An Essential Research poll out today asks whether, in general, governments make decisions that favour corporate interests or favour the interests of voters. 60% say that governments favour corporate interests, and only 9% think that voters interests are favoured.
Only last month, however, another Essential Research survey came up with results that seem rather in tension with this. Asking about the attributes of the political parties, only 29% thought that the Liberals were too close to the ‘big corporate and financial interests’, and just 15% believed that of Labor. So many voters seem to believe that governments in general favour corporate interests, despite the two possible governing parties not generally being viewed as too close to those interests.
What’s more, 50% of voters thought that Labor ‘will promise to do anything to win votes’ – including ignoring corporate interests? – and 36% though the Liberal were also willing to promise anything to get votes.
When asked about politicians in general the public tends to resort to lazy cliches without worrying too much whether or not they are consistent with each other. Politicians are too poll driven, and they don’t listen to the voters enough. They favour big interests, and they will do anything to win over voters.
Though there are still contradictory views about political parties, the more specific the question the more other sorts of information than stereotypes come into play. Their own partisan loyalties, for example, or specific examples (or non-examples) of the attributes in question.
When asked about individual politicians, views tend to improve still more. I’ve noted before that named politicians always get higher trustworthy ratings than politicians in general, even politicians like John Howard who were continually accused of being economical with the truth.
In practice, the Australian public isn’t really very cynical about politicians. If anything, it has a naive faith that politicians and government can fix their problems.