The resurgence of anti-business populism; more regulation ahead

We’ve already seen the U.S. presidential candidates embrace populist, anti-corporate appeals. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, has taken whacks at Wall Street. John Edwards, a Democrat, lays out his “stop corporate abuses” manifesto here. There’s a reason they do this: It really resonates with the public, at a time of globalization, job insecurity, outsourcing, mass layoffs, a looming recession, corporate scandals, congressional earmarks for contractors, $100/barrel oil, election campaigns funded by corporate interests (need I go on?)….

And now comes a survey, from public-affairs polling firm Ipsos-Reid, showing that it’s not just a U.S. phenomenon but a global one. Important note: The firm polled 22,000 people in 22 countries — but they didn’t interview just any warm body. The respondents are what the firm calls the “Intelligaged,” people who are online, vote in elections, discuss politics, etc. (see methodology below).

The pollsters concluded that:

…a majority of the world’s most engaged citizens is letting it be known that large companies have too much influence on the decisions of their government and they want a more aggressive crackdown on the activities and influence of national and multinational corporations…

…public opinion among the most active, connected and engaged global citizens is putting global and national corporations at risk for potential government interventions and tighter regulatory incursions because its most elite citizens will back such moves.

Specifically, the Ipsos poll found that:

  • Three quarters (74%) of the “intelligaged” citizens agree that large companies have “too much influence on the decisions” of their government. This was especially true in Latin America (83%) and North America (81%).
  • A full majority (72%) of the “intelligaged” citizens believe that the government of their country “should be more aggressive in regulating the activities of national and multinational corporations.”

“Populist Message Gets Louder As Iowa Caucuses Kick Off Race,” (The Wall Street Journal, 3 January 2008)
“My Plan to Stop Corporate Abuses,” by John Edwards (The Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2008)
Policies needed to soften the blows of globalization
Poll: Americans are gloomy about the future

Ipsos poll methodology:
“The survey audience — the Intelligaged global population — is the most involved and influential population per country: a total of 100% are online, 68% voted in the last election they were eligible to do so, half have instigated political, economic and social discussions, and 37% have signed a petition within the past year. On the consumer behavior side, half (47%) chose to buy a product or service because of a company’s ethical, social or environmental reputation and one third (33%) advised others against using a specific company or service for the same reason. The Ipsos Global@dvisor-Reputation Risk Identifier is a biannual survey specifically constructed to understand the reputation risk environment critical to protecting the goodwill and equity — both financial and public — of corporate brands and operations. The field window was Oct 18th through Oct 31st, 2007. It surveyed over 22,000 broad elites, Internet Intelligaged, and digital information opinion leaders about corporate, social & political, foreign investment, expansion, the environment, and other critical business risk affecting the business landscape, via 1,000 interviews each in 20 countries across the Ipsos global online panel access network, with results made available through the Global@dvisor research service digital platform within 20 days of initiating the global survey. The margin of error per country is +/-3.1, 19 times out of 20.”

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