From Latin America to Asia -- and just about everywhere in-between -- citizens say elected officials don’t care about the people. In 31 of the 33 developing or emerging countries surveyed in a recent Pew Research Center poll, a vast majority of people say government leaders either don’t pay attention or don’t care about their opinions.
About 67 percent of people in the Middle East and 65 percent of people in Africa say the government doesn’t pay attention to their opinions, while 55 percent of Asians agree. The rate is even higher in Eastern Europe, where about 75 percent of those surveyed say government officials aren’t paying attention.
But even that rate is no match for Latin America, where 77 percent of respondents say their political opinions hold little to no importance for politicians, compared with just 13 percent who say government officials do care and 5 percent who volunteer that neither or both are true.
Driving Latin America’s high numbers is its most populous country, Brazil. Nine out of 10 Brazilians say government leaders don’t care. The country just saw a presidential election in which more than 112 million people, or 74 percent of eligible voters, turned out to vote and re-elect President Dilma Rousseff. According to Pew’s findings, however, high levels of involvement in the political process do not necessarily signify political engagement.
“Most people vote, but they participate in relatively few other political activities,” Pew said in a statement about the findings:
“[The] survey finds that many people in these nations remain relatively disconnected from politics. Although most vote in elections, few take part in other forms of political participation. For example, across 33 nations surveyed, a median of just 15 percent say they have participated in a protest and only 9 percent have signed a petition. Indeed, large numbers say they would never engage in the various forms of participation included in the poll.”
Brazil was closely followed by Peru, where 86 percent of those polled said politicians don’t care, and Colombia, where 84 percent said the same thing. Ukraine, in the midst of widespread internal turmoil, reported the lowest levels of political efficacy with 83 percent of poll respondents saying government officials do not care what people think.
The poll found that despite a majority believing that government leaders were apathetic about their concerns, a median of 78 percent of respondents in all countries surveyed said they had voted at some point. That was more than double the amount of any other political activity tested.