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Global Poll Shows Public Support for Taliban Negotiations

22 June 2011 - Negotiating with the Taliban is the public’s preferred strategy for NATO to adopt in Afghanistan, rather than trying to defeat the Taliban or withdrawing troops immediately, according to the results of a BBC World Service 24-nation poll released today.

The results of the GlobeScan/PIPA poll of more than 24,000 people indicate that more would prefer to see NATO negotiate with the Taliban on a peace agreement that would include them in the government (40%) than favour either a continued effort to defeat the Taliban militarily (16%) or an immediate military withdrawal (29%). The most common view in 18 countries is that NATO should negotiate, in three that NATO should withdraw and in just one that NATO should seek a military victory. In two other countries opinion is divided.

The poll was conducted between December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011, which was before the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US forces.

The poll suggests that support for continued military action is low among the countries contributing to the current NATO war effort in Afghanistan. Across the ten countries surveyed who have contributed troops to the operation, only 23 per cent of those asked think the alliance should persist with its military strategy, while 30 per cent favour an immediate pullout and 37 per cent would rather see a negotiated settlement. NATO member Germany and Afghanistan’s neighbour Pakistan emerge as the countries most likely to want an immediate withdrawal of forces—nearly half (47%) of those polled favour this option in both countries.

The results suggest that even Americans are ambivalent about a continuation of the Afghan conflict—while a higher proportion in the USA than in other countries (42%) support a continued effort to defeat the Taliban militarily, a majority of Americans favour either an immediate troop withdrawal (23%) or a negotiated peace settlement with the Taliban (29%).

Those surveyed in countries with an Islamic majority are heavily opposed to a continuation of the military effort against the Taliban, with just 9 per cent of respondents in those countries supporting it. But less than half favour an immediate withdrawal of forces (39%), while nearly as many would prefer to see a negotiated settlement involving talks with the Taliban (32%).

Results are based on 24,284 in-home or telephone interviews conducted across a total of 24 countries by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. The findings about attitudes towards the Afghan conflict are the latest results to be released from the BBC World Service/GlobeScan/PIPA 2011 global poll – a wide-ranging study fielded between December and February that also looked this year at perceptions of China, and ratings of different countries’ influence in the world.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA comments, “Neither simply withdrawing nor fighting to the end hold much appeal to people around the world. The centre of gravity of world opinion seems to be to negotiate an end to the conflict, even if it means the Taliban will be part of the government.”

Doug Miller, Chairman of GlobeScan, said: "Most people across the world, including in America, do not support the current NATO emphasis on defeating the Taliban militarily.”

In total 24,284 citizens in 24 countries, were interviewed face-to-face, or by telephone December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. In eight of the 24 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

For more details, please visit www.GlobeScan.com


Participating Countries

In Brazil, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, and Turkey urban samples were used.

country map

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 180 million globally (2010), 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
American and Canadian respondents’ views on the strategy that NATO should adopt in Afghanistan are contrasting. While a plurality of Americans surveyed favours the option of continuing the fighting to defeat the Taliban militarily—42%, the highest percentage in the survey and well above the 16% global average, only one Canadian in four polled agrees with this strategy. Canadians prefer the solution of a negotiated peace that could include the Taliban in the Afghan government. This is favoured by 39 per cent of them—in line with the global average (40%)—while only 29 per cent of Americans lean this way. Almost one in three Canadians surveyed (28%) favours an immediate withdrawal of NATO’s troops, somewhat more than the proportion in the US (23%).

Latin America
Respondents from all Latin American countries surveyed strongly think the best strategy for NATO to adopt in Afghanistan is to negotiate with the Taliban. A majority of Brazilians polled think this (51%), and strong pluralities in Peru (46%) and Mexico (45%) also favour this option. The strategy of an immediate withdrawal is also more popular in Mexico than in most countries surveyed (38%, above the global average). Latin Americans in general are not keen for NATO to pursue its military operation to defeat the Taliban. This strategy is supported by only 6 per cent of Peruvians polled (second lowest percentage in the survey) and 12 per cent in Mexico. Seventeen per cent of Brazilians in the survey agree with this option, in line with the global average (16%).

Europe
In Europe, the strategy of continuing the military effort is supported by relatively small proportions of respondents, except in Spain. This is even more striking as all European countries surveyed except Russia are part of NATO. Germans, Russians, and Turks favour the option of an immediate withdrawal of NATO’s troops. This is particularly acute in Germany, where close to a majority of those polled agrees military withdrawal is the best option for NATO (47%, tied with Pakistan for the highest percentage in the survey). The rest of the European countries surveyed would prefer a strategy involving negotiations with the Taliban that could include them in an Afghan government. More than 40 per cent of respondents lean this way in France, Portugal, Italy, and the UK, but only 37 per cent do so in Spain, where a higher proportion of those polled still supports the military effort as a strategy to follow (28%, compared to 16% globally—the third highest percentage in the survey).

Africa
Most of the African countries surveyed prefer the solution of negotiations with the Taliban as the best strategy for NATO to follow in Afghanistan. The proportions of respondents leaning this way vary from 39 per cent in Ghana to 43 per cent in South Africa and Nigeria, to 46 per cent in Kenya. Egyptians are divided between the options of immediately withdrawing (34%, higher than the global average of 29%) and negotiating with the Taliban (32%, below the global average). Very few Africans support the strategy of continuing the military efforts to defeat the Taliban, with proportions below or in line with the 16% global average in each country.

Asia
In Asia, views regarding the best option to follow for NATO in Afghanistan are contrasting. Pakistani respondents, in closest proximity to the Afghan conflict, favour immediate withdrawal of NATO’s troops, in the same proportion as do the Germans (47%). Indonesian respondents also support the option of a withdrawal in quite large numbers (38%, above the 29% global average) but are somewhat more in favour of starting negotiations with the Taliban (43%). So are the Filipinos and the Chinese, who have the strongest proportions leaning this way (74% and 53%, respectively). Australia is the only country to be divided between negotiating a peace agreement with the Taliban that could include them in a government (35%) and continuing the military effort to defeat the Taliban (32%). This makes Australia the closest country in attitudinal terms to the Americans. Indian respondents do not have any clear preference on the topic. They are the only respondents to be evenly split between the three options and with very high proportions without any opinion (47%).

Methodology

In total 24,284 citizens in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the USA were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by GlobeScan and its research partners in each country.

In Brazil, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, and Turkey urban samples were used. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.0 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

CountrySample Size (unweighted)Field datesSample frameSurvey methodologyType of sample
Australia 800 December 4, 2010 – January 14, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Brazil 401 December 2, 2010 – January 5, 2011 18–69 Face-to-face Urban1
Canada 902 December 20, 2010 – January 18, 2011 18+ Telephone National
China 1000 December 18–31, 2010 18+ Telephone Urban2
Egypt 1011 December 5–12, 2010 18+ Face-to-face Urban3
France 807 December 13–17, 2010 15+ Telephone National
Germany 1017 December 12, 2010 – January 3, 2011 16–70 Telephone National
Ghana 1000 December 14–29, 2010 18+ Face-to-face National
India 1168 December 22, 2010 – January 8, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Indonesia 1000 December 6, 2010 – January 11, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban4
Italy 1004 January 17–28, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Kenya 1000 January 3 – February 4, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Mexico 1000 December 15, 2010 – January 14, 2011 18+ Telephone Urban5
Nigeria 1000 December 16–24, 2010 18+ Face-to-face National
Pakistan 2452 December 12–26, 2010 18+ Face-to-face National
Peru 1107 January 4–11, 2011 18–69 Face-to-face National
Philippines 800 December 14, 2010 – January 9, 2011 18+ Face-to-face Urban6
Portugal 1002 December 9, 2010 – January 17, 2011 18–75 Telephone Urban7
Russia 1010 December 23, 2010 – January 18, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
South Africa 1000 December 3, 2010 – January 27, 2011 18+ Face-to-face National
Spain 802 December 20, 2010 – January 3, 2011 18+ Telephone National
Turkey 1000 December 8–20, 2011 15+ Face-to-face Urban8
United Kingdom 1001 December 3–16, 2010 18+ Telephone National
USA 1000 December 4, 2010 – January 13, 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 Egypt the survey was conducted in Alexandria, Cairo, Giza, and Shubra El-Kheima, representing 24 per cent of the national population.

    4 In Indonesia the survey was conducted in Bandung, Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, and Surabaya, representing 27 per cent of the national adult population.

    5 In Mexico the survey was conducted in Baja California, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico City, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Yucatán, representing 40 per cent of the national adult population and 80 per cent of the residential telephone landlines.

    6 In the Philippines the survey was conducted in the National Capital Region, representing 27 per cent of the urban adult population.

    7 In Portugal the survey was conducted in Almada, Amadora, Beja, Braga, Castelo Branco, Évora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisbon, Loures, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Vila Nova de Famalicão, Vila Nova de Gaia, and Viseu, representing 25 per cent of the national 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
Australia Populus Data Solutions London Patrick Diamond
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+44 207 553 4148
Brazil Market Analysis Florianópolis Fabián Echegaray
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+55 48 3364 0000
Canada GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
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+1 416 969 3073
China GlobeScan Toronto Oliver Martin
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+1 416 969 3073
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 (extn. 223)
Indonesia DEKA Marketing Research Jakarta Irma Malibariirma
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+62 21 723 6901
Italy GfK Eurisko s.r.l. Milan Paolo Anselmi
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+39 02 438091
Kenya Research Path Associates Ltd. Nairobi Jeremy Mwololo
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+254 20 2734770
Mexico The Mund Group Mexico City Cristina Montaño
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+52 55 5584 3020 / 2470
Nigeria Real Edge Research Options 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
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
Portugal Sperantia Queijas Sandrine Lage
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+351 214 177 418
Russia CESSI Institute for Comparative Social Research Moscow Vladimir Andreenkov
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+7 495 650 55 18
South Africa First Principles Cape Town Louise Gardiner
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+27 72 615 9780
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 Toronto Patrick Diamond
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+44 207 553 4148

Question Wording

Questionnaire

Thinking now about the situation in Afghanistan where US-led NATO forces are fighting the Taliban…
M8

Do you think that NATO should…?

  • 01 Withdraw its forces now
  • 02 Negotiate with the Taliban on a peace agreement that would also include them in the government
  • 03 Continue with the effort to defeat the Taliban militarily
  • VOLUNTEERED (DO NOT READ)
  • 04 None of the above
  • 99 DK/NA

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