Quarter of people say capitalism fatally flawed

Sun Nov 8, 2009 7:06pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article
[-] Text [+]

LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly a quarter of people across 27 countries worldwide believe free market capitalism is fatally flawed, according to a poll published on Monday to mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The fall of the Wall, which separated communist East Germany from capitalist West Germany for nearly 30 years, was seen as a pivotal moment in the collapse of the communist bloc and a triumph for the free market system.

The survey, carried out by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service, found an average of just 11 percent of the more than 29,000 people surveyed between June 19 and October 13 believed capitalism worked well and did not think greater regulation was needed.

On average, 23 percent of people felt capitalism was fatally flawed and a new economic system was needed, although they did not specify which alternative they favored. Around half said the problems with capitalism could be addressed through regulation and reform.

The United States and Pakistan were the only two countries where more than one in five felt capitalism worked well as it stands.

"It appears that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 may not have been the crushing victory for free-market capitalism that it seemed at the time," said Doug Miller, GlobeScan chairman. "Particularly after the events of the last 12 months."

The global economic crisis, which has hit many former communist eastern European countries hard, has prompted many people to question the merits of the capitalist approach.

The survey showed some features of socialism, such as equalizing wealth, continued to appeal to many. In 22 of the countries, a majority of people supported the idea of governments distributing wealth more evenly.

In 15 countries a majority said they would like their government to be more active in owning or directly controlling their country's major industries -- a view particularly widely held in the former Soviet states of Russia and Ukraine.

Among former Warsaw Pact countries, the majority of Russians and Ukrainians said the break up of the Soviet Union was a bad thing. By contrast four in five Poles and nearly two-thirds of Czechs felt the disintegration of the USSR was a good thing.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by David Stamp)