Whether in democracies or not, one common question occupies the minds of citizens: who, why and how far should we trust? This is understandable as many people feel disappointed once a political party or a leader holds office as their intentions are not known in prior. Trust could be defined as a worthwhile attitude that increases one’s vulnerability. It is an important element for the insurance of any society’s stability and government’s legitimacy, although a certain level of suspicion is healthy for guaranteeing the implementation of democracy. Trust, in general, occurs when different groups generate positive perceptions on each other. In such, it eliminates risks as the trusted person or institution is free from worry and need to monitor its behaviour.
Thus, trust is relatively the base of all political, social and economic interactions. Political trust, in particular, reflects the idea that citizens value their political system and appraise the leader being honest, reliable policy maker, efficient, fair and promise keeper. Trust occurs in open societies where citizens are able to question government policies and are able to differentiate decision-making processes. According to Miller and Listhaug, political trust is “the judgment of the citizenry that the system and the political incumbents are responsive and honest in the absence of constant scrutiny”. Thus, trust is a sign of any public’s relationship and feeling about its government and this can be directed towards a leader, system or institution. Miller (1974: 951) divided trust into two variants; one being an organisational trust related to “issue-oriented perspective in which citizens become trustful or distrustful of government because of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with policy alternatives”.
This can be seen as a diffuse trust where the citizen tends to evaluate the whole regime or a specific trust where certain institutions are concerned such as the White house and the Congress in the USA. The other is the individual trust, directed towards a political leader and includes “a person-oriented perspective in which citizens become trustful or distrustful of government because of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of certain political leaders”. Both latter trusts depend on credibility which can be defined as an unquestioned descent policy, assessed with different perceptions and performances of certain policies. Credibility is related to political trust in the sense that the government produces policies that are genuinely successful, thus allows trust to grow over time. On the other hand, if the government always issues policies that lack credibility, trust reduces. Therefore, every policy issued by leaders or organisations is a potential act of building trustworthiness.