Building trust and reinforcing democracy

Public satisfaction with the way democracies are functioning has decreased since the mid-1990s and has been challenged further by the COVID-19 crisis.

Low levels of trust in government
rising inequalities, declining social mobility, disenfranchisement, growing anxiety with rapid societal change, as well as cross-border challenges, are fuelling political dissatisfaction in many countries. In 2021, less than half of citizens trusted their government. The decrease in public trust hinders policy making and governments’ ability to address social and economic challenges, thus further increasing dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracies.

A polarised society
Recent years in many OECD countries have been characterised by low voter turnout, greater political polarisation and a growing number of people dissociating themselves from traditional democratic processes, and citizens expressing their discontent through new forms of protest.

Reinforcing democracy
The OECD is committed to the values of democracy, the rule of law, and the defence of human rights. At the OECD Meeting of the Council at Ministerial Level, 2021, Members expressed “the need to guard against threats to democracy”.


To help governments reinforce democracy and build public trust, our work in this area looks at: