Global poll: Only Iran viewed more negatively than Israel
Comprehensive BBC survey ranks Jewish state second from bottom in terms of its global image, with slight improvement compared to last year's poll. Islamic republic has worst rankings of any of 14 countries asked about, with 54% of participants having a mostly negative view of its influence on world
According to the annual survey, conducted among 17,000 participants in 34 countries, only Iran "enjoys" a more negative image.
Some comfort can be found in the fact that compared to last year's poll, in which Israel was viewed negatively by 57% of the participants, this year "only" 52% named the Jewish state.
Iran had the worst rankings of any of the 14 countries asked about in the BBC World Service survey. An average of 20% had a positive impression of Iran's influence on the world, while 54% had a mostly negative view. Pakistan ranked third from the bottom.
Pollsters said Iran's nuclear enrichment program appeared to be behind the negative ratings. The United States and European countries fear Iran wants to enrich uranium to create nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists its program is for peaceful energy purposes.
"The poll suggests that Iran continues to pay a price for its nuclear standoff with the United Nations," said Doug Miller, president of polling company GlobeScan. "World opinion continues to see it as the country having the most negative influence."
The US image abroad has begun to improve after worsening for years, but the United States is still viewed more negatively than the European Union, Brazil, China, India and Russia, the survey said.
The poll found that positive views of US influence have risen by about 4% points over the past year. The average positive rating was 35 percent, versus an average negative rating of 47 percent.
Among countries where the poll has been conducted in four consecutive years, positive views of the United States were expressed by an average 32% of the population, versus 28% a year ago. The poll listed no margin of error.
US public image plummeted around the world in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration tried to counter the trend by creating a public diplomacy unit within the State Department.
Pollsters involved in the BBC World Service project said the US presidential elections appeared to be behind the changing views of the United States.
"It may be that as the US approaches a new presidential election, views of the US are being mitigated by hope that a new administration will move away from foreign policies that have been so unpopular in the world," said Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.
Despite the modest improvement for the first time in four years, public opinion of the United States was still overwhelmingly negative. The average negative rating was 47%, versus 52% a year ago.
By comparison, the European Union had a 52% positive rating, Brazil's was 44%, China 47%, India 42% and Russia 35%. The United States was viewed more positively than North Korea, but more negatively as well.
US influence in the world was viewed most positively in Kenya, the Philippines, Israel, Nigeria, Ghana, and Central America, where well over 50% of those questioned had positive views of the United States.
It had its lowest positive ratings from Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, India and Russia, where fewer than 20% of those questioned had a good impression of the United States.
The United States was viewed most negatively by people in Turkey and Egypt, where 73% of those polled had bad impressions of US influence. Germany followed at 72%, Lebanon at 67%, Canada at 62%, Australia at 58% and Argentina and Mexico at 56%.