This is the second set of commentaries on public perceptions of national leadership at global summits and of the degree of concerted global leadership shown. This series reflects on the behaviours and outcomes of the G8 Summit in Italy in July 2009. A previous series examined the G20 London Summit on a similar set of issues. Since the global economic crisis, among other things, has revealed a lack of confidence in markets and lack of public trust in political leaders, the issues of the effectiveness of national leaders in addressing global challenges in concert and their ability to connect with the public interest in their societies and in the world become crucial.

The central question of the Soundings inquiry is: to what extent are the G8 and G20 summits seen by national publics in G20 countries as serving their interests and meeting their expectations that leaders will take responsibility for the public interest in global economic stewardship?

For the G8 Italian Summit July 8-10, the NPGL project proposes to ask different questions:

  1. Public Engagement: Given the diverse agenda for the Italian G8 Summit, including climate change and other issues beyond the financial crisis which was the exclusive focus of the UK G20 Summit, does this wider agenda seem to engage a broader public in the deliberations, or does it diffuse public attention and scramble the screen of public focus, thereby diminishing public involvement?
  2. Public Focus: Given the sequence of groupings of countries attending the three different days of the Italian G8 Summit, does this multiplicitous framework for discussion constitute a strength in the public mind by being still more inclusive and eclectic than the G20 summits, or does it create confusion in the public perception of who is in charge and where the locus of global leadership is to be found?
  3. G8 Relevance: Does the eclectically expanded G8 Summit under the Italians seem to national publics to be effective and complementary as a global leadership forum in relation to the sequence of G20 finance ministers-G20 leaders level meetings begun last fall in Brazil or is the G8 now perceived by national public opinion as a "blast from the past" that is still breathing and trying to be relevant but isn't?
  4. Global Leadership: Comment on the degree to which the July G8 Summit seems to answer public unrest in each country over the consequences of the economic crisis for the public interest and on whether the coordinated efforts of this G8 Summit are seen by the national public in each G20 country as an effective effort to assert global leadership or not.

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