Why is democracy better than military rule

How countries around the world see democracy, military rule and other political systems

This text has been translated from English into German.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 38 countries last spring gives cause for both optimism and concern about the future of democracy around the world. In all the countries surveyed, more than half of the respondents said that representative democracy was a very or rather good form of government for their country. But the poll also found openness, to varying degrees, to some non-democratic systems of government.

The following interactive function can be used to compare opinions about political systems in the individual countries surveyed. This is followed by six research results that the center considers to be particularly conspicuous.

The study led to the following six key findings:

1 About nine in ten respondents in Sweden (92%) think that representative democracy is a good form of government for their country. This is the highest proportion of all the countries covered by the study. The majority of respondents in Sweden (57%) also think that direct democracy - in which the people, and unelected MPs, vote directly on fundamental issues - is a good form of government. People in Sweden are also among the most likely to be satisfied with the way democracy works in their country: around eight in ten people in Sweden (79%) agree, as do in India and Tanzania.

2Germans are overwhelmingly against government by the military or by a strong head of government. More than nine in ten of those surveyed (95%) are against military government or government by a strong head of government who can make decisions without interference from parliament or the courts (93%). Even among those questioned with a right-wing ideological orientation or a lower level of education - two groups that in other countries express more support for a military government or an autocratic government - there is little support for these two forms of government in Germany. Only 13% of Germans who support a right-wing ideology believe that a political system with an uncontrolled head of government is a good form of government and only 4% of the less educated consider a military government to be a good form of government.

3 Of all the countries examined, the people in Vietnam are most inclined to support a military government. Seven in ten Vietnamese believe that military government is a good form of government. However, a larger majority of the Vietnamese population (87%) support representative democracy, while another large majority (73%) support direct democracy and 67% support a system in which professionals, rather than unelected representatives, decide what they believe to be is best for the country. Of the five forms of government examined in the study, only one form in Vietnam - government by a strong head of government without intervention by parliament or courts - receives more rejection (47%) than support (42%).

4In India, support for a strong head of government without scrutiny by parliament or courts is strongest. While 55% of the Indian population consider government by a strong head of government to be good, this form of government is less popular than direct democracy (which 76% of respondents see positively), representative democracy (75%) and government by experts (65%) %).

5Only 6% of the Mexican population are satisfied with the way democracy works in their country. This is the lowest proportion of all the countries surveyed. The median for all countries examined is 46%. Around nine in ten Mexicans (93%) say they are not happy with the way their democracy works.

Despite their pessimism about democracy in practice, the majority of the Mexican population still consider both direct and representative democracy to be good forms of government (62% and 58%, respectively). Roughly half (53%) support a government by experts, at the same time the majority of the Mexican population (67%) oppose a government by a strong head of government. A military government is opposed by the majority of Mexicans (52% versus 42% supporters).

6In Tanzania, trust in the government is greatest. Around nine in ten people in Tanzania (89%) trust the government to do what is right for their country, with 48% saying they have “a lot” of trust. Overall, the median for “a lot” of trust that the government is doing the right thing for the country is only 14%. And in 10 countries - Chile, Spain, Peru, France, Brazil, Lebanon, Mexico, South Korea, Greece, and Italy - only 5% or less of respondents have that much confidence in their government.