Global poll shows growing optimism in Obama

January 20th, 2009 - 7:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) A 17-nation poll conducted for BBC World Service has found widespread and growing optimism that Barack Obama presidency will lead to improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world. The poll also showed people around the world are looking to Obama to put the highest priority on dealing with the global financial crisis, a BBC release Tuesday said.

In 15 of the 17 countries polled, the majority thought that Obama’s election would lead to improved relations with the rest of the world. On average, 67 per cent expressed this upbeat view, while 19 percent thought relations would stay the same and just 5 percent that relations would worsen.

This is up sharply - by 21 points among tracking countries - from polling done for BBC World Service six months ago, before Obama was elected. At that time just 47 percent expressed optimism that an Obama presidency would lead to improved relations with the rest of the world.

In total, 17,356 citizens in Britain, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the US were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone mainly in November and December 2008.

Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In five of the 17 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from plus-minus 2.4 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Polling from last summer was conducted in the same countries from July 8 to September 15, 2008

Asked to rate six possible priorities for the Obama administration, the top priority in all countries polled was the global financial crisis. On average, 72 percent said that it should be a top priority.

This was followed by withdrawing US troops from Iraq - with 50 percent saying this should be a top priority - then addressing climate change (46 percent), improving America’s relationship with the respondent’s country (46 percent), brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians (43 percent), and supporting the government of Afghanistan against the Taliban (29 percent).

Polling was completed prior to the current Gaza conflict in all countries except Egypt and India. In Egypt, 75 percent said brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians should be a top priority.

Interestingly, two of the countries showing the largest improvement for the Obama administration are majority Muslim countries - Egypt and Turkey. Indonesians were also optimistic (64 percent) and showed an 18-point increase in optimism from last summer.

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