One of the conclusions that may be drawn from the ‘Voice of the People’ survey, commissioned by the World Economic Forum is that political leaders are generally in lower esteem worldwide than their business counterparts. Respondents thought that their political leaders, more than their business leaders, are oversensitive to public opinion, hold too much power, behave unethically, are dishonest, incompetent and bend to pressure from people more powerful than they. While western Europeans were found to be generally more tolerant of their politicians than people in some other regions, a majority of respondents agree that their politicians “respond to pressure from people more powerful than they” (58%) and that “they have too much power and responsibility” (56%).

People were also asked about their feelings about the current and future safety and economic prosperity of the world. Fifty-five per cent of western Europeans said that future generations would live in a less safe world, down from 64% last year. Twenty-seven per cent of Central and Eastern Europeans felt the same way, down from 30% in 2003. Germany was found to be the most pessimistic nation of the two regions with 63 per cent predicting a less safe world for the future. The survey has revealed that women worldwide are slightly more pessimistic than men, with 46% thinking that the world will be less safe, as opposed to 43% of men.

When asked about the world’s future economic prosperity, western Europeans are far more pessimistic than the global average. Almost half (49%) of the respondents said that economic prosperity would decrease for future generations, while 22 % predicted an increase in wealth. Again, Germany proved to be the most pessimistic nation, with 74% of respondents from this country believing that future inhabitants would have to face a more difficult economic situation. On the other hand, Central and Eastern Europe appears to be one of the most optimistic regions with 49% of the people expecting more prosperity and only 16% predicting an economic decline.

The survey, conducted by Gallup International, polled more than 50,000 people from 60 countries from all over the world.