Authoritarian leaders are seen as far more trustworthy than politicians in more openly democratic countries across the emerging world, according to data compiled by the World Economic Forum.
Leaders in Singapore, the Gulf states and Rwanda are rated as having the highest ethical standards in the emerging markets, closely followed by their Chinese and central Asian counterparts.
In contrast, politicians in democracies such as Brazil, Paraguay, Nigeria, Mexico and Romania are seen as exhibiting the lowest ethical standards.
“It does look counterintuitive,” says Thierry Geiger, head of analytics and quantitative research at the WEF, which has polled local and expatriate business communities in 138 countries on the issue since 2007 as part of its annual Global Competitiveness Report.
One of the biggest losers in the WEF’s “trust in politicians” ranking over this period has been Tunisia, widely regarded as the sole success story of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Its politicians were ranked as the 15th most trustworthy in the world in 2010, before the overthrow of President Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali. Under democratic rule, the country has fallen to 63rd.
Other countries that saw sharp falls in the ranking include the democracies of South Africa, Barbados, South Korea, Iceland, Cyprus and Spain.
Overall, among the 20 emerging market countries rated as having the most trustworthy politicians in the 2016 survey, 13 are rated as “not free” by Freedom House, a US government-funded non-governmental organisation, with three classed as partly free and just four classed as free.
Among the 20 emerging markets whose politicians are seen as having the lowest ethical standards, not one is classed by Freedom House as not free, with six free and 14 partly free.
That is from Steve Johnson at the FT.