A special survey conducted by the DIW Berlin’s Socio-Economic Panel, in cooperation with Infratest Sozialforschung, indicates signs of a crisis of confidence in Germany, notes DIW Berlin’s Weekly Report, No. 21/2004. Confidence in politics (i.e., the Bundestag) has been largely eroded; moreover, the level of confidence in big business and the trade unions is also low. This scenario is all the more disturbing since confidence in the private sphere continues to remain more or less intact, with levels of trust in family and friends standing at over 90%. Neighbours and colleagues, too, enjoy the trust of more than two-thirds of those surveyed.
The extremely low level of confidence in both trade unions and businesses is alarming. Only about one-fifth of those surveyed place their confidence in these two (workplace) pillars of society. In east Germany, businesses fare worse than in west Germany; in west Germany, meanwhile, trade unions face a greater crisis of confidence than in east Germany.
At approximately 20%, confidence in the Bundestag, too, is low; in east Germany, confidence in this democratic institution is more eroded than in west Germany. At 27% (across Germany), even the press—often heavily criticised in public, especially by politicians—fares better than politics. However, , at over 35%, the churches are considered even more worthy of trust (in west Germany, in fact, this figure stands at 42%).
Nevertheless, the basis for increased confidence continues to exist elsewhere, with a number of public functions central to everyday life enjoying comparatively high levels of confidence. For example, about half of those surveyed placed great confidence in schools, the education system, and courts of law. And just over 70% place their trust in the police force. Here, in fact, the share of those with absolutely no confidence is low: Only one in 20 of those surveyed declared they had absolutely no confidence in the police; among young people, confidence in the police force was found to be lower than among older people.