Who knew Chirac was so personally popular in the Lebanon? More popular than he is in France?
Marc Lynch carries the results of a poll of Lebanese public opinion with some fascinating results. Apparently, a majority of Lebanese admire El Presidente, although not a majority of Shia. They rather like Hugo Chavez! In fact, they admire Chavez more than Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, although they would rather have Ahmedinejad in charge than him.
Nobody has confidence in the United States. Neither does anyone believe in “spreading democracy”. The biggest level of support for an Islamic state, among the Sunnis, didn’t break 5 per cent. (Is that the famous Jihad Chill?) Everyone said they were Lebanese first. Only the Christians put their religion second. (Everyone else put Arabness second.) 71 per cent overall said an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 green line would improve their opinion of the US. Over 50 per cent of Shia (i.e. Hezbollah’s base) supported a two state solution.
When asked which nation should be a superpower for preference, France came out marginally ahead overall, with Russia in second place, then China, then the US. Germany drew 10 per cent of the Shia vote but no votes from anyone else. Britain wasn’t an option. Interestingly, the Shia were the only group not to pick France, with Russia no.1, then China, then Germany. Everyone except the Druze picked France as a candidate for emigration by a large majority. The Druze were the only group to go for the US, but only by a bare plurality. Asked where they would rather send a family member to study, France was the first choice of all groups but the Druze, who plumped for Germany. (Curiously, no two groups agreed whether Germany or Britain was more democratic, but everyone thought France was more democratic than the US, Germany, or Britain.)
On the leader question, Chirac was in the 30s-40s in all groups but the Shia. They went for Chavez, then Ahmedinejad, then Fidel Castro (!). The Druze picked Vladimir Putin as a second choice, rather oddly considering they didn’t care for Russia, with Nelson Mandela in third place. Chavez picked up votes from the Sunni (second place), and the Christians, where he was third, behind George Bush – which one, alas, wasn’t stated.
Equal numbers of Druze sought the leadership of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Condoleeza Rice(again, !), whilst a majority went for Chirac. A small faction of Sunnis held a candle for Saddam Hussein. Shia and Sunni Lebanese were united in loathing for Bush, who was more despised than Ariel Sharon among the Shia. Now that’s saying something. The Christians and Druze both ranked Bush as their number 2 hate behind Bashar al-Assad, but still ahead of Sharon and Ehud Olmert.
More than 50 per cent of each group thought that clergy should keep out of politics. More than 60 per cent of each group supported a Palestinian unity government. The only good thing anyone saw in Al-Qa’ida was that they were fighting the Americans, which didn’t amount to more than 15 per cent overall.
A fascinating exercise overall, and wouldn’t I love to see figures for Tony Blair? More seriously, I suspect quite a few people will be surprised to see the popularity of Chavez and Castro. Then again, Shia Amal’s full name is “Movement of the Deprived”.