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Democracy: Belgians are increasingly ready to accept a single leader

Are Belgians more likely to trust a single leader at the head of the country? That’s the question asked by the Kantar polling institute with RTBF and La Libre in a survey about the Belgians and their vision of democracy.

Like last year, this poll, proposed by polling institute Kantar in collaboration with RTBF and La Libre, aims to be a barometer of Belgian society and its confidence in current democracy. And as in 2021, some numbers are challenging.

First of all, it must be remembered that this is an opinion poll and that it does not reflect the opinion of the entire population. Thus, 1,101 people from a representative sample of the Belgian population were polled between 10 and 17 October 2022, and the margin of error is 3.1% around the observed percentage. 16 questions were asked about politics, democracy, the Belgian state and other social issues.

We start with the first proposal: “Our society would be better governed if power were concentrated in the hands of a single leader”. They are now 39.5% to agree with this statement, a slight increase of almost 2% from 2021.

Do you want to delete the current system?

However, the nuance is this: A single leader does not mean a dictator. A single leader can for example be a president of the republic as in France. Furthermore, in the sub-questions asked, only 4% want a dictator, but one young person under 35 in ten agrees with the idea of ​​being under a dictatorial regime.

Nearly six in 10 respondents (57.9%) believe the current democratic system should be scrapped and replaced, and more than one in 10 (12.6%) say it should be replaced with a more authoritarian system. A statement that questions our current democratic system.

There are also clear differences between Flanders on the one hand and Wallonia and Brussels on the other. In the south, people say they are more in favor of the tools of direct democracy (participatory assembly, referendum, etc.), while people on the other side of the linguistic border tend to support a coalition of several political parties to lead the country, such as c is currently the case.

The local level is still in the lead

We realize in this study that the local level is the most popular among the respondents. With regard to the mandates that inspire them with confidence, the people interviewed highlight the mayor’s role in particular. 39.3% of Belgians believe that he or she best meets their needs and expectations. But this confidence is eroding: This percentage was 44.4% in 2021.

When asked whether they are ready to get involved as citizens in political leadership at a certain level, more than one in two Belgians (54.1%) accept a municipal role compared to 4 Belgians in 10 for the region (40.7 %), and an even lower score at the federal level (38.9%).

Finally, it should be noted that less than every second resident of Brussels explains that they do not yet know who they will vote for in 2024, the year when people will vote at all levels of power.

Trust in the police, judiciary and healthcare

The Belgians were also asked about their perception of the police, the judiciary and the world of health. Seven out of ten Belgians (70.9%) say they agree that the state and the current health system improve their standard of living, a suggestion slightly lower than in 2021 (73.2%).

On the other hand, the police and the judiciary are supported less. Almost every second Belgian (53.2%) says they are protected by the police and the justice system in Belgium, a score lower than in 2021 (56.4%).

Finally, 79% of respondents believe that discrimination linked to gender, sex or origin should be punished more severely than today, a trend more marked in Brussels and Wallonia than in Flanders, and more marked for women than for men.

■ The explanations of Gregory Ienco in 12:30 p.m

Photo: Belga/Hatim Kaghat

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