A poll conducted in 25 countries showed a frustrated view of much of the world’s population about their political institutions – and Brazilians have a negative perception above the global average.
More than two-thirds (69%) of a thousand Brazilians interviewed claim that the country is in decline, the highest percentage observed among all countries participating in the “Broken-System Sentiment in 2021” survey conducted by Ipsos.
This is 12 percentage points higher than the (already high) global average of 57% of people believed to live in degraded countries. Rates are also high in Chile, Argentina and South Africa, all of which are 68%.
In addition, 72% of Brazilians said they think the country’s society is “bankrupt”, an indicator similar to that of Hungary and only surpassed by South Africa (74%).
The global average, in this case, is 56%.
Helio Gastaldi, a spokesman for Ipsos, says it is important that leadership in arranging such negative emotions leads to discomfort in Brazil.
“I hope the research will fulfill the role of giving a jolt,” Gastaldi tells BBC News Brasil. “Criticism (of political institutions) is widespread all over the world, but not as intense as in Brazil.”
This sentiment has already been demonstrated in previous Ipsos surveys on the same topic, in 2016 and 2019.
“It is a feeling that continues and coincides with what we have observed in other studies and surveys of clients we have conducted, in which today a feeling of disillusionment and insecurity is seen in Brazil. It conveys an idea of great concern for the future,” continues Gastaldi.
Populism and ‘leaders willing to break the rules’
Overall, the survey presents a picture of people’s disconnection and disillusionment with their institutions: on average, 71% of survey respondents globally agree with the statement “the economy is manipulated in favor of the rich and powerful.”
And 68% agree with the idea that traditional parties and politicians don’t care about “people like me”.
And the more it feels to live under a “failed regime,” the more support is expressed for populist or anti-elite models, Ipsos points out.
In Brazil, for example, 74% of respondents said they agreed with the statement “Brazil needs a strong leader to take back the country of the rich and powerful,” ten percentage points higher than the world average.
A smaller but equally high percentage of Brazilians (61%) stated that “to reform the country we need a strong leader, willing to break the rules”. The global average here is 44%.
“This reinforces the populist rhetoric that institutions are useless and that someone from the outside has to come to fix them, a cure we already know doesn’t work,” says Helio Gastaldi.
Instead of pinning hopes on a leader who will defeat the system and miraculously solve problems, Gastaldi continues, the most productive thing is to strengthen institutions and increase popular participation in them.
An important caveat at this point, Gastaldi says, is that support for a “strong leader who breaks the rules” is greater among the elderly (over 50) than among the young, “who appear to be more willing (to rely on) institutional solutions”.
In any case, he analyzes, “It is a high and troubling indicator, reflecting a certain nostalgia for the (military in Brazil) dictatorship, a vague and incorrect view of this period as a period of more or less corruption. In need of intergenerational dialogue.”
Also according to the survey, 82% of Brazilians believe that the political and economic elite do not care about people who work hard. Three-quarters of respondents (76%) believe that the main division of society in Brazil is between ordinary citizens and the political and economic elite.
“People realize that whoever can or has the responsibility to do something (for the betterment of the country) is doing it for their own benefit,” Gastaldi continues.
“There are many negative indicators showing that Brazil is well above the world average, which indicates that the population feels unsupported.”
The only point in the survey where Brazilians are below the international average has to do with immigration issues.
Here, 53% agree with the statement “when jobs are scarce, employers should prioritize citizens over immigrants,” versus 57% of the global average.
And only 26% believe that Brazil would be stronger if it stopped accepting immigrants, compared to 38% in the rest of the world.
The Ipsos survey was conducted online with 19,000 respondents between the ages of 16 and 74, between March and April, in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Japan, Spain, Hungary, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Argentina, Chile and Colombia and Brazil.
According to Ipsos, the samples represent the demographics of countries – although they reflect, in part (including Brazil), the opinion of a predominantly urban, prosperous population with greater access to education.