No. 5




Trust in State Institutions in Estonia

14 June 2002


RiTo No. 5, 2002

  • Raivo Vetik

    Professor of Comparative Politics, Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society

A public survey done in autumn 2001 by the International and Social Studies Institute at the order of the Riigikogu Chancellery shows the reasons for low political trust in links to other societal problems.

It showed that 36% of respondents trust the parliament, trust in parties has fallen to 20%, that 13% feel Estonian society is lawful and just and that two-thirds of respondents desire a strong leader who would “clean house.”

The comparison of Estonia to other Eastern European countries shows that its position in terms of political trust and people’s attitude towards democratic ideals is good rather than bad. In Romania, only 18% trust parliament, in the Czech Republic, 22% and in Hungary, 25%. Satisfaction with the development of democracy is the highest in Estonia among nine Eastern European countries.

The societal reasons for lack of political trust are tied to low confidence in society. Only a third of respondents believe that other people can be trusted, which inevitably affects the political and economic trust indices. Stereotypes also reduce confidence, a fact that can be explained with the two following questions. The statement “most Estonian laws were passed with all people in mind” was supported by 42% of respondents, but for the question “what do you think the parliament considers in making decisions”, only 6% picked general national interest. The study also showed that only a third of respondents could name all of the parties in the governing coalition.

Full article in Estonian