Almost Half the Number of Young Europeans Reject Democracy: Survey

Josh Lowe
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Just over half of young Europeans think democracy is the best form of government, and in France, Poland and Italy only a minority back it, a cross-continental survey reveals.

The European Youth Study, commissioned by Germany’s TUI Foundation and conducted by the pollster YouGov, polled 6,000 people aged between 16 and 26 in seven European Union countries – France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.K.

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It found that overall, 52 percent of young Europeans regard democracy as the best way to run a country. It is least convincing to young people in France at 42 percent, Italy at 45 percent, and Poland at 42 percent.

Germany, on 62 percent, and Greece (66 percent), seen as the cradle of democracy, have the highest levels of support.

Many young people are pessimistic about their future prospects, with only about a quarter (26 percent) expecting to achieve higher living standards than their parents.

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Over half (52 percent) think their standards of living will be worse than the generations before them.

The poll reflects similar research that found young people in the Western world are turning away from democracy.

Just 57.1 percent of U.S. citizens born in the 1980s told the World Value Survey 2005-14 that it is important to them to live in a country that is governed democratically.

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In Australia, 42 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds thought democracy was “the most preferable form of government” according to a 2016 survey for the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.

The findings highlight the scale of the challenge facing liberal politicians at a time when many voters are turning toward more extreme candidates and parties.

Liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron is expected to win France’s presidential election this Sunday, but his far-right rival Marine Le Pen expects to net 40 percent of the vote, a historic high for her National Front party.  

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