Posts Tagged ‘Opinion Polls’
A new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of 24 nations from around the world finds a widespread perception of a serious lack of political tolerance. Large majorities perceive that people in their nation are not completely free to express unpopular views, that opposition parties do not get a fair chance to express their views and try to influence government decision, and that legislators have limited freedom to express views that differ from their political party.
The poll, sponsored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and released in conjunction with International Democracy Day, also finds overwhelming support throughout the world for the principle that diversity of political expression should be allowed, and support for democracy more broadly.
WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 21,285 respondents in 24 nations that comprise 64 percent of the world’s population. This includes most of the largest nations–China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and South Africa–as well as Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Germany, Great Britain, France, Israel, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Palestine. The margins of error range from +/-2 to 4 percentage points. The surveys were conducted across the different nations between April 4 and June 30, 2009. Not all questions were asked in all nations.
A statement on the global poll, issued by IPU President Theo-Ben Gurirab is available at www.ipu.org/dem-e/idd/statement09.pdf.
When asked how free they think people are to express unpopular views in their country, without fear of being harassed or punished, in no nations does a majority of people say they are completely free. On average across all nations polled, just 24 percent say people in their country are completely free to express unpopular political views, 42 percent that they are somewhat free, and 30 percent that they are not very free.
Asked how often opposition parties get “a fair chance to express their views and try to influence government,” in only 4 out of 21 nations do majorities say “most of the time.” On average only 37 percent say “most of the time,” while nearly six in ten say “only sometimes” (38%) or “rarely” (20%).
Asked how often members of the legislature “feel free to express views that differ from the official views of their own political party,” in only one country does a majority consider that legislators feel free most of the time, while in 20 out of 23 nations, a majority says legislators feel free only sometimes or rarely. On average, only 28 percent say that legislators feel free to express divergent views most of the time while more than two out of three say only sometimes (37%) or rarely (29%).
These perceptions of a lack of political tolerance are in sharp contrast to overwhelming support for the freedom to express diverse views. Asked “How important do you think it is for people to be free to express unpopular political views, without fear of being harassed or punished?” majorities in all nations say such freedom is very or somewhat important. On average 86 percent say this freedom is important, and 58 percent call it very important.
“Around the world we find a remarkable consensus that a diversity of political views should be tolerated, together with a widespread perception that such diversity is not fully tolerated in society in general, or even in the functioning of legislatures,” comments Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org.
The poll also found strong support for democracy in general. Asked “How important is it for you to live in a country that is governed democratically?” majorities in all 24 nations say it is very or somewhat important. In no country do those calling this unimportant exceed about one in four. On average across all nations polled, 90 percent say it is important to live in a democratically governed country, and 67 percent say it is very important.
People who support greater political tolerance are also more apt to support democracy. Among those who say it is very important for people to be free to express unpopular political views, 80 percent said it is very important to live in a country that is governed democratically, but this drops to 48 percent among those who say such freedom is just somewhat important and to 41 percent among those who say it is not important at all.
Though none of the nations polled have parity in gender representation in their national legislatures, views are mixed on whether women are fairly represented. On average across all countries polled, a modest majority of men think women are fairly represented, but a plurality of women think they are not. In 12 nations a majority says that women are fairly represented (as does a plurality in one more); in eight nations a majority says they are not.
There is also wide variation in perceptions of how fairly ethnic, religious or national minorities are represented in national legislatures, though overall views lean in the direction that minorities are not fairly represented. Asked how fairly “minorities, including ethnic, religious, or national minorities” are represented in the national legislature, eight nations have a plurality or majority saying that they are fairly represented. Ten nations say they are not fairly represented and five nations are evenly divided.
Pakistanis see their country in crisis. They give their national government lower ratings than at any time in this decade, and almost no one is satisfied with national conditions. Crime and terrorism are seen as major problems by virtually everyone. And huge percentages of Pakistanis also see their country struggling mightily with corruption and a deteriorating economy.
A long-standing concern about Islamic extremism has grown even greater over the past year. No fewer than 69% of the Pakistanis questioned worry that extremists could take control of the country. At the same time, indifference and mixed opinions about both al Qaeda and the Taliban have given way to a strong condemnation of both groups. In 2008, just 33% held a negative view of the Taliban; today, 70% rate it unfavorably. Similarly, the percentage of Pakistanis with an unfavorable opinion of al Qaeda has jumped from 34% to 61% in the last year.
However, growing concern about Islamic extremism has not resulted in an improved view of the United States. Opinions of America and its people remain extremely negative. Barack Obama’s global popularity is not evident in Pakistan, and America’s image remains as tarnished in that country as it was in the Bush years. Only 22% of Pakistanis think the U.S. takes their interests into account when making foreign policy decisions, essentially unchanged from 21% since 2007. Fully 64% of the public regards the U.S. as an enemy, while only 9% describe it as a partner.
Further, many express serious concerns about the U.S.-led effort to combat terrorism, both globally and in Pakistan specifically. In particular, many who are aware of the drone strikes targeting extremist leaders believe these strikes are causing too many civilian deaths and are being carried out by the U.S. without the consent of the Pakistani government.
However, for all the anti-American sentiment, the new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project also finds an openness to improving relations with the U.S. and considerable support for the idea of working with it to combat terrorism. By a margin of 53% to 29% Pakistanis say it is important that relations between the two countries improve.
Moreover, many endorse U.S. assistance for the Pakistani government in its fight with extremist groups. Nearly three-fourths of those interviewed (72%) would support U.S. financial and humanitarian aid to areas where extremist groups operate. As many as 63% back the idea of the U.S. providing intelligence and logistical support to Pakistani troops who are combating these groups. And after being asked about these forms of cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S., nearly half (47%) then say they would favor U.S. missile strikes against extremist leaders.
It is not surprising that American cooperation with the Pakistani military is popular, given the confidence that Pakistanis have in it. As many as 86% say the military is having a good influence on the country, which is far greater than the number who feel that way about the police (39%), courts (58%) and even religious leaders (64%). Just 36% say the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is having a good impact, although many respondents (41%) do not offer an opinion.
These are the latest findings from the 2009 Pew Global Attitudes survey of Pakistan. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 1,254 adults in Pakistan between May 22 and June 9, 2009. The sample, which is disproportionately urban, includes Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). However, portions of Baluchistan and the NWFP are not included because of instability. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were not surveyed. The area covered by the sample represents approximately 90% of the adult population.1 (Pakistan was surveyed as part of the Spring 2009 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, which included 24 nations and the Palestinian territories. For more findings from this survey, see “Confidence in Obama Lifts U.S. Image around the World; Most Muslim Publics Not So Easily Moved,” released July 23, 2009).
Concerns About India
Long-running concerns about India are also reflected in the poll. The dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir is cited as a major problem facing the country by no fewer than 88%. And growing worries about extremism notwithstanding, more Pakistanis judge India as a very serious threat to the nation (69%) than regard the Taliban (57%) or al Qaeda (41%) as very serious threats. Most Pakistanis see the U.S. as on the wrong side of this issue: by a margin of 54% to 4% the U.S. is seen as favoring India over Pakistan.
While fears about India persist, Pakistanis express overwhelmingly positive opinions about another Asian giant — 84% have a favorable view of China and 80% consider China a partner to their country.
Support for Severe Laws
One of the ironies in the survey is the extent to which Pakistanis embrace some of the severe laws associated with the Taliban and al Qaeda, even as they reject Islamic extremism and these extremist groups. The new poll finds broad support for harsh punishments: 78% favor death for those who leave Islam; 80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery; and 83% favor stoning adulterers.
Pakistani public opinion departs significantly from the Taliban on the issues of girls’ education and extremist violence. As many as 87% of Pakistanis believe it is equally important for boys and girls to be educated. The poll also finds that support for suicide bombing that targets civilians in defense of Islam remains very low. Only 5% of Pakistani Muslims believe these kinds of attacks can often or sometimes be justified; as recently as 2004 roughly four-in-ten (41%) held this view. Fully 87% now say such attacks can never be justified — the highest percentage among the Muslim publics included in the 2009 survey.
Breaking Down Views Toward the Taliban and al Qaeda
Analysis of the survey data finds a number of important patterns regarding views of the Taliban and al Qaeda. First, both groups are unpopular across the board. Among all the major subgroups within Pakistani society analyzed in the study, negative views of the Taliban and al Qaeda outweigh positive views.
Second, support for both groups is low even among those who agree with some of the severe punishments endorsed by the Taliban and al Qaeda, such as stoning adulterers, cutting off the hands of thieves and executing people who leave Islam. Still, those who disagree with these harsh measures are somewhat more likely to express an unfavorable view of both groups. For instance, among Pakistanis who support the death penalty for people who leave Islam, 69% have a negative view of the Taliban, while 77% of those who oppose the death penalty in such cases give the Taliban a negative rating.
Third, education plays a role in views about extremism. Pakistanis with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to reject the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Fourth, the Taliban and al Qaeda tend to be unpopular across regions, including the NWFP, where government forces are currently fighting extremist groups. However, Sindh stands out as the region with the most negative views. For example, 82% in Sindh have a negative opinion of the Taliban, compared with 75% in the NWFP and 67% in Punjab. More than half in Baluchistan do not offer opinions about the Taliban or al Qaeda.
Fifth, and perhaps unsurprisingly, views about the Taliban are linked to the extent to which people believe the country is threatened by extremist groups. Analysis of the data shows that people who think extremist groups may be able to seize control of the country are more likely to voice negative views about the Taliban, which has been engaged in armed-conflict with the Pakistani military.
Also of Note:
The nation-state is of great significance to Pakistanis, and despite important ethnic and regional differences, national identity is strong throughout the country. Overall, 89% say they think of themselves first as Pakistani, rather than as a member of their ethnic group.
- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s ratings have plummeted: Last year, 64% had a favorable opinion of him; now just 32% hold this view.
Zardari is much less popular than the other public figures tested: opposition leader Nawaz Sharif (79% favorable), Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani (67%) and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (61%).
About seven-in-ten (72%) want the U.S. and NATO to remove their military troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Only 16% approve of Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.
- In 2008, 53% said the economy would improve in the next 12 months. This year, only 23% believe the economy will get better.
The Pakistani media receives very high ratings — 77% say it is having a good influence on the country.
While views about national conditions are overwhelmingly negative, most Pakistanis are upbeat about their personal lives — 74% say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their overall lives, and most are satisfied with their family lives and incomes. Nonetheless, compared with other nations, levels of personal satisfaction in Pakistan are relatively low.
Latest Survey released on July 1st by World Public Opinion
Most Pakistanis now see the Pakistani Taliban as well as al Qaeda as a critical threat to the country–a major shift from 18 months ago–and support the government and army in their fight in the Swat Valley against the Pakistani Taliban. An overwhelming majority think that Taliban groups who seek to overthrow the Afghan government should not be allowed to have bases in Pakistan.
However, this does not bring with it a shift in attitudes toward the US. A large majority continue to have an unfavorable view of the US government. Almost two-thirds say they do not have confidence in Obama. An overwhelming majority opposes US drone attacks in Pakistan.
These are some of the results of a new WorldPublicOpinion.org poll conducted May 17-28, 2009. The nationwide random sample included 1000 Pakistani adults, selected using multi-stage probability sampling, who responded in face-to-face interviews. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percent.
“A sea change has occurred in Pakistani public opinion. The tactics and undemocratic bent of militant groups–in tribal areas as well as Swat–have brought widespread revulsion and turned Pakistanis against them,” comments Clay Ramsay, research director. However, he adds: “It’s crucial to understand that the US is resented just as much as before, despite the US having a new president.”
There has been a huge increase in those who think the “activities of Islamist militants and local Taliban” are a critical threat to Pakistan–a 47 point rise to 81 percent, up from 34 percent in late 2007. If the Pakistani Taliban were to gain control of the country, 75 percent say this would be bad (very bad, 67%)–though only 33 percent think this outcome is likely.
Seventy percent say their sympathies are more with the government than with the Pakistani Taliban in the struggle over Swat. Large majorities express confidence in the government (69%) and the military (72%) to handle the situation. Retrospectively, the public leans (by 45% to 40%) toward thinking the government was right to try to make an agreement in which the Pakistani Taliban would shut down its camps and turn in its heavy weapons in return for a shari’a court system in Swat. But now 67 percent think the Pakistani Taliban violated the agreement when it sent its forces into more areas, and 63 percent think the people of Swat disapprove of the agreement.
On the Afghan Taliban, an overwhelming 87 percent think that groups fighting to overthrow the Afghan government should not be allowed to have bases in Pakistan. Most (77%) do not believe the Afghan Taliban has bases in Pakistan. However, if Pakistan’s government were to identify such bases in the country, three in four (78%) think it should close the bases even if it requires using military force.
Public attitudes toward al Qaeda training camps follow the same pattern. Those saying the “activities of al Qaeda” are a critical threat to Pakistan are up 41 points to 82 percent. Almost all (88%) think al Qaeda should not be allowed to operate training camps in Pakistan. Though 76 percent do not believe there are such camps, if the Pakistani government were to identify them, 74 percent say the government should close them, with force if necessary.
This striking new public willingness to see the government directly oppose Taliban groups and al Qaeda owes little or nothing to an “Obama effect.” A 62 percent majority expresses low confidence in President Obama to do the right thing in world affairs (none at all, 41%). Only one in three (32%) think his policies will be better for Pakistan; 62 percent think they will be about the same (26%) or worse (36%).
Views of the US remain overwhelmingly negative. Sixty-nine percent have an unfavorable view of the current US government (58% very unfavorable)–essentially the same as in 2008. Eighty-eight percent think it is a US goal to weaken and divide the Islamic world (78% definitely a goal). The US Predator drone attacks aimed at militant camps within the Pakistani border are rejected by 82 percent as unjustified. On the war in Afghanistan, 72 percent disapprove of the NATO mission and 79 percent want it ended now; 86 percent think most Afghans want the mission ended as well.
Asked about the nation’s leaders, a large majority–68 percent–views President Zardari unfavorably (very, 50%), but–unlike the recent past–there are multiple national leaders whom most do view favorably. Prime Minister Gilani is seems untarred by negative views of Zardari and gets favorable ratings from 80 percent of Pakistanis. The restored Chief Justice Chaudry is very popular (82%), and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is extremely popular (87%). The leader most associated with the Pakistani Taliban, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, is viewed positively by only 18 percent of Pakistanis.
WorldPublicOpinion.org is a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. Funding for this research was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Calvert Foundation.