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14 June 2024

Russia, Iran, Israel and China rank worst for global influence, while EU seen as preferred model over Britain and US – major survey

23,800 people across 31 countries were polled for the study, which marks this year's Fulbright Distinguished Lecture


Russia, Iran, Israel and China rank worst out of 14 key nations and institutions for the influence they are having around the world, with perceptions of the four countries becoming increasingly negative over the last five years, according to a new global survey to mark the 2024 Fulbright Distinguished Lecture by Washington Post columnist and CNN host Dr Fareed Zakaria on 14 June.

Carried out by Ipsos and the Policy Institute at King’s College London, the poll, of 23,800 people across 31 countries, finds around half (48%) now say Russia mostly uses its influence for bad on the world stage, followed by three in 10 or more who say the same about Iran (37%), Israel (32%) and China (30%).

The study compares attitudes in 2024 with those from 2019, when 23 countries were surveyed on this issue. Looking at public opinion across nations polled in both studies reveals a 22-percentage point rise in the share who feel Russia has a largely negative influence, while the proportion who say the same about China (+10pts), Israel (+9pts) and Iran (+5pts) has also increased.

Against this backdrop, there has been little change in perceptions of Great Britain and the US. In the latest 31-country survey, 26% of the global public say Britain mostly uses its influence for good – more than double the share who say the opposite (11%). By contrast, opinion is more evenly split on whether the US has a mostly good (21%) or mostly bad (19%) influence.

And when it comes to international examples of good governance, around three in five (57%) of the global public would like their country to emulate the political and economic model of the European Union – higher than the share who say the same about Britain (50%), the US (47%) or China (34%).

Overall, global opinion is relatively divided about the US model, with 53% saying their country should not follow America’s example and 47% saying it should. However, across 24 nations where trends exist, the share of the public who feel the US model should be followed has risen by seven percentage points since 2019.

As is the case in many other countries, the share of Britons who feel their nation should copy the US has risen over the last five years, from 24% to 35%, yet this is still far behind the levels of support for Britain to emulate the EU, which 59% say they would like.

And despite improving perceptions of the US model over the last five years, Poland is the only European nation included in the survey where a majority (52%) wish to follow the American approach, with the Netherlands (20%) and Sweden (20%) least keen to do so.

In his Fulbright lecture, titled “Towards a Post-American International Order”, Dr Zakaria will argue that, almost 80 years on from the end of World War II, the international liberal order is under acute stress around the world while its main supporter, the US, turns increasingly inward. He will examine current dramatic shifts in geopolitics and explore what might come next.

Perceptions of America’s global influence have improved in many countries – but not in America itself

Among the countries for which trends are available, most now have a more favourable perception of America’s influence on the world stage than they did five years ago.

For example, the share of the public who think America mostly uses its influence for good has risen in Sweden (+12pts), France (+9pts), Germany (+11pts), Spain (+8pts) and Britain (+6pts), among others.

But the opposite trend can be seen in American itself: over the same period, since 2019, the proportion of Americans who say the US mostly uses its influence for good around the world has fallen from 48% to 34%.

Some countries have become much more favourable towards America’s political and economic model over the last five years

Since 2019, people in Japan (+29pts), Turkey (+25pts), Mexico (+19pts) have become much more likely to agree the US offers a political and economic model they would like their country to emulate, while other nations – including Canada (+12pts), Spain (+12pts), Britain (+11pts) and Peru (+11pts) – have seen smaller positive shifts.

Britons are now less likely to see their country as a force for good around the world, though perceptions of Britain have worsened more among Americans and Canadians

Between 2019 and 2024, the share of Britons who said their country mostly used its influence for good on the world stage declined eight percentage points, from 40% to 32%.

But over the same period, the proportion of Americans who felt this way about Britain declined by 13 points, and among Canadians it fell by 10 points.

No other European country surveyed has a majority who would like to emulate Britain’s political and economic model

Among the European nations included in the study, Poland (49%) and Italy (48%) are most likely to want to follow Britain’s political and economic example, while Sweden (29%), the Netherlands (30%) and Germany (30%) are least likely to.

Canada’s influence is seen most positively, though the UN and Germany are close behind

Of the 14 key countries and institutions asked about in the study, Canada receives the best ratings for its global impact, with three in 10 (31%) saying the country mostly uses its influence for good and just 8% saying it uses it for bad – on a par with the United Nations (29% good vs 13% bad) and Germany (28% mostly good vs 10% mostly bad).

There are significant differences between countries in perceptions of global influence

Across the 31 nations surveyed in the latest study, there are notable variations in views of the countries whose influence is perceived least favourably:

  • Indonesians (37%) are by far the most likely to say Russia’s influence is largely positive, with Malaysia (21%) next most likely to feel this way. Meanwhile, people in Sweden (74%) and the Netherlands (71%) are most likely to say Russia’s influence is largely negative.
  • People in Turkey (50%) and Ireland (49%) are most likely to say Israel largely uses its influence for bad around the world, while those in Israel (72%) are most likely to say the same about Iran.
  • People in South Korea (62%) are most likely to say China uses its influence for bad, while those in Indonesia (10%) and South Africa (13%) are least likely to feel this way.

Dr Fareed Zakaria said:

“The results of this survey are fascinating. Around the world, when it comes down to it, people still want liberalism in all sorts of ways. What surprised me was that the international paragon of good governance is the European Union. And the great irony is that while people in most countries have a more favourable perception of the United States than they did five years ago, the one place where this was not true was in America itself. It seems it is the inheritors of the liberal tradition who have the most self-doubt about their role in the world.”

Simon Atkinson, Chief Knowledge Officer at Ipsos UK, said:

“This poll vividly shows Russia’s fall from grace in the eyes of the public around the world. Meanwhile, the international reputations of Britain and the US have proved relatively resilient over the five-year period, despite their own citizens becoming less confident that their respective countries are using their influence as a force for good.”

Professor Bobby Duffy, Director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said:

“The study doesn’t just help us understand current views of individual countries and economic and political models around the world; it also shows just how increasingly diverse those views are becoming. Only 10 to 15% now think China mainly uses its influence for bad in Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand, but 62% say the same in South Korea, and approaching half in Israel, Japan and Sweden.

“We are living in an increasingly multi-polar world, with very different views of how nations are acting and whether their models should be emulated in our own countries, which is bound to test international relations. It’s particularly important for people in liberal democracies to recognise just how increasingly diverse these views are around the world.”

Maria Balinska, Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:

“At a time of growing international tensions, it is critical to understand how global attitudes towards countries in the transatlantic alliance are evolving. The results of this survey from Ipsos and the King’s Policy Institute open the door to important if sometimes difficult conversations about the future of liberal democracy. At the US-UK Fulbright Commission, we are always looking to convene such conversations and look forward to engaging with Fareed Zakaria’s insights on this important issue.”

The 2024 Fulbright Legacy Lecture
The lecture, titled Towards a Post-American International Order, will be given by Dr Fareed Zakaria on Friday 14 June, from 17:00 to 19:00, and hosted by Pembroke College, Oxford University. Find out more about the event.

Survey details
These are the results of a 31-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform and, in India, on its IndiaBus platform, between Friday, March 22, 2024 and Friday, April 5, 2024. For this survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 23,800 adults aged 18 years and older in India, 18-74 in Canada, Republic of Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Indonesia and Singapore, and 16-74 in all other countries.

The sample consists of approximately 2,000 individuals in Japan, 1,000 individuals each in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals each in Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, and Turkey. The sample in India consists of approximately 2,200 individuals, of whom approximately 1,800 were interviewed face-to-face and 400 were interviewed online.

Samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be considered representative of their general adult populations under the age of 75. Samples in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.

India’s sample represents a large subset of its urban population – social economic classes A, B and C in metros and tier 1-3 town classes across all four zones.

The data is weighted so that the composition of each country’s sample best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data. “The Global Country Average” reflects the average result for all the countries and markets in which the survey was conducted. It has not been adjusted to the population size of each country or market and is not intended to suggest a total result.

When percentages do not sum up to 100 or the “difference” appears to be +/-1 percentage point more/less than the actual result, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don't know” or not stated responses.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll where N=1,000 being accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of where N=500 being accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos’ use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.

The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.

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