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Widespread Support for Arab Spring Protests: Global Poll


15 December 2011 - At the end of a year that has seen multiple revolutions in the Middle East, a new BBC global poll across 22 countries shows that a narrow majority thinks the Arab Spring protests were a good thing.

The poll, conducted by GlobeScan among 21,558 people, reveals that 55% on average see the protests as “mostly positive,” with just over a quarter (28%) feeling they were “mostly negative”, and the rest undecided.

The European nations polled are most likely to be upbeat about the Arab Spring. More than three-quarters of Germans (78%) and French (76%) say they see the protests as mostly positive—the highest proportions in the survey. Egyptians themselves are also mostly positive (72%)—though more than one in four disagrees (26%).

The poll was conducted before the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya and recent renewed unrest in Egypt and Syria.

Two of the three other African nations in the sample—Nigeria and Kenya—also have large majorities (67% and 65% respectively) who feel that the Arab Spring protests were mostly positive. Apart from those countries, however, the developing-world and middle-income countries polled are more ambivalent about the protests.

Russia is the only country where the balance of opinion is that the protests were mostly negative (31% positive, 43% negative). But there is significant ambivalence as well in Pakistan (40% positive, 35% negative) and in India (41% positive, 30% negative). In contrast, the clear balance of opinion in China is that the protests were a good thing (50% positive, 27% negative.)

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller says: “Support for the Arab Spring is widespread, but cautious. The findings suggest that outside of the stable democracies of Europe and North America, concerns about the potential of post-revolution instability may be moderating positive views—particularly in Russia, Pakistan, and India, three countries particularly sensitive to the threat of internal unrest.”

In total 21,558 citizens across 22 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between July 3, 2011 and September 16, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In eight of the 22 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

For more details, please visit www.GlobeScan.com 


Participating Countries

country map

In Brazil, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, and Turkey urban samples were used.

For detailed results, including country-by-country data for all key questions, please see the Key Findings page below.


Media Contacts

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

Sam Mountford, Research Director
GlobeScan Incorporated, London
+44 20 7928 5368
(Mobile: +44 7854 132625)
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Oliver Martin, Director, Global Development
GlobeScan Incorporated, Toronto
+1 416 969 3073
(Mobile: +1 416 721 3544)
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About GlobeScan

GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability, and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 quality certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco. For more information, visit: www.globescan.com

About BBC World Service

The BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 166 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice

Backgrounder: Region-by-Region Results

North America

Americans are quite upbeat about the popular upheavals across the Middle East this year. Sixty-four per cent think these events are mostly positive, nine points above the global average of 55 per cent.

Latin America

In Latin America, perceptions of the popular uprisings are positive overall. In each of the six countries surveyed in the region, there is either a large plurality or a majority of respondents who think the upheavals are mostly positive.

Panama is the country where the highest proportion welcomes the protests (59%), followed by Brazil (54%), and Chile (51%). But the most positive balance of support in Latin America is in Chile (+39%), with only 12 per cent saying they consider the protests to be mostly negative. Opinions in Mexico and in Peru are more muted, with pluralities of 49 and 40 per cent respectively who say that the popular movements in the Arab world are mostly positive.

Forty-seven per cent of Ecuadorians are of the same opinion, but with 42 per cent who think the protests are mostly negative (second highest proportion in the survey), they have the least favourable balance of support in Latin America, just narrowly positive (+5)—the second lowest balance figure seen in the survey, along with Pakistan.

Europe

In Europe, all surveyed countries except Russia are strong supporters of the Arab Spring protests. Support is particularly high among the EU nations. The Germans and the French are the most favourable, with 78 and 76 per cent respectively who think that these events are mostly positive—the highest and second highest proportions in the survey—well above the 22-country global average of 55 per cent.

Public opinion in Spain and in the UK is also very supportive of the events in the Middle East. Seventy per cent of Spaniards, and two-thirds of British (67%), perceive the protests as being mostly positive.

Support in Turkey is not as strong, but there is still a majority of 55 per cent of Turks who say that the popular uprisings are mostly positive—an identical proportion to the global average.

Russia is the only country where public opinion is not favourable to the protests. Only 31 per cent of Russians view them as being mostly positive (lowest percentage in the survey), while a plurality of 43 per cent perceives them as mostly negative (highest percentage in the survey). As a result, the balance of support in Russia is negative (-12), unique among the countries surveyed.

Africa

In Africa, there is a widespread support for the Arab Spring protests in three out of the four countries surveyed. Egyptians are the most favourable, with 72 per cent who think that the popular uprisings are mostly positive—the third highest percentage in the survey after Germany and France.

Public opinion in Nigeria and Kenya is also very supportive, with 67 and 65 per cent respectively who view the protests as being mostly positive, significantly above the 55 per cent global average.

Ghana contrasts with the other African countries surveyed in offering much more muted support for the protests. A plurality of 48 per cent of Ghanaians perceives the popular movements to be mostly positive, while 37 per cent see them as mostly negative, making the balance of support positive by only 11 points.

Asia

In Asia, support for the Arab Spring is less vocal than in the other regions. The Philippines and China are the Asian countries with the highest proportions who perceive the protests to be mostly positive (51% and 50%, respectively). However, Filipinos’ support is quite muted, as 41 per cent of the population view the protests as mostly negative (the third highest percentage in the survey). Just 27 per cent of Chinese respondents have negative views, which makes the Chinese the most favourable Asian country toward the Arab Spring events, with their balance of support at +23 points.

In Indonesia, a plurality of 46 per cent thinks that the popular upheavals are mostly favourable, while a third of the population (33%) leans the other way.

Indians’ and Pakistanis’ support for the protests in the Middle East is among the lowest in the survey. In these two countries, just four in ten respondents view the protests as being mostly positive (41% in India, 40% in Pakistan). The balance of support in India is positive by only 11 points, and is narrowly positive in Pakistan (+5).

Methodology

In total 21,558 citizens in Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between July 3, 2011 and September 16, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.

In Brazil, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Panama, the Philippines, and Turkey urban samples were used. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

 

CountrySample Size (unweighted)Field datesSample frameSurvey methodologyType of sample
Brazil 806 July 26 – August 15, 2011 18–69 Telephone Urban1
Chile 1200 August 18–29, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
China 1000 July 13–31, 2011 18+ Telephone Urban2
Ecuador 497 August 27 – September 16, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban3
Egypt 1005 July 16–29, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban4
France 503 August 16–18, 2011 15+ Telephone National
Germany 1013 July 8–27, 2011 16–70 Telephone National
Ghana 1037 July 25 – August 20, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
India 1254 July 15–29, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Indonesia 1000 July 3 – August 25, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban5
Kenya 816 August 5 – September 1, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Mexico 1000 July 23–28, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Nigeria 755 August 2–9, 2011 18–65 Face-to-face National
Pakistan 2400 July 18 – August 8, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Panama 750 August 9–22, 2011 18+ Telephone Urban6
Peru 1215 July 15–20, 2011 18–70 Face-to-face National
Philippines 800 July 23 – August 8, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban7
Russia 1006 July 22 – August 10, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Spain 501 September 1–10, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Turkey 1000 July 5–18, 2011 15+ Face-to-face Urban8
United Kingdom 1000 July 6 – August 23, 2011 18+ Telephone National
USA 1000 July 8 – August 18, 2011 18+ Telephone National
  1. In Brazil the survey was conducted in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo, representing 18 per cent of the national population.
  2. In China the survey was conducted in Beijing, Beiliu, Chengdu, Dujiangyan, Fenyang, Fuyang, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Manzhouli, Quanzhou, Qujing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shuangcheng, Wuhan, Xi'an, Xining, and Zhengzhou, representing 45 per cent of the national adult population.
  3. In Ecuador the survey was conducted in Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito, representing 52 per cent of the urban population.
  4. In Egypt the survey was conducted in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, and Shubra El-Kheima, representing 24 per cent of the national population.
  5. In Indonesia the survey was conducted in Bandung, Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, and Surabaya, representing 27 per cent of the national adult population.
  6. In Panama the survey was conducted in Panamá, Chiriquí, Colón, Coclé, Veraguas, Herrera, Bocas del Toro and Los Santos, representing 70 per cent of the adult population.
  7. In the Philippines the survey was conducted in the National Capital Region, representing 27 per cent of the urban adult population.
  8. In Turkey the survey was conducted in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Samsun, and Zonguldak, representing 56 per cent of the national adult population.

Research Partners

CountryResearch InstituteLocationContact
Brazil Market Analysis Florianópolis Fabián Echegaray This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+55 48 3364 0000
Chile Mori Chile Santiago Marta Lagos
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+56 2334 4544
China GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
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+1 416 969 3073
Ecuador Propraxis / Sigma Dos Quito Carlos Moreno
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+593 7 2888519
Egypt Attitude Market Research Cairo Mohamed Al Gendy
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+202 22711262
France Efficience 3 Paris and Rheims Christian de Thieulloy
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+33 1 4316 5442
Germany Ri*QUESTA GmbH Teningen Bernhard Rieder
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+49 7641 93 43 36
Ghana Business Interactive Consulting Limited Accra Razaaque Animashaun
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+233 302 783140 / +233 302 782892
India Team C Voter Noida Yashwant Deshmukh
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+91 120 4175200 (ext. 223)
Indonesia DEKA Marketing Research Jakarta Irma Malibari
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+62 21 723 6901
Kenya Research Path Associates Ltd. Nairobi Jeremy Mwololo
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+254 020 2734770
Mexico Parametria Mexico City Francisco Abundis
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+52 55 2614 0089
Nigeria Millward Brown Lagos Michael Umogun
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+234 802 311 7969
Pakistan Gallup Pakistan Islamabad Ijaz Shafi Gilani
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+92 51 2655630
Panama Dichter & Neira Panama City Gabriel Neira
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+ 507 236 4000
Peru Datum Lima Urpi Torrado
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+511 215 0600
Philippines M&S-Sigma Dos Philippines, Inc. Makati City Teodora Marasigan
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+63 2 8172780
Russia CESSI Institute for Comparative Social Research Moscow Vladimir Andreenkov
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+7 495 650 55 18
Spain Sigma Dos Int. Madrid Gines Garrido
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+34 91 360 0474
Turkey Yöntem Research Consultancy Ltd. Istanbul Bülent Gündoğmuş
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+90 212 278 1219
United Kingdom Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
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+44 207 553 4148
USA Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
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+44 207 553 4148

Question Wording

Question Wording

M2

As you may know, there have been large-scale protests across the Middle East this year that have led in some cases to the removal of heads of state and a move toward more democratic governments. Some people see these protests as positive because they will make democratic change more likely, while others see the protests as negative because they risk destabilising these societies.

Do you see these protests as mostly positive, or mostly negative?

  • 01 Mostly positive
  • 02 Mostly negative
  • VOLUNTEERED (DO NOT READ OUT)
  • 99 Don’t Know / Not applicable

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