various countries want their governments to cut economic ties with Russia as a result. Of the 52 nations whose citizens were polled, 31 had a majority of respondents who were reported to be in favor of doing so. European countries represent 20 of those, with others (such as Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the US) being close Western allies. But a glance at the responses of these same citizens of Western democracies to the question of how democratic they think their own country is, suggests deep disappointment in their own gatekeepers. Only 49% of Americans think that their country is democratic, 61% of Britons, 62% of Canadians, 44% of Greeks, 44% of Poles, 53% of Italians, 63% of Germans, 54% of Belgians, and 47% of French. By contrast, 83% of Chinese reported feeling that they live in a democracy.