Declining Trust in Politics and What Can be Done About it

There has been a dramatic decline in the Australian public’s trust in politics and politicians for more than a decade. While the public’s disaffection with politics has not declined to the level of some other countries, restoring faith in politics has to be a major priority. Declining public trust and its potential threat for democracy has many drivers, but can be directly related to the quality and performance of a country’s leaders and elected representatives. Democratic innovations and greater public engagement within traditional representative democracy are therefore presented as potential solutions, together with more radical alternatives.

This presentation outlines the empirical evidence for declining trust in politics, using the ANU’s Australian Election Study surveys conducted since 1987. The presentation will then consider possible ways in which public trust could be restored, ranging from the introduction of voting advice applications to changes in political institutions.

Ian McAllister and Patrick Dumont <ian.mcallister@anu.edu.au>