Iran intensely disliked in survey of 14 top economies

A poll of 14 top economies around the world shows overwhelmingly unfavorable opinions of Iran, with the Islamic Republic being least popular in two Scandinavian nations sampled, according to a Pew Research Institute survey published Wednesday.

“Iran is viewed negatively by people in many countries around the world,” the institute said in a statement reviewing results of the survey.

The poll was carried out over the summer in Sweden, Denmark, Spain, The Netherlands, United States, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Australia, UK, France, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

The institute said the 14 countries were chosen according to where “nationally representative telephone surveys are feasible” as face-to-face polling is currently not possible due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Favorability rates for Iran in 14 top economies in a summer 2020 poll (Pew Research Institute)

“In all 14 countries surveyed, majorities had negative impressions of Iran,” the statement said. “The Scandinavian publics polled have the most biting assessments of the Islamic Republic, with over 8 in 10 in both Sweden and Denmark expressing distaste.

Swedes topped the rankings in their dislike of Iran with 84 percent having an unfavorable opinion, closely followed by Denmark where 83% had similar views. Positive views stood at 10% and 13% respectively.

Next came Spain (80% unfavorable, 14% favorable) and The Netherlands (78% unfavorable, 16% favorable), then the US (71% unfavorable, 16% favorable). Among Canadians, 61% held unfavorable views, but over a quarter (26%) said they had a favorable view.

Iran fared best in South Korea where only 56% had an unfavorable view while 35% were favorable. In Japan 59% held unfavorable views while 18% were favorable, with the rest not having an opinion on the matter.

Tourist information helpers wearing face masks walk along a popular shopping street in Seoul, South Korea, December 2, 2020. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

The median of all 14 countries was 71% unfavorable and 18% favorable. This made “critical views of [Iran] more common than unfavorable opinions of the US and about as common as negative assessments of China.”

In the same 14 countries, China had an unfavorable median of 73% while the US had an unfavorable median of 64% in the other 13 countries.

“In 11 of the nations polled, older people were more likely than younger people to give Iran poor marks,” Pew said. The largest gap was in Canada where 38% of 18-29 year-olds had unfavorable opinions but the figure jumped to 76% among those over the age of 50.

Favorability rates for Iran, China and US in 14 top economies in a summer 2020 poll (Pew Research Institute)

Political ideology also influenced public opinion of Iran, the survey found, and in general “those on the right had a more critical assessment of Iran than those on the left.”

In the US, supporters of Republicans and Democrats were both overwhelmingly negative in their opinions of Iran, at 82% and 70% respectively.

“Despite shifts in US-Iran relations since 2010, divides in assessments of Iran between parties have been largely stable over this time period,” the pollster noted.

“Iran once again has become a top focus of international tensions, with heightened concerns about its nuclear intentions coming on top of years of hostilities over its geopolitical ambitions in the Middle East,” Pew said.

The telephone survey polled 14,276 adults in the 14 countries from June 10 to August 3, 2020.

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