/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, a new 17-nation poll conducted for the BBC World Service finds widespread and growing optimism that his presidency will lead to improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world.
The poll also shows people around the world are looking to President Obama to put highest priority on dealing with the current global financial crisis.
In 15 of the 17 countries polled, majorities think that the election of Barack Obama will lead to improved relations with the rest of the world. On average 67 percent express this upbeat view, while 19 percent think relations will stay the same and just 5 percent that relations will worsen. This is up sharply - by 21 points among tracking countries - from polling done for the BBC World Service six months ago, before Obama was elected
Asked to rate six possible priorities for the Obama Administration, the top priority in all 17 countries polled was the global financial crisis. On average 72 percent said that it should be a top priority.
This was followed by withdrawing US troops from Iraq - with 50 percent saying this should be a top priority - then addressing climate change (46%), improving America's relationship with the respondent's country (46%), brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians (43%), and supporting the government of Afghanistan against the Taliban (29%).
The results are drawn from a survey of 17,356 adult citizens across 17 countries conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between November 24, 2008 and January 5, 2009.
"Familiarity with Obama seems to be breeding hope," commented Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes. "But then again," he added, "he is starting from a low baseline, following eight years of an unpopular US president. Maintaining this enthusiasm will be a challenge given the complexities he now faces."