Philippines a Strong Exception in Int'l Survey Showing Tilt Towards Kerry

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Pacific Rim Bureau ( - An international survey of opinions about the U.S. presidential campaign shows the Philippines topping a list of 35 countries when it comes to support for President Bush and backing for his policies.

In 31 of the 35 countries surveyed by the University of Maryland's program on international policy attitudes, respondents said they would prefer to see Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry win in November.

The exceptions were the Philippines (which favored Bush by 57 points to 32), Nigeria (33-27), Poland (31-26) and Thailand (33-30).

Under President Gloria Arroyo, the Philippines has been a strong supporter of the U.S. in the post-9/11 war against Islamic terrorism, a relationship that last year won the South-East Asian country the same "major non-NATO ally" status as enjoyed by such U.S. allies as Australia and Japan.

Manila and Washington had a fallout in mid-July, however, after Arroyo withdrew troops from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq to appease terrorists there who kidnapped a Filipino and threatened to kill him.

In the aftermath of that decision, commentators in the Philippines reacted strongly to the criticism from Washington, and some analysts predicted anti-U.S. sentiment would grow.

The Philippines leg of the international survey by the program on international policy attitudes (PIPA) and an international polling firm, GlobeScan Inc. was carried out during July, the same period when the country was caught up in the two-week hostage saga.

PIPA and GlobeScan said in a statement that 34,000 people in 35 countries were surveyed between May and September. Overall, one-third of respondents did not express a preference - 17 percent said it made no difference which candidate won, and another 17 percent did not provide an answer.

Apart from the Philippines, Poland, Thailand and Nigeria, respondents in all the other countries in the survey backed Kerry. The margin in India was the narrowest, with Kerry leading by 34 percentage points to 33.

The others included eight members of the coalition in Iraq - the Netherlands (Kerry by 63 points to 6), Norway (74-7), Kazakhstan (40-12), Italy (58-14), Britain (47-16), Czech Republic (42-18), Japan (43-23) and the Dominican Republic (51-38) - and former coalition member Spain (45-7), which withdrew from Iraq after Socialists won an election last March.

The remainder were Canada (61-16), France (64-5), Germany (74-10), China (52-12), Russia (20-10), Turkey (40-25), Sweden (58-10), Indonesia (57-34), Brazil (57-14), Venezuela (48-22), Colombia (47-26), Argentina (43-6), Mexico (38-18), Uruguay (37-5), Peru (37-26), Bolivia (25-16), Kenya (58-25), Ghana (48-24), Tanzania (44-30), South Africa (43-29), Zimbabwe (28-6).

All of those surveyed were also asked whether Bush's foreign policy decisions had affected their feelings about the U.S., one way or another.

On average, 53 percent of respondents said the policy made them feel "worse" about the U.S., while 19 percent said it made them feel "better."

In only three countries did a majority or plurality of respondents say Bush's policies made them feel better about the U.S. - the Philippines (58 percent better - 27 percent worse), Thailand (36-30) and India (38-33).

The strongest negative views of U.S. foreign policy were held in Germany (where 83 percent of respondents said the policies made them feel worse), France (81), Mexico (78), China (72), Canada (71) and the Netherlands (71).

Perhaps surprisingly, Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic country, was among the countries where opinion was more evenly divided: 49 percent of respondents said the foreign policies made them feel worse about the U.S., but 44 percent said the policies made them feel better.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow