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Germans have lost confidence in social institutions

Germans are wondering whether a civil servant is still a friend and a helper. In fact, the majority of Germans are doubting the value of many other social institutions too.

Published: January 12, 2019, 8:40 am

    According to the current RTL/n-tv trend barometer, social institutions in Germany have suffered a massive loss of trust among citizens. The worst affected is trust in the Pope and in the German army, the Bundeswehr.

    The poll carried out by the opinion research institute Forsa and commissioned by RTL/n-tv, was conducted at the beginning of the year. A total of 2 515 people were interviewed.

    They were asked to give their views on institutions such as the police, schools, press, doctors, churches, radio or television.

    Accordingly, as in the previous year, the police with 78 percent enjoys the most trust, just ahead of the universities and doctors, each with 77 percent.

    However, the trust in the police shrank by 5 percent, while trust in universities by 3 percent and in medical professionals by 1 percent.

    Some 66 percent of respondents trust their own employers, but it seems that things are not going as smoothly as they have been in previous years: employers have lost trust by as much as 9 percent.

    The Pope as well as the Catholic Church are increasingly viewed very negatively. After the many abuses involving Catholics and other scandals in the Vatican, the approval ratings for Pope Francis have shrunk by 20 percent over the previous year to only 34 percent currently.

    And inside the church itself, things do not look much rosier: a total of 9 percent lost faith in the largest Christian denomination, ranking at only 18 percent approval – the same low level as the banks.

    The Evangelical Church – compared to the Catholic faith – is doing slightly better with 38 percent (-10 percent). The Central Council of Jews, with 34 percent (-3 percent) is also much more trusted than the Central Council of Muslims with 9 percent (-4 percent).

    While the police are highly popular with Germans despite a small decline, the Bundeswehr looks quite different. It may be due to the leadership style of Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the many negative reports about ​​”bankruptcies, bad luck and mishaps” and other issues, but the survey is unfortunately not clear about the causes.

    Confidence in Germany’s own army has sank by 13 percent compared to the previous year and trust in the Bundeswehr has thus shifted from the upper third of Germany’s popularity scale to the lower end of the middle with 40 percent.

    Even the media with 41 percent (+1 percent) is ahead of the Bundeswehr. The head of Forsa, Prof Manfred Güllner, expressed concern over this development: “For over a decade, we asked Germans how much trust they have in the relevant social institutions. We have never measured such widespread confidence erosion as this year over this period.”


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