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Thorbjørn Jagland: Europe’s democracies face a crisis of trust

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has urged European leaders to tackle the “crisis of trust” and the erosion of public confidence in democratic institutions across the region.

“Many Europeans perceive politicians and political parties as dishonest, as corrupt,“ Jagland told today’s (11 September) European Conference of Presidents of Parliament
Storting in Oslo, Norway.

“What we are seeing is not just a crisis of institutions, but also a crisis of values.

“People feel less and less as if their vote matters. They feel that, while they may be able to change who is in power, they are not able to affect what actions their leaders take.

“It means that Europe is faced with the possibility of an even more corrosive threat than that which is exposed by the financial crisis. A threat to our fundamental values and the moral foundations of our society.

“In most European capitals, democracy remains the only game in town. But people are starting to have doubts whether it is still a game worth playing.

“Countering these preoccupying trends is, and must remain, the key priority for our organization, and for all governments in Europe.

The Secretary General declared that the key to a successful democracy lies in confidence and closeness between politicians and the population at large.”

He said that public trust was essential to parliamentary democracy and called on MPs to ensure that their activities do not give rise to suspicion.

“Only then can trust be won back,” the Secretary General added.

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