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Home News YouGov polling on trust in centre-left politics

YouGov polling on trust in centre-left parties and politics

11 May 2011
YouGov polling on trust in centre-left parties and politics

New polling commissioned by Policy Network, the leading international progressive thinktank, on voters’ attitudes towards centre-left politics.

The results of unique cross-comparative research across UK, US, Sweden and Germany reveal the magnitude of the political challenge facing Labour and other centre-left parties as they bid to be credible contenders for power. They reveal the extent to which:

(a)    Concerns about levels of taxation divide voters

(b)    People are extremely pessimistic about the reality of equal opportunity and social mobility (it’s who you know that gets you on in life)

(c)    Voters have little faith in the state to correct market injustices

The results will be presented and discussed at a major political gathering of over 250 policymakers and experts from across the centre-left in Oslo on 12-13 May. Political leaders to attend include Ed Miliband (UK), Jens Stoltenberg (Norway), José Luis Zapatero (Spain), George Papandreou (Greece), Boris Tadic (Serbia), Eamon Gilmore (Ireland),  Håkan Juholt (Sweden), Caroline Gennez, (Belgium sp-a), Job Cohen (The Netherlands), Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Denmark), Victor Ponta (Romania).

A detailed Policy Network analysis of these results (including tables and charts) and the YouGov data files are available in the attachment below. The full conference agenda is available here.

This polling and research forms the introduction to the Policy Network publication "Priorities for a new political economy: Memos to the left" , which will be presented at the conference.

Executive summary of polling results

1.    Concerns about levels of taxation divide voters

•    Significant numbers of voters believe centre-left governments tax too much with too little public benefit…
This view is expressed by 48% in Germany, 46% in the US, 39% in the UK, and 34% in Sweden.

•    …but the centre-left’s own voters strongly believe that public spending brings tangible public benefits
Among centre-left voters, only 12% in the US, 9% in the UK, and 6% in Sweden share the view that when in government centre-left governments tax too much with too little public benefit. Yet in Germany, even 23% of centre-left voters agree with it.

•    The task of persuading other voters of the merits of centre-left public spending is daunting.
In the US, 89% of Republican voters agree with the statement that centre-left expenditure is too high relative to outcomes for the public at large. In the UK, even 30% of supposedly “progressive” Lib Dem voters agree and 68% of Conservative voters agree. In Germany, 66% of people who voted for the ruling CDU party and even 22% of people who supported the increasingly popular left-of-centre Green party also subscribe to this view.

•    However, there would be support among voters of other parties for increased taxation if it were guaranteed to improve benefits and services.
In the UK 51% of Liberal Democrat voters and 32% of Conservative voters would be willing to pay higher taxes. In Germany 47 % of CDU voters and 41% of FDP voters would be willing. In Sweden 37% of Moderate party voters would be and in the US even 17% of Republican voters would be willing to pay increased taxes subject to this guarantee.


2.    People are extremely pessimistic about the reality of equal opportunity and social mobility (it’s who you know that gets you on in life)

•    The survey reveals the sheer extent of pessimism about the reality of equal opportunity. In the UK 62%, in the US 46%, in Sweden 56%, and in Germany 54% agree that who you know is usually more important for getting on in life than hard work and playing by the rules

•    Pessimism about the current value of a university education is clear in the UK as well as in Germany and the US, with Sweden offering a stark contrast.
79% in the UK, 67% in Germany and 57% in the US believe that today a university degree often raises career expectations that cannot be fulfilled. In Sweden, only 28% share this view.


3.    Voters have little faith in the state to correct market injustices

•    Voters are very worried by concentrations of corporate power.
85% in the UK, 83% in Germany, 69% in the US, and 60% in Sweden agree with the view that big companies these days care only about profits – not about the wider community or environment.

•    But concerns about market power are not offset by a resounding faith in the state. People have a very low estimation of government’s ability to stand up to vested interests. Numbers citing the ability of government to stand up to vested interests as an advantage of state action are fairly low, ranging from a mere 15% in the US, 16% in the UK and 21% in Germany, to a more respectable but still worrying 27% in Sweden. Correspondingly, considerable numbers of voters count the hijacking of the state by vested interests as a major disadvantage of state action: Germany 48%, US  47%, UK 38%, Sweden 17% .

•    Voters value the key liberal tenets of the market economy. Competition is cited by voters as a major advantage of the market economy in the UK (50%), the US (45%), Sweden (52%), and Germany (45%). The wide choice of goods and services that the market economy provides is prioritised by 44% of voters in the UK, US and Sweden, and 53% in Germany.

•    But people’s faith in the market to deliver social goods – principally jobs and shared wealth – is at a low ebb. Only between 15% (Germany) and 35% (US) cite as an advantage of the market economy that it is the best way to provide jobs and opportunities to individuals. In addition, the market’s harsh impact on vulnerable individuals is cited by 41% in Sweden, 29% in the UK and Germany, and 20% in the US as a major disadvantage of the market economy.

NOTE TO EDITORS


Fieldwork was undertaken by YouGov between 18th and 22nd March 2011. Total sample size was 1063 British, 1086 US, 1010 Swedish and 1184 German adults.

Policy Network is an international thinktank dedicated to promoting progressive policies and the renewal of social democracy.

For press enquiries please contact Michael McTernan at mmcternan@policy-network.net, or call 020 7340 2209 (Mob: 07807062032). Sign-up to Policy Network’s newsletter or follow on Twitter (#PG11) and Facebook for updates and conference reporting.

Travelling journalists who want to attend the conference can register here.

The leaders will hold a press meeting on Friday, 13 May at 11.00 – 11.30, immediately after plenary session 3.

Web streaming
The entire Progressive Governance Conference will be web streamed live here.
       

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