20 May 2013

During Budget week the media seems to give more than usual air time to politicians to express their policies, preferences and prejudices. Politicians perhaps more than most of us, consider they have the best insight on the way the world should be. Few public perception surveys would give any credence to that belief, politicians ranking among the most poorly rated occupational groups. On a world stage however one hopes that they all assertively champion our national interest ( whatever they may be). Politicians must always be conscious of how their constituency sees them…. As elections have characteristics of a popularity contest.  But does it really make any difference how we are seen in the eyes of others?

A Pew Survey published last week explored a range of attitudes within the European Union. One interesting but probably trivial assessment was of perceived national characteristics.  The survey shows that Germany is recognised as being the most trustworthy nation in the EU – except by the Greeks,  but also seen by many as the most arrogant and least compassionate.

Those surveyed seem prepared to concede that they may be less trustworthy and less compassionate that other Europeans, but it appears that only the Italians are willing to acknowledge that another national group may be less arrogant than themselves.