When it comes to governance, countries all over the world need the same thing: high institutional trust. The amount of trust that exists in a society directly impacts how efficiently its institutions can operate. Government institutions rely on the trust of its citizens for the authority needed to properly govern a nation. When widespread mistrust spreads seeds of doubt regarding a nation’s institutions, a lack of compliance with national authority is sure to follow. There are many reasons why a society might devalue the legitimacy of its institutions, such as a history of incompetence or corruption. The less faith the citizenry places in their governments, the less duties they are able to perform. This is a cyclical process, as a lack of trust halts government action, which in turn causes questioning of its competency.
The practical implications of what governing looks like in a low trust society has been exemplified by Greece. Greece has been a historically low trust society that treats its political institutions with skepticism. The reasons for this lack of trust is its government history of political bribery and a corrupt patronage system. As a result, Greek society on the whole is largely resistant towards governance. One common expression of the lack of faith in systems of government comes in the form of severe levels of tax evasion. Since Greek society lacks trust in its state, it is certainly not incentivized to fund its government with its tax money. The end result of this lack of compliance on a national level is that the government’s ability to enact policy is capped. Even the most basic necessities required for managing a country, such as revenue, require the compliance of the general public.
This conflict was only exacerbated by the 2008 Greek economic crisis. Blame was directed at the Greek government whose fiscal policy of increased borrowing in the years prior was deemed irresponsible. As a result of this, attempts made by Greece to take steps to deal with this crisis were met with resistance by the general populace. Since the people of Greece did not have confidence in their government, they had little faith in the state’s ability to resolve the crisis.
The solution to the sort of downward spiral of mistrust and stagnation presented is increased transparency by government bodies to win back the trust of their people. This is not an easy feat by any means, but for any state to function properly, a working relationship between them and their people is a necessity.
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