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Adults in Five Largest European Countries and the US Believe Angela Merkel is Most Favorable and George Bush is Most Influential World Figure


ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A new Harris Interactive/France 24/International Herald Tribune survey conducted online by Harris Interactive® among a total of 6,257 adults (aged 16-64) in France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and the United States and adults (aged 18-64) in Italy between October 29 and November 6, 2008 finds that:

* In each of the five European countries the world figure that people have the strongest opinion of is the Dalai Lama. In the United States, he comes in second, while former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is first;
* Looking at an average of all six countries, the Dalai Lama comes in as the world leader people have the strongest opinion of (71% have a favorable opinion), followed by Angela Merkel of Germany (54%), Tony Blair (51%), Pope Benedict XVI (47%) and Nicolas Sarkozy of France (44%). At the bottom of the list is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (7% have favorable opinion), Bashar al-Assad of Syria (10%) and Hu Jintao of China (10%);
* While some leaders may not be perceived favorably, they may be seen as influential. US President George Bush is seen as most influential in Great Britain (68% say he has a great deal of or some influence), Italy (75%), Spain (77%) and the United States (64%) while Vladimir Putin is seen as having the most influence by Germans (71%) and French adults (68%);
* In looking at the average for all six countries, George Bush is seen as most influential (70%) followed by Vladimir Putin (64%) and Angela Merkel (60%). Rounding out the top five influential leaders is Nicolas Sarkozy (58%) and Gordon Brown (53%). Perceived to be least influential are Bashar al-Assad (20%), Fidel Castro of Cuba (21%) and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil (21%);
* A popularity/influence index was also created combining these two different questions and Angela Merkel comes on top in Italy (73%), Spain (68%), France (68%) and Germany (67%) while Tony Blair is on top in the United States (58%) and The Dalai Lama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown are on top in Great Britain (44% each); and,
* Looking at the average for all six countries combined, Angela Merkel comes in at top (57%) followed by the Dalai Lama (54%), Nicolas Sarkozy (51%), Tony Blair (50%) and Pope Benedict XVI (47%).

So What?

There are many things that make a leader influential in the eyes of the world – power, ability to work with other countries and a strong military are just some reasons. But, it is for these reasons that George Bush and Vladimir Putin both come in at the top of the influence index. When it comes to opinions of these two world figures, there is definitely a difference – sometimes, the most influential are not well-liked as in a list of 19 world figures Putin and Bush rank 13th and 14th respectively. However, Angela Merkel seems to be able to balance the two pieces – she is number two in favorability and number three in influence. Maybe other leaders should look to her leadership style for pointers.


This Harris Interactive/France 24/International Herald Tribune study was conducted online by Harris Interactive among a total of 6,257 adults (aged 16-64) within France (1,045), Germany (1,034), Great Britain (1,087), Spain (1,007) and the United States (1,032), and adults (aged 18-64) in Italy (1,052) between 29 October and 6 November 2008. Figures for age, sex, education, region and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult populations of the respective countries. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls and of the British Polling Council.


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