Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new BBC World Service
global poll suggests that dissatisfaction with free market capitalism is
widespread, with an average of only 11% across 27 countries saying that it
works well and that greater regulation is not a good idea.
In only two countries do more than one in five feel that capitalism works
well as it stands, according to the poll – the United States (25%) and
The most common view is that free market capitalism has problems that can
be addressed through regulation and reform – a view held by an average of
51% of more than 29,000 people polled by GlobeScan/PIPA.
An average of 23% feel that capitalism is fatally flawed, and a new
economic system is needed – including 43% in France, 38% in Mexico, 35% in
Brazil and 31% in Ukraine.
Furthermore, majorities would like their government to be more active in
owning or directly controlling their country's major industries in 15 of
the 27 countries.
This view is particularly widely held in countries of the former Soviet
states of Russia (77%) and Ukraine (75%), but also Brazil (64%), Indonesia
(65%), and France (57%).
Majorities support governments distributing wealth more evenly in 22 of
the 27 countries – on average two out of three (67%) across all countries.
In 17 of the 27 countries most want to see government doing more to
regulate business – on average 56%.
The poll also asked whether the break-up of the Soviet Union was a good
thing or not.
While an average of 54% polled say it was a good thing, this is the
majority view in only 15 of the countries polled. An average of 22% say it
was mainly a bad thing, while 24% do not know.
Among former Warsaw Pact countries, most Russians (61%) and Ukrainians
(54%) believe the break-up of the Soviet Union was a bad thing. In
contrast, four in five Poles (80%) and nearly two-thirds of Czechs feel the
disintegration of the USSR was a good thing (63%).
The results are drawn from a survey of 29,033 adult citizens across 27
countries, conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling
firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes
(PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between 19 June and 13 October 2009.
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller says: "It appears that the fall of the
Berlin Wall in 1989 may not have been the crushing victory for free-market
capitalism that it seemed at the time – particularly after the events of
the last 12 months."
Steven Kull of PIPA says: "Some features of socialism, such as government
efforts to equalise wealth, continue to appeal to many people around the
Europeans say they feel the disintegration of the USSR was a good thing,
with very large majorities in Germany (79%), the UK (76%), and France (74%)
feeling this way.
The strongest consensus is in the US, where 81% say the end of the Soviet
Union was mainly a good thing. Major developed nations like Australia (73%)
and Canada (73%) also hold the same view.
Outside the developed West the consensus is much less strong.
Seven in 10 Egyptians (69%) say the disintegration of the Soviet Union was
mainly a bad thing. Views are divided in India, Kenya, and Indonesia as to
whether it was a good or a bad thing, with many also saying they do not
Despite sharing a similar perspective on many key issues, French and
Germans disagree sharply when it comes to free market capitalism.
In France, 47% feel that its problems can be solved by regulation and
reform while nearly as many think that it has fatal flaws (43%). In
Germany, however, there is very little support (8%) for a different
economic system, with nearly three in four (74%) feeling that free market
capitalism's problems can be addressed by regulation and reform.
Latin Americans are particularly enthusiastic about a more active role for
government in running the economy, with around nine in 10 supporting more
redistribution of wealth in Mexico (92%), Chile (91%), and Brazil (89%).
Support for redistributing wealth more evenly is lowest in Turkey (9%) –
but those who do not support a greater role for government in this area are
also in the majority in India (60%), Pakistan (66%), Poland (61%), and the
The proportions wanting to see government more active in regulating
business are highest in Brazil (87%), Chile (84%), France (76%), Spain
(73%), China (71%), and Russia (68%).
Only in Turkey (71%) does a majority think their government should do less
to regulate business.
However, there is more widespread opposition elsewhere, including the
Philippines (47% oppose), Pakistan (36%), Nigeria (32%) and India (29%).
The direct ownership or control of industries by government is generally
more controversial, with large numbers opposed to it in not only the US
(52%) but also Germany (50%), Turkey (71%), and the Philippines (54%).
Notes to Editors
In total 29,033 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa
Rica, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy,
Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Poland,
Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States
of America were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between 19 June
and 13 October, 2009.
Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by GlobeScan and its
research partners in each country.
In nine of the 27 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas.
The margin of error per country ranges from +/-2.2 to 3.5 per cent, 19
times out of 20.
Detailed Country Findings from the poll are available in a PDF on the
right-hand side of this page.
BBC World Service Publicity
Ruth Casals, Coordinator
European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)