It wasnt so long ago that nobody knew what the man in the street was thinking, what his views about life were and what he wanted. And even if this information was available, it was hardly ever taken into account. This situation has changed beyond all recognition. Thanks to public opinion surveys and opinion polls, we now know much more about what the public wants, what people think about a multitude of issues and their attitudes to almost everything. And the internet has now made this evident 24 hours a day. Polls, often conducted on a daily basis, are increasingly becoming a determining factor in public life and this is especially true in the run up to an election. But what can be said about the quality of these polls or about the impact of this instantaneous feedback on the democratic process? After all, politicians tend to adjust their positions on the basis of the volatile information that reaches them. Do they speak from their own convictions or do they more often say what they think the voters want to hear? And how well do the media handle the wide range of polls that are submitted with ever increasing frequency? Should there be restrictions? More attention does indeed need to be paid to standards of performance and media coverage. The point of departure for this could be the recently updated ESOMAR/WAPOR guide for Opinion Polls. However, whatever happens, industry self regulation should lead the way. In this issue, we also present the views of a number of industry insiders about the outlook for 2007 and developments in the medium term.