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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK
Europeans 'are biggest sceptics'
By Mike Sanders
BBC News

Europeans have little faith in politicians and business people

Europeans are among the most sceptical about people in power, a global survey on attitudes to authority suggests.

Some 50,000 people in 68 countries were asked about trust, power, freedom of action and identity in the Gallup International poll commissioned by the BBC World Service.

Few Europeans trust the media and many would like to see intellectuals play a greater role, the survey found.

Germans appear most tied to their jobs while regional identity is strongest in

Portugal and Spain.

In the 23 European countries surveyed, a third of respondents said they did not trust politicians or business, religious and military leaders, rising to more than half in central and eastern Europe.

Globally, only a quarter of those in the survey held people in authority in similar disregard.

Hope of change

Journalists in particular are held in poor esteem - only one in five Europeans trusts them, if the survey, or indeed this report of it, is to be believed.

The survey suggests that Europeans are generally disinclined to give more power to those who have it.

If there is one category they think should have more influence than they do at present, it is intellectuals, and to a lesser extent, business people.

Affluence would seem to play a big part in whether people think they are in control of their own destinies.

In Britain, Denmark, Norway and Ireland, more than three quarters of those polled said they could change their own lives, but fewer than half thought so in central and eastern Europe.

Germans would appear to be the most attached to the concept of being European: the poll suggests 28% of Germans see themselves first and foremost as Europeans - twice the European average.

Selection of facts and figures from the global survey

Austrians, Luxemburgers and Icelanders are ostensibly the most proud of their nationality, with more than half saying that was most important to them.

Regional identity appears to be more prominent in Spain and Portugal.

The stereotype of the industrious German also seems to have been borne out by the survey - 11% said their employer had the most influence over their life decisions, compared to 4% in Europe as a whole.

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