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latest european anti-war figures

  1. ericbaume

    374 Posts.

    By William Horsley
    BBC European Affairs analyst

    An opinion poll in Germany this week makes it look almost as if the Germans now see the US - not Iraq - as the main threat to world peace.
    The Forsa poll found 57% of Germans held the opinion that "the United States is a nation of warmongers".

    Only 6% said they think President George W Bush is concerned with "preserving peace".

    Anti-war demonstrations are taking place across Europe
    From Germany there is also evidence of damage to the overall image of the US.

    A new Emnid poll conducted in Berlin found that 54% percent of Berliners under 30 years old have a "mostly negative" association with the US as a country, against 36% who see it as "mostly positive".

    The evidence of other recent military conflicts, including the first Gulf war against Iraq in 1991 and the 1999 conflict over Kosovo, is that public opinion can turn in favour of western governments when a war is waged and won.

    One thing is clear. Most western European nations see a clear United Nations mandate as crucial to winning their support for military action.

    In five EU countries, according to an EOS Gallup poll, that backing could not be won even with UN support for war.

    These are the findings from that poll published in January 2003:

    These anti-war figures are high compared to similar polls conducted before other US-led wars in recent times, including the first Gulf war, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
    In each of those, military action was seen as being a reaction to aggressive action by an "enemy".

    In the case of Iraq now, President George W Bush is advocating pre-emptive action.

    US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld offended the French and Germans by calling them, and others who stood against the US strategy on Iraq, "old Europe".

    77% Irish

    72% Portuguese

    78% Finns

    79% Danes

    79% Italians

    81% Luxembourgers

    81% Swedes

    85% Austrians

    He saw the countries of "new Europe" further east as the more willing allies.

    That is true of the political leaders of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the "Vilnius Ten", all of whom have signed public letters of support for the US lead.

    Yet public opinion in eastern Europe is even more hostile to war than in the west.

    A Gallup International poll of a few days ago found low support in the region for war, even if sanctioned by the UN - just 38% in Romania, 28% in Bulgaria and 20% in Estonia.

    The figure for Russia was 23%.

    And in Turkey, polls have consistently found an overwhelming majority to be against war on Iraq.

    Yet the pro-Islamic government there says it will allow the US to use Nato bases in Turkey.

    Decisive factor?

    So public opinion, however strong, may not be the decisive factor in how a country acts.

    And as the case of Germany's Chancellor Schroeder shows, a leader who has strong backing for his anti-war stance may find that is not enough.

    Mr Schroeder was a big loser in the latest two regional elections.

    And in a poll last month 60% of respondents said the German nation as a whole would like to see "less and less" of Mr Schroeder in future.

    Only 5% thought he would grow more popular.

    The rest said there would be no change, or were undecided.

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