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US and China, which are the biggest superpowers now and are expected to continue to be in the next decade, are also viewed as a major destabilizing factor worldwide. Russia is not an exception but, compared to two years ago, is generating less fears than China. On the other hand, the EU is perceived as the most stabilizing factor, but is expected not to be at the table of the superpowers anymore. These are some of the conclusions deriving from the new global research on the perceptions of international superpowers and their policies, conducted by Gallup International Association, which BVA Doxa is funding member. The survey covers 45 countries around the world and more than 42.000 adult citizens, which represent about 2/3 of the global population.
MAIN LEADING POWERS IN THE GLOBAL POLITICAL MAP – In ten years, China and the United States will remain the leading powers – according to the majority of the surveyed population around the world. Russia is also perceived as a superpower, but with less certainty. According to the data, the European Union will not play a central international role, at least not as a superpower. The same applies to the United Kingdom, India and Japan, who are not perceived as future global superpowers either.
Over the recent years, China’s political influence has been gaining more and more attention around the world. The trade tension between China and the USA from the last few years have proven that China is one of the leader nations on the political map. That is possibly why people around the world are now most certain about China being a superpower in 2030: over three fourths of the people in West EU and more than two thirds of people in Latin America share this opinion. People in India seem to reject the possibility for China being a superpower in 2030. Among regions and largest countries, India is also the only place where the share of those who disagree that China will be a superpower in a decade is bigger than the one of those who agree. However, this certainly reflects the level of hostility, which should be taken into consideration when interpreting the data. Hesitant on this matter seem also people in Asia as a whole and in Russia.
Overall, 56% of the people around the world agree that in 2030 the USA will still be a superpower. People in the Middle East, East Asia and (expectedly) USA seem to be the most confident in this perspective. Respondents in Russia, Africa and West Asia, on the other hand, are most prone to disagree that USA will be a superpower 10 years from now.
Two out of five respondents worldwide believe that Russia will be among the international superpowers in the foreseeable future. More than a third disagree. Significant is the share of those who cannot form an opinion. People in Latin America, the Middle East and non-EU European countries are more likely to believe in Russia’s major role in international relations. Yet, Russians themselves are not so sure about that: despite a third agrees that Russia will be among the main actors around the Globe, 41% disagree. The least confident in Russia’s supremacy are namely people in Russia, besides people in Asia.
Japan will be a superpower in 2030 according to a third of the world’s population, while almost a half disagrees. The biggest shares of agreement are registered in Latin America and the Middle East. On the other hand, those who disagree are more likely people in Europe, Russia and Asia. The least expected to be a tomorrow’s superpower is India: only 16% of the respondents worldwide say that in 10 years the country will represent a major international factor. The citizens of India, yet, are firmly convinced, that their country will be a superpower in 2030 (79%).
The majority of people around the world do not expect the UK to be a superpower at the end of the current decade. This view is expressed by more than a half of the respondents. The regional analysis shows that citizens of Europe are among the key skeptics when it comes to UK’s international role in 10 years. People in the Middle East are keener to believe in UK’s international importance. The share of skeptics, though, is the highest one even there.
INTERNATIONAL SUPERPOWERS PERCEIVED AS DESTABILIZING FORCES – The USA are expected to continue to be a superpower, but at the same time the States are perceived as the most destabilizing force. More than a half of the respondents around the world thinks so. People in the Middle East and Russia view the USA as predominantly destabilizing, but also citizens of Europe (with significant shares in the West EU countries), West Asia and Latin America. The States’ policies are considered as stabilizing mainly in India and (but not so prominently) in East Asia.
The attitudes towards the USA’s policies have remained unchanged over the past few years – in 2018 and 2019 the shares of those who considered the States as stabilizing (28% in 2018 and 31% in 2019) and destabilizing (56% in 2018 and 54% in 2019) are practically the same as the ones in the current wave of polling. The new administration in the USA might bring some changes in the global picture, changes that only further waves of data collection can confirm or not.
Most of the people worldwide think that Russia’s policies are rather destabilizing too: about a half of the respondents describe Russia as a destabilizing power. India is among the big nations and regions worldwide where people are most confident in Russia’s stabilizing role as a superpower. Citizens of Russia also perceive their country as rather stabilizing, though with less confidence. The attitudes towards Russia’s policies are also rather consistent with previous measurements.
Perceptions about China worldwide are identical to those about the USA and Russia – about half of the surveyed consider the country as a destabilizing international factor, while a third sees China as rather stabilizing. China’s policies are viewed rather stabilizing in the regions of West Asia and Africa. Most confident in the opposite statement are people in the EU, the Middle East, India and East Asia.
THE ROLE OF EUROPE – According to the majority across the globe, EU is not considered to be one of the superpowers worldwide. A third however believes the opposite. More optimistic towards the importance of EU on international level are people in the Middle East and Latin America. More sceptic seems the Europeans themselves, especially the western EU citizens.
Although not expected to remain a superpower in 10 years, the EU is the only current superpower evaluated worldwide as a rather stabilizing factor on the political map – the highest share of the answers around the globe is in favor of that opinion. Two out of five consider the EU stabilizing, a third says it is destabilizing for the world and a fourth hesitates in answering. On a global scale, mainly the Europeans view the EU as a stabilizing power, but also people in Latin America and East Asia. On the other hand, people in the Middle East and Russia believe the EU is rather a destabilizing superpower.
Overall, the share of those who perceive the European Union as a stabilizing factor has decreased by 8 percent points within a year. Thus, it seems that there is no international superpower that is perceived as stabilizing by a strong majority, a far from promising result considering the pandemic the world is facing.
AND WHERE DO ITALIANS STAND? – According to Italian respondents, the country most likely to be a superpower in 2030 is China, with 75% of Italians declaring so. Right after China, Italians indicate as superpowers the USA (63%) Russia (58%), Japan (51%), India (23%), while only 19% believe the UK will be among them. Just like the citizens of the European Union, only 18% of Italians believe the EU itself will be a superpower but, on a bright side, 33% of them think about the EU as a stabilizing factor on the global political map. The European Union is considered by Italians the most stabilizing factors on the international scenario, followed by Russia (28%), the USA and China (both 26%).
Survey conducted between October and November 2020, either face to face, via telephone or online. Survey conducted in: Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia*, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, UK, USA, Vietnam.