Chinese President Xi Jinping topped both domestic and international ratings in a survey on the popularity of world leaders released this week. In the survey, published by Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, over 26,000 respondents from 30 countries evaluated the performance of 10 of the most widely recognized world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande,
In the national rankings, where respondents rate the performance of leaders from their own country, Xi received an average of 9 out of 10, higher than any other leader. Chinese respondents were more confident than those from any other country in how their leader handled domestic and internal affairs, with Xi topping the list at 94.8 percent and 93.8 percent respectively. Based on national performance rankings, Xi was followed by Putin (8.7), Modi (8.6), Zuma (7), Merkel (6.7) and Obama (6.2).
China’s party-controlled rags haven’t been sheepish in flashing Xi’s newfound status (to the rest of the world), although reports from Xinhua, China Daily and the like have conveniently omitted a few key points made by the Harvard study, as Bloomberg Businessweek points out. The study concluded that leaders in countries with greater state control over media would no doubt rate higher than free media nations.
“Where the media tends to be dominated by the government, it is not surprising that the citizens of those countries claim to pay more attention to their own leaders,” writes the Ash Center’s director, Anthony Saich, noting that 93.9 percent of Chinese report paying attention to Xi, compared with just 74.4 percent of Americans with Obama. “In countries where the press is more open and critical, we see that leaders receive lower ratings from their citizens.”
“We see a clear correlation between political systems and the ratings of their own leaders by the respondents. In countries where discussion of leaders is more constrained, the national leaders rate very highly,” Saich adds, citing China and Russia as examples.
Based on international scoring, the Chinese president nonetheless topped the list with a 7.5 rating, followed by Modi (7.3), Merkel (7.2) and Zuma (6.8). These results have been attributed to geopolitics, according to the Washington Post, also citing Saich.
The survey show’s Xi scoring well in Pakistan and Russia, as well as in Tanzania and Kenya and, to a slightly lesser extent, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. These range from geopolitical allies to beneficiaries of Chinese investment and countries where China’s economic model is attractive. He fares less well in rival nations like Japan and Vietnam, and in Western Europe.
[Image via Xinhua // Infographic via CRI]