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Building Social Trust for Good Governance

Why is trust so important for good governance? How can individuals,politicians and institutions such as governments foster and develop trust in such a way as to assure good governance? The United Nations defines trust as an efficient means of lowering transaction costs in any social, economic and political relationship. Social trust, which refers to citizens’ confidence in each other as members of a social community, is inseparable from the idea of political trust. Hence, political trust transcends partisan and ideological affiliations (United Nations, 2006).

A competent state can increase political and social trust as well as economic efficiency only by implementing safety nets and social programs, which target the poorest and the unskilled. One way to promote trust through the strengthening of political legitimacy is to bring communities closer to their governments and their governments to them. Local governance means that members of local communities take responsibility and action for their future.

There is relationship between trust and good governance and political leaders can forge and keep trust by implementing the following strategies:
1. Showing genuine concern for the public good by adhering to consistency between their words and deeds.
2. Striving to represent the interests of their constituencies effectively, albeit with the reiterated objective of serving the public good.
3. Implementing political reforms that will increase political trust directly and social trust indirectly, such as decentralization and innovation in public management. This is called POLITICAL TRUST with emphasis on political legitimacy. Avoiding corruption and scandals is the sine qua non of maintaining political trust. Corruption and perceptions of corruption damage trust in ways that may not be fully reparable for long periods of time to come.

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