Bringing the Public’s Voice into Debates about the Future of Politics

By Richard Wike

Abstract

Unhappy with the way their political systems are functioning, angry at the elites who have failed to address a mounting set of challenges, and frustrated with elected representatives they feel ignored by, citizens in many nations around the world have challenged to political status quo, catapulting – for better or worse – new parties and leaders into power. The political tumult witnessed over the past few years has highlighted a significant gap between citizens and political elites. Policymakers and international institutions like the G20 will need to address this gap if they are going to develop credible solutions to global challenges. In order to do so, a greater understanding of what average citizens think about these challenges is needed. Social science researchers may be able to contribute to this understanding through studying public opinion about key issues on the global agenda. This paper will examine surveys by Pew Research Center and other organizations that highlight the discontent so prevalent in many nations, as well as ways surveys can help give average citizens a voice in important international debates.