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Bush, Musharraf least trusted leaders: Poll

June 17, 2008 12:35 IST

Embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and his United States counterpart George W Bush are among the world's least trusted leaders along with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a new survey in 20 countries, including India, shows.

Musharraf has the poorest ratings around the world. Only in China, 37 per cent of the people feel that he inspires confidence as a leader, outweighing negative views (30 per cent), the poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org found.

Nigeria is divided over the Pakistani leader and the other 18 nations lean negative.

Just two countries, India and Nigeria, give Bush positive ratings while Thailand is divided. Sixteen of the 20 countries surveyed say they lack confidence in the US President. Only Musharraf is rated negatively in more nations. Bush also got the highest average percentage of negative ratings (67 per cent).

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is the only world leader to receive largely positive ratings.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, though relatively new to the world stage, gets positive ratings in six nations, more than any other chief of state.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets negative ratings in 13 nations, the most after Bush and Musharraf. Only three nations are slightly positive while one is divided.

Indians remain divided on Chinese President Hu Jinato, who also failed to get the confidence vote in 13 countries. Only five --Nigeria, South Korea, Iran, Azerbaijan and Ukraine-- tend to be positive, according to the survey, which was done in countries comprising 60 per cent of the world population.

On an average, 44 per cent of those surveyed around the world show little or no confidence in the Chinese leader. Only 28 per cent express some or a lot of confidence. In all cases, the leader's own country is excluded from the count of countries and the average rating.

Although confidence in Ahmadinejad is up slightly from the polling conducted by Pew in 2007, he is still far from being viewed as a credible leader, even in the Muslim world.

Majorities in all four Arab nations surveyed (Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories) say they lack confidence in Ahmadinejad.

Only in Indonesia does a bare plurality view Ahmadinejad favourably as an international leader.

Conducted between January 10 and May 6, the poll's margin of error is plus or minus 2 to 4 per cent.

The poll showed that none of the national leaders on the world stage inspire wide confidence. While Bush is one of the least trusted leaders, no other leader including China's Hu and Russia's Vladimir Putin has gained a broad international base of support.

Only UN Secretary General Ban received largely positive ratings in a worldwide poll that asked respondents whether they trusted international leaders 'to do the right thing regarding world affairs'. In nine nations, a plurality or majority say they have some or a lot of confidence in him to do the right thing. Three nations were divided.

WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 19,751 respondents in 20 nations, including China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Russia as well as Mexico, Argentina,  Britain, France and Spain.

Vladimir Putin remains popular inside Russia as he makes the transition from president to prime minister but he has not emerged as an attractive world leader.

On an average 32 per cent express confidence in Putin, one of the highest positive ratings, but a larger 48 per cent do not. No region has predominantly positive views on Putin's global leadership.

Putin, the authors say, appears to have become a divisive figure. Although his ratings have improved slightly since a 2007 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, the large positive movement in certain countries such as China, where Putin's ratings are up 17 points, is balanced by negative movement in others such as the United States, where his ratings are down 21 points.

"While the worldwide mistrust of George Bush has created a global leadership vacuum, no alternative leader has stepped into the breach," said Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org.

"Hu Jintao and Vladimir Putin are popular among some nations, but more mistrust them than trust them. Also, the nations that trust them are not organised into any clusters that have the potential to be a meaningful bloc," he said.

In the Middle East, people are generally the most negative: Egyptians, Jordanians, Iranians and the Palestinians express little or no confidence in nearly all of the leaders rated.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, known for his 'bling-bling' presidency, fares poorly with 15 out of 19 nations rating his international leadership unfavourably.

On average, 25 per cent of those surveyed express confidence in Sarkozy to do the right thing while 48 per cent express little or no confidence.

Dharam Shourie in New York
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