Battle for free-market ideas still to be won

September 24, 2007 1:31 PM

An interesting FT/Harris poll is covered in the Financial Times today (here for questions, here for further write-up). It's worth reading the poll results and analysis in full, but here is a quick summary.


  • Around 35 per cent of Britons think that a free-market, capitalist economy is the best economic system. Around 20 per cent think that it is not, while the remaining 45 per cent are unsure. Around 50 per cent of people in Spain, Germany and the US see a capitalist system as the preferred option.

  • Only around 25 per cent of Britons are optimistic about the UK's future economic prospects, while only around 25 per cent think the European economy can compete effectively against the Asian economies. Britons are generally more pessimistic than other Europeans, with over 40 per cent of Spaniards and Germans confident that Europe will be able to compete with India and China.

  • Only around 20 per cent of Britons, and around 20 per cent of other Europeans (though almost 40 per cent of Italians), think that Europe's economy should be more like that of the US, while over 50 per cent of Britons (similar percentages in other European countries) think that trade unions have an important role in today's work environment.

Overall, the results show that while people generally do not think that Europe is well placed to compete with the emerging Asian economies, they are not yet willing to take the hard decisions that will ensure they remain competitive. There is a hard fight ahead for free-market ideas.

An interesting FT/Harris poll is covered in the Financial Times today (here for questions, here for further write-up). It's worth reading the poll results and analysis in full, but here is a quick summary.


  • Around 35 per cent of Britons think that a free-market, capitalist economy is the best economic system. Around 20 per cent think that it is not, while the remaining 45 per cent are unsure. Around 50 per cent of people in Spain, Germany and the US see a capitalist system as the preferred option.

  • Only around 25 per cent of Britons are optimistic about the UK's future economic prospects, while only around 25 per cent think the European economy can compete effectively against the Asian economies. Britons are generally more pessimistic than other Europeans, with over 40 per cent of Spaniards and Germans confident that Europe will be able to compete with India and China.

  • Only around 20 per cent of Britons, and around 20 per cent of other Europeans (though almost 40 per cent of Italians), think that Europe's economy should be more like that of the US, while over 50 per cent of Britons (similar percentages in other European countries) think that trade unions have an important role in today's work environment.

Overall, the results show that while people generally do not think that Europe is well placed to compete with the emerging Asian economies, they are not yet willing to take the hard decisions that will ensure they remain competitive. There is a hard fight ahead for free-market ideas.

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