Few people in the United States or other developed nations view American democracy as an example for the rest of the world to follow, a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday shows.
“Very few in any public surveyed think American democracy is a good example for other countries to follow,” Pew’s report said. Outside the United States, a median of 17 percent said U.S. democracy set a good example for other countries to follow, while 57 percent said U.S. democracy “used to be a good example, but has not been in recent years.” An additional 23 percent said the United States has never been a good example for democracy.
Respondents in the United States were just about as negative — with 19 percent saying American democracy provided a good example. A further 72 percent said their country “used to be a good example” of a democracy for the world, but “has not been in recent years.”
People in Taiwan, Italy and Greece were the most positive about the state of American democracy; Singapore, Australia and New Zealand the least.
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The survey, which was conducted over the phone and online from Feb. 1 to May 26, came after President Trump spread the false claim that he, not President Biden, won the November election, and after a pro-Trump mob rampaged inside the U.S. Capitol. The Jan. 6 rioters trapped lawmakers and vandalized the Capitol in the worst desecration of the complex since British forces burned it in 1814.
Despite criticism of U.S. democracy overall, a median of 60 percent across 16 countries said the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its people, far higher than 8 percent who said China respects its people’s personal freedoms in the same survey.
The survey also revealed a sharp partisan divide among U.S. respondents. Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party were twice as likely as Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party to say American democracy has never been a good model for other countries to follow, Pew noted.
Globally, America’s international reputation had improved since the election of President Biden, the report said, with a median of 75 percent saying they had confidence Biden would do the right thing in world affairs, compared with the 17 percent who said the same of Trump in 2020. The survey was conducted before the United States’ chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan, during which the Taliban took control of the country.
However, the survey, which came less than a year after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, also found “widespread criticisms about the current state of civil rights in America,” Pew added. “While many say discrimination is also a serious problem in their own countries, they consistently say discrimination is worse in the U.S. than in their country.”
Ellen Francis contributed to this report.