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'Germans trust police more than bankers'

Alexander Pearson
January 2, 2018

A new survey has shed light on the levels of trust Germans have in non-political institutions. Many believe in cops, professors and physicians, but are far more skeptical of insurance companies and managers.

Police badge
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Seeger

Germans have a lot of trust in the police and doctors, but strongly distrust public relations firms and Islam, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The "2017 RTL/n-tv-Trendbarometer" survey by public opinion research firm forsa on behalf of the RTL media group asked more than 2,300 respondents about their trust in 26 non-political institutions.

Trust is highest for the police (83 percent), universities (80 percent), doctors (78 percent) and the respondent's own employer (75 percent).

Read more: Where are the happiest Germans?

Few trust big business

The bottom of the pack included corporations (27 percent), insurance companies (17 percent), Islam (9 percent), managers (6 percent) and public relations firms (5 percent).

"Following the discussions around the automobile industry, Air Berlin's bankruptcy and the planned job cuts at Siemens, public trust in businesses, managers, employers' associations and insurance companies is far lower," said the head of forsa, Professor Manfred Güllner.

He added that recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists had led to a significant loss of trust in Islam, which lost 16 percentage points compared to 2016.

Read more: Most Germans feel safe despite terrorism

Germans from eastern states skeptical of media

Respondents living in the states that made up former communist East Germany have a particularly low level of trust in the media, including in the radio (41 percent), the press (27 percent) and television (16 percent).

In only three institutions do Germans from eastern states have slightly more trust than Germans from the west: doctors, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the main Jewish association in Germany, and its Islamic equivalent, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany.

Read more: Germans say Russia is more reliable than the United States

Respondents who identified themselves as supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party had a lower level of trust compared to non-supporters in almost all of the institutions surveyed.

AfD supporters particularly mistrust television (13 percent), the Central Council of Jews in Germany (13 percent) and Islam (0 percent).

"AfD supporters have a hostile opinion of the entire societal system," Güllner said. "The deep-seated mistrust is evidence for how large the gulf between the minority of AfD supporters and the majority of society."