BBC World Service poll reveals public narrowly backs UN recognition of Palestine

If countries' citizens had a vote at the UN, the poll suggests that Palestine would receive official UN recognitionDoug Miller, GlobeScan Chairman
Date: 18.09.2011     Last updated: 19.03.2014 at 09.30
Category: World Service
As debate continues over whether the Palestinians should ask for a UN resolution recognising Palestine as an independent state, a new global poll for BBC World Service reveals that, in all 19 countries surveyed, more citizens would prefer to see their government vote to support the resolution than vote against it – although only by a modest margin in many countries.

The poll of 20,446 citizens conducted by GlobeScan shows that, while the public is five to two in favour, with three undecided, in only nine countries is there an outright majority of citizens in support of recognizing Palestine as a state.

Across the countries surveyed 49% back the resolution, while 21% say their government should oppose it, and a large proportion (30%) either say that it depends, that their government should abstain, or that they do not know what their government should do.

Support for recognition is strongest in Egypt, where 90% are in favour and only 9% opposed. But there is also majority support in the other three predominantly Muslim countries polled – Turkey (60% support, 19% oppose), Pakistan (52% support, 12% oppose) and Indonesia (51% support, 16% oppose). Chinese people are the second most likely overall to favour their government voting for recognition of a Palestinian state, with 56% in support, and just 9% opposed.

In terms of countries with a higher level of opposition, Americans (45% support, 36% oppose) and Indians (32% support, 25% opposed, with many undecided) are the most likely to prefer that their government vote against recognizing Palestine, along with Filipinos (56% support, 36% oppose) and Brazilians (41% support, 26% oppose).

The results are drawn from a survey of 20,466 adult citizens across 19 countries. It was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between 3 July 2011 and 29 August 2011. Within-country results are considered accurate within +/- 2.1 to 3.5% 19 times out of 20.

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: "If countries' citizens had a vote at the UN, the poll suggests that Palestine would receive official UN recognition. However, with many people undecided or opposed, domestic repercussions are unlikely if their governments choose to vote against recognition."

Notes to Editors

Detailed Findings

Public opinion in the three EU Member States included in the poll is strikingly similar on this issue: France (54% support, 20% oppose), Germany (53% vs 28%) and the UK (53% vs 26%).

Russian public opinion is at variance with this picture, however, with over half not giving a definite answer and believing that "it depends", that their country should abstain, or simply not being able to offer a view. Those favouring a "for" vote outweigh their counterparts "against" by a ratio of just under three to one (37% vs 13%), with the remainder undecided.

In Latin America opinion is also equivocal, with much of the public undecided – particularly in Chile, with 52% in neither the "for" nor "against" camps. Nonetheless, the balance of opinion is still towards a vote for recognition rather than against. The percentage favouring a "for" vote is highest in Mexico (45% vs 15%), followed by Brazil (41% vs 26%), Chile (39% vs 9%) and then Peru (38% vs 18%).

In Canada (46% vs 25%) and Australia (50% vs 17%), opinion is broadly in line with the global average.

Meanwhile, in Ghana there is a higher than average proportion advocating an "against" vote (33%). This is the third-highest proportion seen in the poll after the US and the Philippines.

BBC World Service Press Office