At the end of a year that has seen multiple revolutions in the Middle East, a new BBC global poll across 22 countries shows that a narrow majority thinks the Arab Spring protests were a good thing.
The poll, conducted by GlobeScan among 21,558 people, reveals that 55% on average see the protests as “mostly positive”, with just over a quarter (28%) feeling they were “mostly negative”, and the rest undecided.
The European nations polled are most likely to be upbeat about the Arab Spring. More than three-quarters of Germans (78%) and French (76%) say they see the protests as mostly positive - the highest proportions in the survey. Egyptians themselves are also mostly positive (72%) - though more than one in four disagrees (26%).
The poll was conducted before the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya and recent renewed unrest in Egypt and Syria.
Two of the three other African nations in the sample - Nigeria and Kenya - also have large majorities (67% and 65% respectively) who feel that the Arab Spring protests were mostly positive. Apart from those countries, however, the developing-world and middle-income countries polled are more ambivalent about the protests.
Russia is the only country where the balance of opinion is that the protests were mostly negative (31% positive, 43% negative). But there is significant ambivalence as well in Pakistan (40% positive, 35% negative) and in India (41% positive, 30% negative).
In contrast, the clear balance of opinion in China is that the protests were a good thing (50% positive, 27% negative.)
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller says: “Support for the Arab Spring is widespread, but cautious. The findings suggest that outside of the stable democracies of Europe and North America, concerns about the potential of post-revolution instability may be moderating positive views - particularly in Russia, Pakistan, and India, three countries particularly sensitive to the threat of internal unrest.”
In total 21,558 citizens across 22 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between July 3, 2011 and September 16, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In eight of the 22 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
BBC World Service Publicity