Expatica news

Deep concern for capitalism 20 years after fall of Berlin Wall

London — Dissatisfaction with capitalism is widespread around the globe 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall that heralded the demise of European communism, a poll released Monday showed.

Only 11 percent of people surveyed across 27 countries thought free market capitalism is working well, while 51 percent believed its problems can be solved with more regulation and reform, the poll said.

In only the United States (25 percent) and Pakistan (21 percent), did more than one in five people agree that capitalism works well in its current form, the poll conducted for the BBC World Service said.

The survey of 29,033 adults comes after the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression and amid celebrations for the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall which abruptly ended the Cold War.

"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," said Doug Miller, chairman of polling firm GlobeScan which co-conducted the survey.

Most people (54 percent across all countries) backed the breakup of the Soviet Union, while 22 percent said it was a "bad thing" and 24 percent did not know.

Support was highest in the US (81 percent) and Western Europe, particularly Germany (79 percent), Britain (76 percent) and France (74 percent).

But support was divided among former Warsaw Pact countries. Most Russians (61 percent) and Ukrainians (54 percent) said the Soviet breakup was a "bad thing."

In contrast, four in five Poles (80 percent) and 63 percent of Czechs felt the disintegration of the USSR was a "good thing."

Conducted between June 19 and October 13, the survey was jointly carried out by the University of Maryland’s programme on international policy attitudes.

An average of 23 percent across all nations said capitalism is fatally flawed, and a new economic system is needed — including 43 percent in France, 38 percent in Mexico, 35 percent in Brazil and 31 percent in Ukraine.

And majorities in 15 out of 27 nations wanted their governments to be more active in owning or directing control of their nation’s major industries.

Support was highest in the former Soviet states of Russia (77 percent) and Ukraine (75 percent), but also in Brazil (64 percent), Indonesia (65 percent) and France (57 percent.)

Furthermore, majorities supported governments distributing wealth more evenly in 22 out of 27 countries, particularly in Central and South America. Some 92 percent backed the idea in Mexico, 91 percent in Chile and 89 percent in Brazil, the survey said.

"Some features of socialism, such as government efforts to equalise wealth, continue to appeal to many people around the world," said Steven Kull from the University of Maryland.

After the collapse of financial institutions and huge government bailouts, majorities in 17 countries wanted more government regulation of big business.

Brazil led the way on 87 percent, followed by Chile on 84 percent, France 76 percent, Spain 73 percent and China 71 percent.