Only nine percent of Germany's citizens have faith in their leaders – a five percent decrease over last year, according to a poll by market research company GFK.
The poor results for politicians reflect discontent over recent political scandals – such as the plagiarism controversy that enveloped former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, GFK CEO Klaus L. Wübbenhorst told Die Welt newspaper.
But another factor could be politicians' wishy-washy approaches to the Stuttgart 21 rail project controversy and the future of nuclear energy in Germany, he said.
Moves perceived as “electioneering manoeuvres” can “cost trust,” he told the newspaper.
Among the most trusted workers are fire fighters and doctors, who hold the trust of 98 and 89 percent of the citizenry, respectively. Meanwhile, 44 percent of Germans trust journalists, 47 percent trust lawyers and 56 percent trust members of the clergy.
While some numbers may be surprising – such as the fact that postal employees are among the most trusted people in Germany at 86 percent – they have to be viewed in their proper context, Wübbenhorst said.
“For many people in rural areas the mailman who comes to the house every day is an important contact with the outside world,” he told Die Welt.
Nineteen countries, including India, the United States and Britain were surveyed for GFK's annual “Trust Index” report.
Levels of trust appear to often reflect social and political norms. Police are trusted by just 36 percent of the population in Colombia, likely because they're widely viewed as being corrupt, for example. In Sweden, however, 89 percent of the population trusts the police.
Germans' trust in professions by the numbers
Fire service: 98 percent
Doctors: 89 percent
Postal workers: 86 percent
Police: 85 percent
Teachers: 84 percent
Judges: 79 percent
Armed forces: 79 percent
Lawyers: 71 percent
Market researchers: 70 percent
Environmental protection organizations: 69 percent
Charities: 58 percent
Bankers: 57 percent
Trade unions: 56 percent
Clergy: 56 percent
Civil servants: 54 percent
Journalists: 44 percent
Marketing specialists: 38 percent
Advertising specialists: 33 percent
Business managers: 20 percent
Politicians: 9 percent
Source: GFK Trust Index 2011