By Kate Samuelson
January 17, 2017

France and Italy are the countries least trusted by their people, as just 28% of French and Italian citizens have faith in their nation’s system, according to new research by public relations firm Edelman.

According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, 72% of the French and Italian citizens who participated in the study said they had lost faith in the system, followed by Mexico, South Africa and Spain, all at 67%.

The annual study found that 2016 saw the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs. Trust in media (43%) fell to all-time lows in 17 countries, while trust levels in government (41%) dropped in 14 markets; government is the least trusted institution in half of the 28 countries that were surveyed.

The credibility of leaders also fell, as CEO credibility dropped to an all-time low of 37%, with declines in every country studied. More than half (53%) of the study’s respondents believe the current overall system has failed them, while only 15% believe it is working. Approximately one-third are uncertain.

“The implications of the global trust crisis are deep and wide-ranging,” said Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman. “It began with the Great Recession of 2008, but like the second and third waves of a tsunami, globalization and technological change have further weakened people’s trust in global institutions. The consequence is virulent populism and nationalism as the mass population has taken control away from the elites.”

Write to Kate Samuelson at kate.samuelson@time.com.

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