EVERYONE knows that President Obama's ratings have been slipping in the United States, but how well is he regarded in the rest of the world after nearly 18 months in office? The American-based Pew Research Center has been finding the answer to this question by interviewing 25'000 people in 22 countries -- a massive research project that it has been undertaking for the last five years. The answer is that opinion of President Obama has held up well and even improved, except in Muslim countries where it has fallen because of his failure to make progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. A particularly big drop of 10 per cent was registered in Egypt where only 17 per cent of those questioned said they now had a favourable view of the president; it was in Egypt one year ago that Obama made his speech about improving relations with the Arab world. Perhaps surprisingly, Obama's stock improved in China and in Russia there was a 13 per cent improvement to 57 per cent -- although almost one-third of Russians questioned identified America as their “enemy”. In Europe percentages in the high 80s trusted Obama to “do the right thing” in foreign affairs -- Germany, France and Britain showed the highest levels of support.

The Pew Center says it follows the same polling disciplines for these worldwide polls as it does for its well-respected US research.