How has politics changed in our country
"The world has changed dramatically"
Interview Manuel Rybach, Global Head Public Affairs and Policy, Credit Suisse
Ian Bremmer, respondents are less interested in accelerating progress on political issues than they do on economic and social issues. What's your explanation for that?
In many democracies, especially in industrialized countries, many people have the feeling that the system no longer works: no matter what they do, no matter who they vote for, the structures still do not change, the social contract no longer applies. This sentiment has been widespread for decades, on both sides of the political spectrum, and forms the structural basis for the populism and anti-establishment sentiment we see in many democracies around the world. Call it a political malaise. Not that people don't want policies to improve: they thought change was realistic, but just nothing happened. And so many have given up.
Despite this resignation, many respondents criticized the growing polarization and want to reverse this development.
The strong political polarization developed in a relatively short time. It is possible that people therefore have the feeling that something can still be changed. Twitter, for example, has decided it will no longer allow political ads. But the result also tells me that people could give up hope here too if nothing happens and the polarization continues to accentuate.
In the US, having a say in social media is the political issue that has the most support for progress. A surprising finding in times of fake news and a “Twitter President”?
Not necessarily. Social media are still relatively new and are a technology that is particularly suitable for people who demand and expect social and political change. The problem is that social media has so far divided society more than it united it. As long as they are not able to fulfill the promise of change, that is, the improvement of everyday life, we will experience a “techlash”, that is, a backlash, as is currently being seen in the US presidential election campaign and by a number of European politicians and politician is proclaimed.
The three countries with the greatest appetite for political progress are China, Brazil and India. Why?
We may or may not agree with them, but these three countries have very strong political leaders and they are making a difference. Xi Jinping is China's strongest head of state since Mao, and the fight against corruption has been an important aspect of his political agenda. In India, Narendra Modi won a big election last year. He is enormously popular with Hindus because of his nationalism, less so with the Muslim population. A similar situation prevails in Brazil with Jair Bolsonaro and his struggle against the enrichment of the elites. People feel that he is changing the political system in a way that no other Brazilian politician has done in the last few decades.
At the other end of the spectrum are Australia, Switzerland, and the United States. Why are people in these countries skeptical of progress?
There has been a lot of political change in Australia, with four heads of government in six years, which undermines belief in the system. Not much has changed in the United States since Trump was elected, he has not kept most of his promises - there is still no wall between the US and Mexico, for example. The Edelman Trust Index showed that general approval and trust rates for organizations and institutions in the US are at very low levels. Switzerland's position may come as a surprise, because the political system there really listens to the people, the country is not governed by one but by different parties. It may well be that people in Switzerland are generally satisfied and do not have the feeling that a lot of change has to take place.
Of all the results, what surprised you the most?
That the Chinese are particularly enthusiastic about change - although that doesn't necessarily mean more democracy. And that Americans are the least enthusiastic. When the average Chinese believes in the Chinese dream more than the average American believes in the American dream, one suddenly realizes that the world has changed dramatically. Historically, the United States has not defended its power primarily through military means, but through better ideas.
If you could stop or speed up a particular political trend in your own country, what would it be?
I think the biggest problem in the United States is that particular interests are increasingly gaining a political voice. This development began decades ago and has intensified in recent years. That has to stop. We live in a time of economic growth that may now be slowing - I fear things will get worse.
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