Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 7 News List

World hopeful over next US president, poll shows


People around the globe widely expect the next US president to improve the country's policies toward the rest of the world, especially if Senator Barack Obama is elected, yet they retain a persistently poor image of the US, a poll released on Thursday showed.

The survey of two dozen countries, conducted this spring by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, also found a growing despondency over the economy, with majorities in 18 nations calling domestic economic conditions poor. In more bad news for the US, people shared a sense the US economy was hurting their countries, including majorities in US allies Britain, Germany, Australia, Turkey, France and Japan.

Even six in 10 Americans agreed the US economy was having a negative impact abroad.

Views of the US improved or stayed the same as last year in 18 nations, the first positive signs the poll has found for the US image worldwide this decade. Even so, many improvements were modest and the US remains less popular in most countries than it was before it invaded Iraq in 2003, with majorities in only eight expressing favorable opinions.

Substantial numbers in most countries said they are closely following the US presidential election, including 83 percent in Japan — about the same proportion who said so in the US. Of those following the campaign, optimism that the new president will reshape US foreign policy for the better is substantial, with the largest segment of people in 14 countries saying so.

Andrew Kohut, president of Pew, said many hope the US role in the world will improve with the departure of US President George W. Bush, who remains profoundly unpopular almost everywhere.

“People think the US wants to run the world,” Kohut said. “It’s not more complicated than that.”

Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon have the strongest expectations the next president will worsen US policies, consistent with the skepticism expressed on many issues by Muslim countries. Japan, Turkey, Russia, South Korea and Mexico had large numbers saying the election would change little.

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