Israel and Iran share most negative ratings in global poll
Most people believe Israel and Iran have a mainly negative influence in the world with almost as many saying the same about North Korea and the United States, according to a BBC World Service poll of 28,000 people in 27 countries.
People were asked to rate 12 countries – Britain, Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia, the United States and Venezuela – as having a positive or negative influence.
Canada, the European Union, France and Japan were judged most positively. Britain, China and India received more positive than negative evaluations while Russia was viewed slightly more negatively than positively. Opinions about Venezuela were evenly divided.
Details of the evaluation of the US were released separately on 23 January (see: World view of United States role goes from bad to worse).
The BBC has been tracking opinions about countries' influence in the world over three years (2005 to 2007). During that time most ratings have remained relatively stable.
There has been improvement in the case of India, a slight decline in views about Britain and a significant fall in positive evaluations of the US. Russia, China, and France also lost ground over the period, mainly between 2005 and 2006.
Steven Kull, Director of PIPA, commented: "It appears that people around the world tend to look negatively on countries whose profile is marked by the pursuit of military power.
"This includes Israel and the US, which have recently used military force, and North Korea and Iran, who are perceived as trying to develop nuclear weapons."
"Countries that relate to the world primarily through soft power, like France and Japan and the EU in general, tend to be viewed positively," he added.
GlobeScan President Doug Miller said: "India is the only country that has significantly improved its global stature in the past year, and is now even with China.
"Britain, while slipping a bit since 2005, appears to be avoiding the steep decline that its war partner, the US, is suffering. And it is fascinating that Chavez's Venezuela seems to be appealing to as many people as it is displeasing."
The poll was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
GlobeScan coordinated the fieldwork between November 2006 and January 2007.
Each country's rating is based on half-samples involving 14,000 interviews.
The BBC survey gave respondents a list of 12 countries and asked whether they had a "mostly positive or mostly negative influence in the world."
The country with the highest number of mostly negative responses overall is Israel (56% negative, 17% positive), followed by Iran (54% negative 18% positive), the United States (51% negative, 30% positive), and North Korea (48% negative, 19% positive).
Israel also stands out for having the largest number of countries (23 of 27) viewing it negatively. Iran is regarded unfavourably in 21 countries, the United States and North Korea in 20.
The most positive ratings were given to: Canada (54% positive, 14% negative), the European Union (53% positive, 20% negative) and France (50% positive, 21% negative). Japan is viewed favourably by 24 countries, France by 25 countries and the EU by 24 countries.
Another three countries tend to be viewed more favourably than unfavourably: Britain (45% positive, 28% negative), China (42% positive, 32% negative), and India (37% positive, 26% negative). Views of Russia, however, lean slightly negative (40% negative, 28% positive).
Opinions are divided about Venezuela, an oil rich country whose President is an outspoken opponent of US policy. Equal numbers say Venezuela's global influence is negative and positive (27% each). Nearly half (46%), however, decline to offer an opinion.
Opinions about Britain's influence
Though still largely positive, views of Britain appear to be slipping towards the negative in a number of countries.
Overall, 18 of the 27 countries polled have positive views of Britain, while seven have negative views. Among all countries polled (excluding Britain), an average of 45% have a positive view, while 28% have a negative opinion.
Among the 18 countries polled over the last three years, positive views have fallen from 50% in 2005 to 46%, perhaps due to Britain's continuing involvement in the Iraq war.
Views of Britain plummeted in Brazil, falling from 49% in 2006 to 24% today. In France positive views have slipped from 50% last year to 44% today, while negative views increased from 32% to 42%. In Turkey negative views grew from 41% to 54%.
Countries that still view Britain quite positively, but have seen decreases in the past year, include South Korea (75% to 61%), Nigeria (75% to 64%), and Poland (72% to 62%). In Lebanon, 53% see Britain as a negative influence compared with 34% in 2005.
Majorities continue to view Britain positively in the United States (67%), Portugal (65%), Australia (60%), Canada (59%), Italy (56%), and Indonesia (56%). Positive views are up among Kenyans (60% to 74%), Russians (45% to 55%) and Germans (43% to 51%).
BBC World Service