US is seen as a bigger threat to democracy around the world than Russia or China, new poll finds

Four years of Donald Trump dings the United States’ reputation

Clara Hill@clara_ish
Thursday 06 May 2021 18:55
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US secretary of state warns Russia over 'aggressive' acts

After four years of Donald Trump and rising political extremism in the United States, America is no longer the beacon of democracy it once was. At least according to a new poll that has found the US is perceived as a bigger threat to democracy than Russia and China.

Inequality is believed to be the biggest hindrance to democracy, but in the US, tech companies and their power is also seen as a threat.

The poll was commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation and they gathered data from 50,000 people in 53 countries.

The survey shows that democracy still gets high marks, even though people who live in democratic nations are more likely to have negative views of their government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, compared to people who live in countries with less democracy.

The outcomes of the poll might prove difficult reading for the G7 nations as they conclude their London talks as they perceive themselves to be the guardians of democratic values and those that fight more authoritarian governments.

The survey was conducted between February and April, so the results may have been stained by the reputation left by Mr Trump. The survey did, however, acknowledge that the US’ reputation was improving since Mr Trump left office.

The most astonishing takeaway was that 44 per cent of those who took part in the survey view the US as a threat to their country’s democracy. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents fear the same from China, and Russia is at 28 per cent.

In a year, the view that the United States is a threat to global democracy rose greatly. The highest increase was in Germany and China.

Respondents from Russia and China had the most negative view of the US and the supposed threat they represented, followed by European countries.

The poll showed that democracy was still important to people across the world, with 81 per cent saying so. Only 53 per cent of people said their country was democratic regardless over whether the country actually was considered as such.

Aside from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, each country polled said that inequality was a greater threat than freedom of speech crackdowns.

Chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former Nato chief and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen 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 it 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.”

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