Launch of Government at a Glance 2023, June 2023 (2024)

Remarks byMathias Cormann,Secretary-General,OECD

30 June 2023

Vice-President Vera Jourová,

Chancellor Giedre Balčytytė,

Chair Dustin Brown,

Distinguished guests,

Welcome to this launch of the 8th edition of Government at a Glance.

This Report is built on the foundations of some of the core strengths of the OECD – data and evidence-based policy analysis and a commitment to democracy. Data and evidenced based policy analysis to help strengthen democracies at a time when governments are facing many short and longer term challenges, needing to respond and deliver in a context of a diversity of opinions, perspectives and aspirations in relation to the best way forward.

Governments, and democratic systems, have shown remarkable resilience in the wake of shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they continue to face significant pressures:

  • From persistent inflation and lower global growth in the wake of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,
  • From political polarisation and significant proportions of citizens disengaging from democratic processes, and
  • From mis- and dis-information, amplified in the digital space by domestic and foreign actors.

Democracy can be resilient in the face of shocks and challenges like these.

The latest OECD Survey on the Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions of twenty-two OECD countries who participated in this first wave of the programme, shows most citizens are confident that governments reliably deliver services such as education and healthcare.

Nevertheless, in 2021, the proportion of citizens that trust and distrust their national governments was evenly split.

And only one third of people (33%) think their government would be responsive to opinions expressed in a public consultation.

Perceptions of public integrity are also a concern.

Over one-third of respondents believe that it is likely a public employee would accept a bribe.

At the OECD Ministerial Meeting on Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy in November last year, ministers and high-level representatives from 42 countries and the European Union laid out a shared agenda on: responding to mis- and dis-information, enhancing representation and participation in public life, governing green, and digital government.

This year’s edition of Government at a Glance supports this agenda, allowing governments to benchmark their performance on a range of factors related to democratic resilience.

It also provides specific policy recommendations in three areas:

First, enhancing the democratic participation and representation of our citizens.

The capacity for innovation and improvement through constant feedback from citizens is one of the great strengths of democratic systems.

The report highlights a growing number of governance innovations to improve participation, like citizens’ assemblies and the use of digital platforms for consultation.

Engagement could be strengthened by ensuring consultations are held throughout the drafting process for laws and policies, further adoption of digital tools for consultation, and better transparency on how consultations ultimately impacted regulatory proposals.

Representation of women and younger people in politics and public institutions – shown to improve decision-making processes and appreciation of issues that affect women and families, has increased gradually in the OECD since 2017 but can be further improved.

For instance, women held only36% of ministerial positions on average in OECD countries, and only 41% of senior management positions in the public sector in OECD countries in the EU.

Governments can address these gaps – and access untapped talent – by appointing gender-balanced cabinets, and improving the recruitment of qualified women and other under-represented groups to senior government posts.

Second, governments must reinforce their ability to prepare for and manage crises – including mitigating and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

Our Trust Survey data show that while 50.4% of people think governments should be doing more to reduce emissions, only 35.5% are confident that countries will actually succeed in doing so.

Greener public investment and procurement can play an important role in boosting resilience to future shocks.

But only 46% of countries for which data was available require climate change adaptation measures to be integrated into the design of transport infrastructure projects for example.

Third is the need to protect against threats to our democratic values.

Our data on public sector integrity systems point to some risks associated with undue influence.

On average across 28 OECD countries surveyed, only 33% of the regulatory safeguards listed in the OECD Principles on Lobbying are implemented by governments in practice.

Only 15 out of 29 OECD countries surveyed ban anonymous donations to political parties of any amount.

And political parties and candidates submitted their reports on election campaign expenditure and funding on time, according to national law, in only 9 of these [29] countries.

These regulatory tools must be strengthened to address the risk of undue influence from foreign actors.

In closing,

This year’s Government at a Glance provides the evidence base to track progress, identify risks, and prioritise measures to strengthen the resilience of our democracies – and preserve our most important shared values.

Launch of Government at a Glance 2023, June 2023 (2024)
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