12 Countries That Hate Their Government Most

October 17, 2014 by 247alex

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Europeans went in May to the polls to vote for their representatives to the European Parliament. The results were surprising, as parties in the far right and skeptics of the European Union grew in popularity, picking up seats in the political organization. If anything, the vote was a testament to how unhappy people were with the status quo.

In many countries, lawmakers and their governments are quite unpopular. U.S. President Barack Obama’s approval rating sank to 42% in October from over 65% when he was elected into office, according to Gallup. However, Obama still looks exceptionally popular in contrast to some governments’ approval ratings. The government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for instance, had the world’s lowest approval rating, at just 8%. Based on Gallup’s study “Global States of Mind 2014″ released at the Meridian Global Leadership Summit, these are the countries that hate their government most.

Click here to see the 12 countries that hate their governments the most

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Ambassador Stuart Holliday, president and CEO of the Meridian International Center, a global leadership center based in Washington D.C., said that people’s perception of their own economic future plays a major role in approval ratings. For poorly-rated countries, “the common denominator is really the gap between the human potential — the level of education and employability — and where people see the opportunity to build a life for themselves.”

This gap, in many ways, is reflected in unemployment rates. Last year, each of the three nations with the lowest approval ratings — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, and Spain — had annualized unemployment rates of more than 26%, among the highest in the world. Three other nations — Bulgaria, Jamaica, and Portugal — respectively had unemployment rates of 13.0%, 15.3% and 16.2%. By contrast, since 1948, the United States has not had an unemployment rate above 10.8% in any month.

A number of the countries with the lowest government approval ratings are highly-developed nations — such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece — in which the economy has languished in recent years. According to Holliday, in many of these countries, residents “have looked at the state as the ultimate backstop on their society’s performance.” People, in turn, can become disillusioned with their leadership when they realize “there’s a gap between what the government can do, and what is needed.”

For many countries in Eastern Europe, Holliday noted, perceptions of capitalism’s success may influence approval ratings. “Capitalism, or western private market economics, as [a] system that can provide for broad well-being has been no longer necessarily a given.”

Perception of corruption can also play a role in shaping residents’ approval of their government. In 10 of the 12 nations with the lowest governmental approval ratings, more than 80% of those polled believed that government corruption was widespread in 2013. Further, 89% of Spaniards surveyed felt this way, the eighth highest share of any country in the world. Residents of Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina felt even stronger. Ninety-one percent of those polled in each of those countries said corruption was commonplace.

Based on the Gallup study “Global States of Mind 2014,” 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 12 countries in which 20% or fewer respondents approved of their governments. In addition, we also reviewed Gallup data on perceptions of corruption, perceptions of foreign leadership, and confidence in the financial system by country. Figures for inflation, debt, and unemployment are from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and are as of 2013 unless otherwise noted.

These are the 12 countries that hate their governments most.

12. Spain
> Pct. approving of government: 20% (tied-ninth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 89% (8th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 26.1% (4th highest)

Just 20% of Spanish residents surveyed by Gallup approved of their government, tied with three other nations as the ninth-lowest proportion in the world. However, disapproval of leadership is hardly limited to Spain’s own elected officials. Just 27% of Spaniards approved of EU leadership in 2013. Additionally, the wealthy, populous, and highly self-governed region of Catalonia has had a surge in interest in independence from Spain. Several issues may contribute to the dissatisfaction of Spaniards with authority, including the belief of 89% of people surveyed that corruption in the country is widespread — among the most globally. Spain’s unemployment rate of 26% in 2013, among the world’s highest, may may have also bred mistrust in the Spanish government’s ability to help the people.

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11. Portugal
> Pct. approving of government: 20% (tied-ninth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 86% (tied-17th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 16.2% (11th highest)

Portugal’s economy has struggled in recent years. An unemployment rate of 16.2% last year, high levels of government debt, and several consecutive years of shrinking GDP, have all been problems in the country. The country required emergency financial assistance from the EU and IMF in 2011, and it only recently exited the bailout program. However, soon thereafter, one of Portugal’s largest banks, Banco Espirito Santo, had to be bailed out by the government amid a financial collapse involving complex transactions by its parent that have raised allegations of fraud. Just 31% of Portuguese respondents approved of EU leadership last year, and just 29% approved of the leadership of Germany — often considered the dominant power in the current European political climate.

10. Jamaica
> Pct. approving of government: 20% (tied-ninth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 86% (tied-17th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 15.3% (16th highest)

Financial hardship and economic instability in Jamaica have contributed to the nation’s abysmal government approval rating. Nearly 60% of Jamaican survey respondents told Gallup they did not have enough money for food in the previous 12 months, and more than 15% of the workforce was unemployed last year, both among the higher rates reviewed. Not only was it hard to find a job, but Jamaica has also had one of the world’s highest inflation rates — consumer prices are projected to rise nearly 9% in 2014. However, according to Brian Wynter, Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, the national economy is weathering inflationary shocks exceptionally well. Despite this, the vast majority of Jamaican citizens did not trust their leadership. Last year, 86% of respondents said they believed corruption was common throughout the government.

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9. Costa Rica
> Pct. approving of government: 20% (tied-ninth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 84% (24th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 8.1% (44th highest)

Compared with other countries in Central America, Costa Rica is policitally stable and has a relatively strong economy. In 2012, the country’s life expectancy was nearly 80 years, one of the higher life expectancies globally. Also, inflation has been in check with consumer prices projected to rise 3.4% this year. Yet, Costa Ricans were not satisfied with their government. Just 20% of residents approved of the government in 2013. Costa Rica has become known as a transit corridor for South American cocaine. The country has also struggled with corruption among government officials. Eighty-four percent of Costa Ricans believed government corruption was widespread last year, one of the higher proportions globally.

8. Romania
> Pct. approving of government: 18% (tied-fifth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 77% (46th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 7.3% (53rd highest)

Romania is yet another country to institute austerity measures after a bailout led by the EU, IMF, and World Bank in 2009. Romania’s government fell in 2012 in a backlash against the unpopular austerity measures. Against such a backdrop, the current Romanian government’s 18% approval rating looks somewhat disconcerting. Despite mistrusting their government, nearly 50% of Romanians had a positive view of EU leadership last year, more than residents in larger European countries.. Additionally, 77% of respondents said they believed government corruption was widespread. While this was a high percentage, it was far lower than in other nations with low governmental approval ratings.

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7. Peru
> Pct. approving of government: 18% (tied-fifth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 86% (tied-17th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 7.5% (50th highest)

The Peruvian government has made exceptional efforts in recent years to meet its peoples’ needs. For example, the government created in 2011 a ministry devoted to Development and Social Inclusion to combat poverty. The program has had some effect, but last year, more than 40% of Peruvians still said there were times in the last 12 months when they could not afford enough food, one of the higher rates globally. Like in other countries with the lowest government approval, a majority of Peruvians — 86% — believed corruption was widespread in their government. Perhaps as a result, less than one in five residents approved of their government.

6. Pakistan
> Pct. approving of government: 18% (tied-fifth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 81% (34th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 6.2% (68th highest)

Pakistan has struggled with public sector corruption, intermittent military rule, and weak governmental authority in tribal regions that border Afghanistan. All these factors may help explain why just 18% of Pakistanis approved of their government last year. However, perhaps the most noticeable problem with the nation’s government was that many residents did not even bother to pay their taxes. According to Reuters, just one in roughly 200 people filed an income tax return. Pakistans’ The Times on Sunday also noted that just 840,000 people filed returns with the country’s Federal Board of Revenue last year and just 3.2 million people had a national tax number. By comparison, Pakistan has a population of over 180 million.

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5. Moldova
> Pct. approving of government: 18% (tied-fifth highest)
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 86% (tied-17th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 5.1% (81st highest)

Like many other former Soviet republics, Moldova has struggled with civil unrest and government corruption for decades. In 2013, 86% of country residents told Gallup they believed corruption was widespread in their government, one of the highest rates in the world. The job market, however, seems to be in relatively good shape. The unemployment rate was just 5.1% in 2013, better than in many European nations. Despite the relative availability of jobs, the country is still quite poor. And 36% of survey respondents said they did not have enough money to buy food, among the higher proportions in the world.

4. Czech Republic
> Pct. approving of government: 15%
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 87% (15th highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 7.0% (60th highest)

Just 15% of Czechs approved of their government, and 87% believed corruption was a common occurrence among state officials, both among the worst rates in the world. Unlike many other former communist nations, the Czech Republic’s economy developed relatively fast. The country joined NATO in 1999. In 2004, the Czech Republic also became a member of the EU, and in 2007 it became a member of the Schengen area, which allows free movement between member countries in Europe. However, many residents are unhappy with EU leadership as well, with just 30% approving as of last year.

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3. Greece
> Pct. approving of government: 14%
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 91% (tied-2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 27.3% (2nd highest)

Greece had the second highest debt to GDP ratio in the world last year, at over 175%. In 2012, the country defaulted on its bonds, triggering massive losses for investors. But while both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded Greece because said they see improvement in its fiscal position and economic outlook, residents have had to deal with the austerity measures that were the conditions of the country’s bailouts. Austerity measures in Greece have increased the appeal of fringe left- and right-wing political groups, both of which performed well in recent elections. This year, just 14% of Greeks approved of their leaders. Just 23% and 29% approved of the leadership of the EU and Germany, respectively, while just 19% of Greeks had confidence in financial institutions.

2. Bulgaria
> Pct. approving of government: 13%
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 79% (42nd highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 13.0% (22nd highest)

Since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, Bulgaria has struggled to make the transition to a market economy. While the country has initiated some reform — enough to be admitted to the EU in 2007 — poor living conditions and political unrest continued to plague the country. In 2013, nearly 80% of Bulgarians surveyed believed government corruption was widespread. Last year,, protests erupted after reports became widespread that collusion between the government and foreign-owned conglomerates caused a surge in fuel prices. And while former Bulgarian president Boiko Borisov resigned amid the protests, his party won enough votes to retain control of parliament this year, narrowing the possibility that Bulgarians’ attitudes toward their government will improve.

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1. Bosnia and Herzegovina
> Pct. approving of government: 8%
> Pct. believe gov’t corruption widespread: 91% (tied-2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate (2013): 27.0% (3rd highest)

Bosnia and Herzegovina had the world’s lowest government approval rating, with only 8% of respondents stating that they approved of their own leadership. Additionally, 91% of people surveyed stated they believed corruption was widespread in government, tied for the second highest percentage in the world. Unemployment was also a problem in the country, as 27% of the workforce did not have a job last year, one of the worst rates globally. Deep ethnic tensions remain in the country, even nearly two decades after the Bosnian War, with government authorities, media entities, and even schools often split up along ethnic lines.