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% a year ago to 35% today while the view that it is having a negative influence has declined from 52% to 47%.
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%.
People were asked to rate Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the USA and the European Union, as having a mainly positive or negative influence in the world.
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%, negative views of Iran’s influence have held steady at 54% 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% to 37% and negative views have fallen from 40% to 33%. 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 31 October 2007 and 25 January 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.”