Global Support for Country Engagement in World Affairs Up in 2012

But Local National Economic Assessment Can Temper Taking Action

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Halifax, NS—More global citizens today than in 2011 agree that their country has a responsibility to be a moral leader (77%, +2 points) and should help the growth of democracy (77%, +1) in the world a new poll by global research company Ipsos conducted for the Halifax International Security Forum indicates. Further, the 24 country poll shows that more agree today than in 2011 (65%, +2) that their country should assist less developed economies.

But a strong proportion of global citizens also continue to agree their country should focus more on domestic issues at home (79%, no change since 2011) than abroad given current difficult economic times. As such, while there may be more citizen desire to help outside of their own country it’s counterweighted by the need they witness at home on the economic front that’s an arbiter on what action may be taken by governments.

Established in 2009, the Halifax International Security Forum is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Halifax is a forum and a network for leaders from militaries, governments, business, academia, and the media to work together to meet emerging security threats and discuss pressing global issues. Halifax is important to the global security community because it promotes closer cooperation among democratic leaders and helps build partnerships across borders and sectors, creating strategies to strengthen international security. The fourth-annual Halifax International Security Forum will take place November 16-18, 2012 in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada.

The poll demonstrates the empirical link between citizen national economic assessment and potential support for international engagement: those citizens who view the current state of their national economy to be “bad” are considerably more likely to agree their country should focus more on domestic issues (80%) than those who assess their economy as “good” (69%).

One Year Later, Support for Involvement in Global Affairs is Stronger...

Eight in ten (77%, +2) respondents agree (34% strongly, 43% somewhat) that their country has a responsibility to be a ‘moral leader in the world and set an example for other countries to follow’ while two in ten (23%) disagree (7% strongly, 16% somewhat).

  • Those in Canada are most likely to agree their country should be a moral leader in the world (89%), followed by France (88%), India (87%), South Africa (86%) and South Korea (86%). About half of those in Spain (53%) agree, followed at the bottom of the list by Argentina (58%), Italy (64%), Belgium (69%) and Mexico (71%).

Three quarters (76%, +1) of global citizens agree that their country should help the growth of democracy in the world (29% strongly, 48% somewhat) while two in ten (23%) disagree (6% strongly, 17% somewhat).

  • India (88%), Mexico (86%), Turkey (85%), South Korea (84%), Argentina (82%) and Swede (82%) are most likely to agree with this statement. Even those countries expressing the softest support still reflect majorities in agreement: Russia (69%), Hungary (69%), France (69%), Australia (71%), Great Britain (71%) and United States (64%).

Six in ten (63%, +2) agree that their country should assist other nations that have less developed economies (18% strongly, 47% somewhat). They are countered by one in three (35%) who disagree (10% strongly, 25% somewhat).

  • The strongest support for this viewpoint is found in India (85%), South Korea (78%), Japan (78%), Turkey (72%) and China (72%). Only one in three of those in Hungary (36%) agree, followed by Belgium (55%), United States (57), France (57%) and Great Britain (58%) as the countries least likely to agree with the statement.

But Perspective on Own National Economy Continues to Temper Enthusiasm in Global Involvement...

The poll helps demonstrate that how citizens view their current national economy (good versus bad) can temper how they view what their potential role should be in the world elsewhere.

First, Eight in ten (79%, unchanged from 2011) agree (42% strongly, 37% somewhat) their country needs to focus less on the world and more at home, given the difficult economic issues in their country today. Two in ten (21%) disagree (4% strongly, 17% somewhat).

  • This viewpoint is held most strongly by those from South Africa (90%), Hungary (89%), Turkey (88%), The United States (87%) and Poland (85%). Majorities of those countries at the bottom of the list also agree with the statement: Sweden (54%), Germany (69%), Canada (72%), South Korea (73%), Italy (75%), Australia (75%) and Belgium (75%).

When cross tabulated with the list of potential roles abroad, those considering the current state of their national economy to be “bad” (very and somewhat) are considerably more likely to agree their country should focus more on domestic issues (80%) than those who assess the economy as “good” (69%).

Ergo a simple assessment of the results: if things seem more economically dire at home the pressure for governments to focus more on domestic forays than those in the international arena makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to act without domestic political risk.

But this shows that these two courses—the role of governments at home and abroad—are not mutually exclusive. What the research profiles is a rank list of countries that may be more constrained than others to make certain commitments to engaged partners and stakeholders abroad. As such, it’s the flexibility of the evident fulcrum that can help demonstrate the variable constraint on the ability of a government to prioritize or balance its in-country to out-of-country responsiveness.

The following are some of the key findings in graph and chart format:

(Click to enlarge image)

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Global @dvisor poll conducted between September 4th and September 18th, 2012. The survey instrument is conducted monthly in 24 countries via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting herein are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. An international sample of 17,172 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis with the exception of Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Russia and Turkey, where each have a sample 500+. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and one of 500 is accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points in their respective general populations. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. For more information on credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website at

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker
Ipsos Global Public Affairs

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,363 billion (1.897 billion USD) in 2011.

Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

Global Support for Country Engagement 
in World Affairs Up in 2012


Darrell Bricker
CEO, Global
Ipsos Public Affairs