TEHRAN – Nasser Imani, a principlist political activist, told IRNA on Sunday that “attracting public trust will strengthen people’s participation in various social and political affairs and will lead to people’s cooperation with officials.”
People’s trust and hope in the administration is one of the most important issues in governance, which causes the social capital of administrations to increase, and with the support of this social capital, decisions are made in the international arena.
Therefore, the trust and hope of the people towards the administration is very important, but the problem is that this trust in Iran has decreased to some extent in recent years, and this is a source of concern. The issue led IRNA to have an interview with Imani.
“Public trust depends on efficiency of political system”
Imani considers public trust as one of the great social issues, saying: “Public trust means how competent people consider the administration of the country.”
That is, Imani said, the people have enough confidence in the efficiency of the political system, the state, and the administration in running the country.
In such a situation the people confide the administration that decides about their future, is economically prosperous, provide security in all aspects of their life, and have created a culturally and politically developed system, the analyst opined.
“Public confidence in administration has declined in recent years”
Regarding the public trust in Iran in recent years, the political activist said: “People’s public trust in the administration and other state institutions, especially the executive branch, has reached its lowest level in recent years, mostly due to the poor performance of the previous administration.”
Of course, some issues, such as sanctions, and more recently the issue of the corona, have had their own effects, Imani noted.
The decline in public confidence is mainly due to the people’s economic problems, such as rising prices, declining purchasing power, depreciation of national currency, unemployment, 50% inflation rate, and despair about their future and those of their children, he stated.
“The decline in public confidence was mainly due to their economic problems, which, with rising prices and declining purchasing power of the people, the devaluation of the national currency, the problem of unemployment, and rising prices… and people feel that they are suffering from a kind of ‘statelessness’. That is, there is no one who can run the country,” he explained.
“Increasing public trust will maximize common language between people, administration”
“Decreasing public confidence in the political system or the executive branch does not make much difference, whichever it is, it is ultimately a reference to the political system of the country and makes first of all people have less participation in the plans of the administration,” he opined.
The first step to increase public trust is a serious fight against corruption
Second, the analyst noted, is that the “common language” between the people and the administration reaches its lowest point.
That is, in fact, the things that the administration wants to convey to the public opinion, the people do not accept them, and the situation develops in a way that is ready for any crisis, Imani notes.
“That is, with the smallest issue that may occur in a city or our province, this will become a major security and political problem in the country. As in the case of water shortage in Khuzestan, people felt that they were suffering from water shortage and that no one was paying attention to their problems, and this is one of the consequences of reducing the administration’s relations with the people. Thus, society becomes ready and prone to various crises.”
“Lack of emotional connection between people and administration harms social capital”
Regarding the harms resulting from public distrust, Imani stated that lack of “emotional connection” between the administration and the people will undermine social capital and, in fact, causes the emotional connection towards the administration and the state to reach its lowest level.
Because when people wake up in the morning and see that the price of gasoline has risen without the administration informing them in advance and decision are being taken behind closed doors, people naturally feel “alienated”, he commented.
Therefore, people’s problem with the issue of gasoline was not just why its price has multiplied, rather the main problem was that the administration had behaved in a way that the people felt they are not trustful, and with these behaviors, the gap between the people and the administration will definitely increase, the analyst remarked.
“Public trust is the main asset for administrations”
“Administrations have nothing but the people and winning their trust, which has greatly diminished in recent years and the relationship between the administration and the people has been severely damaged,” the principled political activist said.
The people will cooperate as much as possible when the administration consults with them and informs them about the difficulties in advance, he said.
The result of such a situation is that people react, Imani added.
For example, he said, when it is announced that the people must observe the health protocols, some people do not pay attention, or when it is said that the number of deaths due to corona is so high, few people accept it.
“So, because of this disconnection…, the people do not consider what is being said is true, and this means that the people do not trust and the social trust between them and the administration is affected.”
“People will cooperate if public confidence restored”
Regarding restoring public confidence in administrations, he said: “If administrations restore public confidence, people will still cooperate, no matter how much they have problems and have a hard time living.”
The question is, how does public trust is gained? the analyst asked, stating that administrations should not make decisions behind “closed doors” and they should understand the needs of the people.
People have a thorough understanding of many issues in the country, including issues such as foreign policy, which is a specialized field, let alone domestic issues, he argued.
He went to say that is a general understanding on the part of the people about cultural, economic, social issues.
Regarding the relationship between the administration and the people in order to gain public trust, Imani said: “The administration must be among the people. Being among the people does not necessarily mean that someone in charge be present in the subway and among the people.”
Administrations can actually understand in different ways how different walks of life think about different issues and what they want, the political activist noted.
Administrations may not be able to understand what the people want, at least in the short term, so they need to consult with the people to understand what is needed to solve the problems, he pointed out.
“Administrations’ measures to increase public trust”
The political activist also stated: ” Administrations must take a number of steps to increase public trust, including honesty in the words. It means that people understand the honesty in the behavior and remarks of officials well. This is a psychological feeling.”
Also, if the people realize that the administrations talk to them honestly and share opinion about national issues and problems with them, they will definitely do the necessary cooperation, he insisted.
“So the honesty of the administrations is very important for the people.”
“Corruption undermines and public trust”
Regarding the issue of corruption and public trust, Imani noted: “In recent years, people, while living in difficult conditions, are noticing news of financial abuses… by some officials in the country. Creating (an environment for) corruption means incompetence and inefficiency of the government, especially the executive branch.”
It is not a secret to the people that corruption has increased and people think that high-ranking officials themselves are involved and benefit from corruption, the political activist regretted.
“If we follow the conversations of people everywhere, in streets, markets, taxis, buses, subways, and anywhere else, we find that they often speak logically and correctly about the same subject (corruption). When people believe that some elements of the administration are involved in corruption, there is no other way but to show in practice that the administration is against corruption.”
Imani added: “If the administrations are against corruption… and the people feel that corruption is strongly opposed, there will be more empathy and the lost trust will be restored.”
This does not mean that there is no more corruption at all, he said.
Corruption eventually occurs, but reducing it greatly the public opinion concludes that the administration is strongly opposed to corruption and will take it seriously, even if some officials were involved in it, he underlined.
If this feeling is transmitted to the people, those effects of suspicion will no longer continue, so the first step to increase public trust is a serious fight against corruption, the analyst concluded.