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Global Views of USA ImproveApril 1, 2008
After years of becoming progressively more negative, public views of the United States have begun to improve, according to a BBC World Service Poll across 34 countries.
While views of US influence in the world are still predominantly negative, they have improved in 11 of the 23 countries the BBC polled a year ago, while worsening in just three countries.
The average percentage saying that the US is having a positive influence has increased from 31 per cent a year ago to 35 per cent today while the view that it is having a negative influence has declined from 52 per cent to 47 per cent.
Looking just at the countries that have been polled in each of the last four years, positive views of the US eroded from 2005 (38% on average), to 2006 (32%), and to 2007 (28%); recovering for the first time this year to 32 per cent.
As was the case a year ago, Iran and Israel receive the most negative ratings. While negative views of Israel have eased over the last year from 57 to 52 per cent, negative views of Iran's influence have held steady at 54 per cent making it the most negatively rated of the countries tested. Pakistan follows Israel as the third most poorly rated country.
Similar to last year, Japan is among the most positively rated countries. However, it comes a close second to Germany which is included in the ratings for the first time. The European Union comes third.
The country with the greatest improvement is Russia. Positive views of Russia have risen on average from 29 per cent to 37 per cent and negative views have fallen from 40 per cent to 33 per cent. In 12 countries, the view of Russia grew more positive.
The BBC World Service Poll has been tracking opinions about country influence in the world since 2005. These latest results are based on 17,457 in-home or telephone interviews conducted across a total of 34 countries (including the 23 tracking countries) by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008.
Steven Kull, director of PIPA comments, "It may be that as the US approaches a new presidential election, views of the US are being mitigated by hope that a new administration will move away from the foreign policies that have been so unpopular in the world."
GlobeScan president Doug Miller added: "The poll suggests that Iran continues to pay a price for its nuclear stand-off with the United Nations. World opinion continues to see it as the country having the most negative influence."
Countries that have shown the sharpest increase in their positive views of the US include South Korea (35% in 2007 to 49% today), France (24% to 32%), Portugal (29% to 42%), Brazil (29% to 39%), Chile (32% to 41%), and the UAE (25% to 37%).
While Iran and Israel continue to have the most negative ratings, nearly as negative are views of Pakistan (rated for the first time this year prior to the most recent election there). Fifty per cent view Pakistan as a negative influence while just 18 per cent give it a positive rating. In no country does a majority give it a positive rating, though Indonesia comes close with 48 per cent.
Germany--rated for the first time this year--gets the most positive ratings of all countries. On average 56 per cent say it is having a positive influence with just 18 per cent saying it is having a negative influence. No country gives Germany a majority negative rating.
Japan continues to be one of the countries with the most positive ratings. On average 56 per cent say that it has a mostly positive influence and 21 per cent say mostly negative--statistically unchanged from a year ago. Two countries--China and South Korea--continue to have a majority with a negative view of Japan.
Britain has also enjoyed an improvement with positive views rising on average from 46 to 50 per cent and negative views dropping from 29 to 24 per cent. Thirteen countries have improved views of Britain while just three have worsened.
When asked for their views of their own country's influence in the world, Japanese citizens are the most modest of those polled, with only 36 per cent saying Japan is having a mainly positive influence. Americans come next with only 56 per cent saying the US is having a positive influence. Conversely, fully 91 per cent of Chinese citizens and 78 per cent of Russian citizens say their country is having a positive influence.
In total 17,457 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, the UAE, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between October 31, 2007 and January 25, 2008. Polling was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In 16 of the 34 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. Given that country ratings were given by samples of about 500 per country, the margin of error per country ranges from +/-3.4 to 4.6 per cent.
Click the icon by each country to see a graph with full country-by-country results
Views of the United States continue to be largely negative, but with a modest improving trend. Among tracking countries the positive views of the US have risen on average 4 points from 31 per cent to 35 per cent, while negative views have dropped from 52 to 47 per cent.
Eleven countries have shown increases in positive attitudes. Two have even shifted from a predominantly negative attitude to a predominantly positive attitude. In 2007 South Korea had a majority of 54 per cent with a negative view. However this negative view has dropped 16 points to 38 per cent this year while positive views have risen to 49 per cent. In 2006 South Koreans were also predominantly negative (44% positive, 53% negative). Similarly in Portugal in 2007 there was a majority of 55 per cent with a negative view. This has dropped 18 points to 37 per cent while positive views have elevated to 42 per cent.
Two Latin American countries have moved from a majority negative view--Brazil (57% negative in 2007) and Chile (51%)--to divided views.
In two countries there has been a significant drop in the majority holding a negative view--France (69% to 51%), UAE (57% to 42%)--and in three countries a significant increase in their minority holding a positive view--Turkey (7% to 20%), China (28% to 38%), and Indonesia (21% to 32%). Two countries have had their already large majority with a positive view grow: Kenya (70% to 80%), Philippines (72% to 79%).
In three countries majority negative views have grown--Canada (56% to 62%), Lebanon (58% to 67%), Egypt (59% to 73%)--while in Nigeria majority positive views have slipped (72% to 66%).
Among new countries polled views are mixed. Japan leans negative (21% positive, 38% negative, with a large 41% not answering) while a majority of Spanish are negative (53%, positive 28%). However a large majority of Israelis are positive (68%), as are a majority of Ghanaians (65%) and Central Americans (57%).
While in 2007 Europe was the region with the most negative views of the US, these have moderated a bit and now the Middle East is the most clearly negative. Negative views have also softened in most Latin American and Asian countries.
Iran's global image remains quite negative. On average a majority (54%) sees Iran's influence in the world as mainly negative (unchanged from 2007), while very few (20%) see it as mainly positive. Nineteen countries have a negative view, just two a positive view, and three are divided.
In five countries negative views have subsided, though in each case it is still the dominant view. These include the United States (55%, down from 63%), France (70%, down from 86%), Canada (67%, down from 76%), Argentina (32%, down from 45%), and Brazil (63%, down from 69%).
The two countries with positive views of Iran have seen the positive numbers grow. These include Egypt (62%, up from 51%) and UAE (38%, up from 29%). But in the UAE there was an equivalent increase in negative views.
Negative views have increased considerably in five countries, growing in Turkey (61%, up from 46%), Kenya (68%, up from 60%), Russia (45%, up from 37%) and Germany (85%, up from 78%).
Positive views have also decreased considerably in Indonesia (41%, down from 50%) so that Indonesians are now divided (41% positive, 38% negative).
Among the countries polled for the first time this year, Israel (80%), Spain (77%), and Japan (65%) have the largest majorities seeing Iran's influence in the world as negative.
Views of Israel's influence in the world continue to be predominantly negative, although in some countries negative views are less widespread than a year ago. Out of all the countries polled in 2007 and 2008, the majority with a negative view of Israel has fallen somewhat (52%, down from 57%), while the number with a positive view of Israel has remained mostly stable (19%). Nineteen countries have a negative view, two lean to the positive (Kenya and Mexico), and three are divided.
Negative views of Israel have decreased significantly in five countries in Europe and Latin America. Majorities with negative views of Israel have fallen sharply in France (52%, down from 66%), Germany (64%, down from 77%) as well as in Brazil (57%, down from 72%) and Chile (43%, down from 57%). Russians also have less negative views than the previous year (29%, down from 40%).
In two countries, positive views of Israel have increased to become the most common view among these publics. In Kenya, a plurality of 45 per cent now says they see Israel's influence as mainly positive, up from 38 per cent the previous year. In Mexico, a plurality now has a predominantly positive view of Israel (31% to 23% negative); a shift from the previous year when a plurality held a negative view (25% to 31%).
Two Muslim countries have shown some improvement. Negative views have gone down in the UAE (58%, down from 73%) and Turkey has seen growth in positive views from 2 to 11 per cent. But Israel's influence is more widely seen as negative among the publics in Lebanon (94%, up from 85%) and Egypt (87%, up from 78%).
Negative views have also increased among Americans (39%, up from 33%), so that now views are nearly evenly divided (43% positive, 39% negative).
Positive views of Israel among Nigerians have declined (36%, down from 45%) while negative views have increased (38%, up from 31%). Canadians also have significantly less positive views than the previous year (15%, down from 27%).
Among countries polled for the first time this year, majorities have negative views of Israel in Spain (64%) and Japan (55%). Views tend to be negative among Central American publics as well (35%), while Ghanaians are divided (30% positive, 32% negative).
Pakistan was evaluated for the first time this year and received among the poorest ratings of all the countries evaluated. Polling was completed prior to the recent election there.
Among the 24 tracking countries 18 have a predominantly negative view, three are divided, and only one is predominantly positive (Indonesia). On average just 18 per cent say Pakistan's influence is mainly positive while 50 per cent say it is mainly negative. Newly polled countries are primarily negative.
The most negative views are found in Western Europe where majorities say that Pakistan's influence is mostly negative in Germany (77%), Italy (72%), Spain (71%), Portugal (70%), France (60%), and Britain (54%). A plurality of Russians (43%) are also negative.
Large numbers giving negative views are found in the United States (63%) and Canada (64%).
Views are mixed in Muslim countries. While Indonesia is the one country to give a predominantly positive view (48% positive, 27% negative), views are divided in UAE, and predominantly negative views are found in Egypt (59%), Turkey (48%), and Lebanon (47%).
Africans have relatively mild views. Views lean positive in Kenya (43% vs. 38% negative) and are divided in Nigeria. But a majority of Ghanaians (52%) have a negative view.
With the already-mentioned exception of Indonesia, Asians are generally negative. Majorities have this view in South Korea (66% negative), Australia (65%), Philippines (53%), and Japan (53%). China, however, only leans in this direction (30% positive, 38% negative).
Latin Americans views are quite mixed. Mexicans are divided, seven in 10 Argentinians did not provide an answer, but a majority of Brazilians (62%) and a plurality of Chileans (45%) and Central Americans (39%) are negative.
Japan remains one of the countries with the most positive ratings, though this year it comes a close second to Germany. Among the tracking countries, on average a majority (56%) views Japan's influence in the world as mainly positive, while one in five (21%) view Japan's influence negatively (statistically unchanged from 2007). Twenty-one countries give a positive rating, while two give a negative rating (two neighbours: China and South Korea) and one country is divided (Mexico).
The largest increases in positive views of Japan can be seen in Australia (70%, up from 55% in 2007), Egypt (45%, up from 33%), Italy (61%, up from 52%), and Great Britain (70%, up from 63%). The two countries that have majority negative views of Japan have also seen them decline: China (55%, down from 63%) and South Korea (52%, down from 58%).
Positive views of Japan have decreased significantly in two countries, but are still very positive: Canada (61%, down from 74%) and Indonesia (74%, down from 84%).
Among countries polled for the first time views of Japan are also largely positive, including majorities in Israel (75%) and Spain (58%) and Central America (53%) and a plurality among Ghanaians (48%).
Germany's global image is the most positive of all countries evaluated in this survey. In 20 of the 22 tracking countries the most common view is that Germany's influence in the world is "mainly positive," while two countries view its influence as mainly negative. On average across all countries, a majority (56%) has a positive view of Germany's influence in the world, while just 18 per cent have a negative view.
Among the countries in the Middle East, two have predominantly negative views of Germany: Turkey (47% negative, 37% positive) and Egypt (43% negative, 36% positive). However, majorities see Germany's influence as positive in Lebanon (65%) and the UAE (51%).
People in the Asia-Pacific region also tend to view Germany positively. Favourable views are quite widespread among Australians (71%) and South Koreans (71%), along with the Chinese (58%). Views of Germany tend to be positive among pluralities in Indonesia (48%), Japan (45%), and the Philippines (44%). Indians also lean towards seeing Germany's influence favourably (19% positive, 14% negative), though many are unable to offer an opinion.
Views of Germany are quite favourable among the African publics polled--majorities in Kenya (73%), Nigeria (66%), and Ghana (59%) see Germany's influence as positive.
Opinion of Germany in Latin America tends to be more mildly favourable. While a majority in Chile (53%) gives a positive rating, more modest pluralities are found in Brazil (44%), Mexico (43%), Central American countries (40%), and Argentina (28%).
Views of Russia's influence in the world have grown significantly more positive over the past year. Among the countries polled in both 2007 and 2008, positive views of Russia have risen from 29 per cent to 37 per cent and negative views have fallen from 40 per cent to 33 per cent. Currently ten countries have a positive view of Russia, four a negative view and nine are divided.
Negative views have declined in Brazil (41% to 32%), Britain (53% to 34%), France (77% to 50%), Argentina (33 to 17%), and Mexico (29 to 20%).
Positive views have grown in South Korea (20% to 50%), the United States (32% to 45%), Egypt (21% to 78%), China (59% to 69%), Turkey (16% to 35%), the UAE (20% to 35%), Kenya (43% to 55%), Australia (28% to 37%) and Portugal (15% to 23%).
Only in India have positive views of Russia decreased significantly, falling 17 points over the previous year (42% to 25%), although more still say their view of Russia is positive than the one in ten who say negative (9%).
Among countries polled for the first time this year, a slight majority in Spain (52%) has a negative view of Russia, and those in Japan also tend to have a negative impression of Russia's role in the world (34% negative to 15% positive), although many say their view depends (20%) or it is neither positive or negative (26%). Ghanaians (42%) have predominantly positive views of Russia, while Israel (53% negative) and Central American countries (31% negative, 26% positive) tend to have negative views of Russia.
Views of Russia are predominantly negative in all European countries polled except Britain. Views are mostly positive in Africa. Other regions all have mixed views, with many not providing an answer.
Views of Britain remain largely positive and have grown more positive over the last year. Among those countries polled in both years, on average positive views have grown from 46 per cent to 50 per cent, while negative views have fallen from 29 per cent to 24 per cent. Views improved significantly in 13 countries and worsened in three.
Out of 23 countries that evaluated Britain in 2007 and 2008, 16 have most saying their view is mainly positive, while in four the most common view is mainly negative (down from six in 2007) and three are divided.
Notable increases in positive views of Britain have occurred in predominantly Muslim publics, including the UAE (54%, up from 31%), Turkey (36%, up from 21%), and Lebanon (39%, up from 32%). Views of Britain are also considerably more favourable among South Koreans (77%, up from 61%) and the Chinese (56%, up from 49%).
However, positive views of Britain have slipped considerably in the United States (45%, down from 67%) while negative views have increased significantly (42%, up from 18%). Positive views have also fallen less dramatically in Russia (43%, down from 55%), Portugal (56%, down from 65%), and in India (22%, down from 37%), but the overall view of Britain's influence remains positive.
Among publics polled for the first time this year, views of Britain are largely positive, with this being the most common view in Ghana (69%), Israel (67%), Spain (55%), Japan (39%), and publics of Central America (31%).
Views of China continue to be mildly positive with a slight upward trend. (It should be noted that fieldwork was completed before the current unrest in Tibet.) Among tracking countries positive views have risen on average three points from 44 per cent to 47 per cent while negative views have held steady at 32 per cent. Fourteen countries have a positive view, seven have negative views and two are divided.
Seven countries have shown significant warming toward China. Australia has gone from a divided view in 2007 (43% positive, 39% negative) to a majority positive view (60% positive, 28% negative) possibly due to China's role in driving Australia's resource-exporting economy. Negative views dropped in Portugal (58% to 45%), France (59% to 46%), and Italy (58% to 50%). The Russian plurality with a positive view has grown (38 to 46%). Egypt showed a very large upward movement in positive ratings (38% to 82%) and in South Korea a more modest (32% to 40%).
Three countries showed a significant downward movement. Americans' negative ratings jumped significantly (44% to 54%) as did those of the Turks (39% to 58%). Indians giving a positive rating dropped from 35% to 22%.
Among new countries polled, views are mostly positive with majorities positive in Israel (65%), Ghana (56%), and Central America (59% positive, 17% negative), and leaning positive in Spain (43% positive, 32% negative). A substantial majority of the Japanese (59%) are negative.
The most positive views of China are found in the Middle East and Africa, though Asian views tend toward the positive. The most negative views are found in Europe and the United States.
Views of North Korea continue to be largely negative, though views have improved somewhat. Among tracking countries positive views of North Korea have, on average, risen slightly from 20 to 23 per cent, while negative views have fallen a bit from 48 to 44 per cent. Fourteen of the 23 countries have a negative view. Five lean positive, but in no case is this a majority; China comes the closest with 47 per cent positive.
Five countries have shown significant improvement in their views of North Korea. In three countries, their impressions shifted from predominantly negative impressions to predominantly positive ones. Philippines showed the most dramatic shift with positives rising 18 points, from predominantly negative (21% positive, 41% negative in 2007) to predominantly positive (39% positive, 30% negative today). Chinese opinion also improved from predominantly negative (34% positive, 39% negative) to predominantly positive (47% positive, 32% negative), as did Russian views (20% positive/37% negative to 28% positive/21% negative). Two countries have had minority positive views improve: Australia (7% to 16%) and Italy (9% to 16%).
In one country, India, positive views have slipped, shifting from predominantly positive (26% positive, 18% negative) to divided (11% positive, 14% negative). Those saying "don't know," however, increased 10 points from 31 per cent to 41 per cent.
Among new countries polled, most view North Korea's influence as negative. An overwhelming majority of Japanese are negative (90%), with only 2 per cent positive. Spain has a majority that is negative (55%) as does Israel (52%). In Ghana, views lean negative (30% negative, 21% positive), while in Central America views are divided (30% positive, 29% negative, and 30% not answering).
The only region where a significant number of countries lean positive on North Korea is East Asia, including China (47%), Indonesia (41%), and the Philippines (39%).
Views of India continue to be mostly positive, with views having improved in many instances, and worsened in just a few. Among tracking countries, positive views of India have risen slightly from 38 to 41 per cent, while negative views have drifted up a point to 28 per cent.
Fourteen countries have mostly positive views, especially Australia (71%), Canada (59%), the United States (57%) and Indonesia (54%). Five countries lean to the negative (up from two countries in 2007) but with relatively modest pluralities led by Egypt (44%), Turkey (41%) and the Philippines (38%).
Seven countries have shown significant increases in positive attitudes: China (37% to 45%), South Korea (41% to 54%), the United States (48% to 57%), Australia (39% to 71%), Kenya (44% to 55%), UAE (43% to 56%) and Italy (38% to 49%).
In Turkey and the Philippines views were divided in 2007, but now pluralities in both countries are negative (Turkey 41% negative, 29% positive; Philippines 38% negative 27% positive).
Among new countries polled, views tend to be positive. Views are predominantly positive in Ghana (46% positive, 19% negative), Israel (41% positive, 31% negative) and Japan (34% positive, 11% negative). Views are divided in Spain (35% negative, 31% positive) and lean negative in Central American countries (33% negative, 21% positive, with a large 35% not answering).
The most positive views of India are found in North America, Asia, and Africa.
The European Union
All EU countries have robust majorities declaring it a positive influence. When they are added to the totals, the EU has 21 countries viewing it as positive and the average rating rises to 55 per cent positive and 20 per cent negative.
Positive views of the European Union have grown significantly in eight countries: Kenya (74%, up from 62%), Brazil (43%, up from 31%), the UAE (45%, up from 33%), the Philippines (62%, up from 49%), China (62%, up from 58%), Australia (67%, up from 59%), and the United States (60%, up from 53%). Turkey has grown in its positive view (44%, up from 30%), but has also grown in its negative view (32% to 40%).
Only in three countries have positive views of the EU declined considerably, although in two the positive view has remained predominant. These include Italy (66%, down from 76%) and Mexico (36%, down from 43%). The most common view in Lebanon is now that EU influence in the world is negative, as positive views have decreased (41%, down from 54%) and negative views become more widespread (48%, up from 27%).
Among new countries polled majorities view the EU's influence positively, including those in Spain (74%), Ghanaians (64%), Israelis (64%), Central Americans (52%), and a plurality of Japanese (40%).
People around the world continue to have positive views of France's influence. Only one country (Turkey) continues to have a majority seeing French influence as mainly negative. Among countries polled in both 2007 and 2008, the average saying France's influence in the world is mainly positive has remained stable (50%), and those saying it is mainly negative remains less than one-quarter (22%).
The United States has gone through a significant shift toward France--perhaps in response to the American-friendly stance of its new President Sarkozy. While in 2007 views were divided (38% positive, 41% negative) positive views have jumped 10 points so that there is now a plurality positive (48% positive, 29% negative).
While Turkey remains the only majority (65%) with a negative view of France's influence in the world, the number saying it has a positive influence have increased 12 points (21%, up from 9%), while negative views have eased (69% to 65%).
Significant gains in positive views of France have occurred in four other countries, including Egypt (42%, up from 26%), South Korea (65%, up from 55%), Lebanon (68%, up from 60%), and Canada (62%, up from 55%). Negative views have also slid in Brazil (28% to 17%) and Australia (32% to 25%).
Views have become distinctly cooler in just two countries with positive views dropping in Germany (49%, down from 60%) and Russia (53%, down from 63%). Other countries slipped as well, but not significantly.
Among the new countries polled majorities in Spain (62%), Ghana (57%), and Israel (53%) see France as having positive influence. Pluralities in Japan (31%) and Central America (43%) also view France's influence positively.
Brazil is widely viewed as having a positive influence in the world, with few countries expressing reservations and no country having a majority saying it has a negative influence. On average, 44 per cent say that Brazil has a mainly positive influence in the world, while just 23 per cent say it has a mainly negative influence.
Brazil's regional neighbours generally view it as having a positive influence, including a majority in Chile (65%) and pluralities in Argentina (41%), Mexico (40%) and among Central American publics (38%).
North Americans also have widely favourable views of Brazil's influence, although positive views are more widespread among Americans (61%) than Canadians (44%).
Africans also tend to have positive views of Brazil, with a majority of Kenyans (67%), half of Nigerians (50%), and a plurality of Ghanaians (36%) sharing this opinion.
Among publics in the Middle East, only Lebanon has a majority (53%) saying Brazil's influence is mainly positive, followed by a plurality in the UAE (44%) and Israel (41%).
In only two countries is the most common view that Brazil has a mainly negative influence--both of them Muslim countries. In Egypt, 43 per cent see Brazil negatively (34% positive), as do 40 per cent in Turkey (30% positive).
Among Asian publics, South Korea has the largest number (54%) seeing Brazil's influence as positive, followed by China (52%) and Indonesia (50%). Japan is among the lowest with 29 per cent saying their view is mainly positive, although only 8 per cent say mainly negative and 53 per cent say it depends (15%) or neither (38%). Indians have similar views (11% mainly positive, 14% mainly negative, and 41% depends or neither).
Publics in Europe tend to have smaller numbers with positive views of Brazil. Great Britain (43%) and Spain (42%) have the largest numbers with mainly positive views of Brazil's influence in the world, followed by France (40%), Italy (39%), and Russia (36%). In all cases the negative numbers are lower. However Portugal is divided on how they view Brazil: 36 per cent say its influence is mainly positive, 34 per cent say it is mainly negative.
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