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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 September 2005, 00:00 GMT 01:00 UK
Americans 'back church leaders'
Forty percent of people in the US would like religious leaders to be given more power, a Gallup International poll commissioned by the BBC World Service suggests.

In the US and Canada, 49% of people said they trusted religious leaders, compared to a global average of 19%.

This would seem to confirm the view of many that religion played a big role in President Bush's victory, analysts say.

The results for 14 Spanish-speaking Latin American states suggest there is

little trust in politicians.

Sample size:
US/ Canada 1,505
Lat America/Caribbean 8,718
Margin of error:
US/Canada +/-2.5%
Lat America/Carib +/- 1.1%
Source: BBC/Gallup International

Only 4% of Latin Americans questioned said they trusted politicians - compared to 13% of people globally - and just over one-third felt that elections in their country were free and fair.

BBC regional analyst James Painter says that with several presidential votes coming up in the region, it will make sober reading for politicians.

More than four out of five Latin Americans who took part in the poll said their family had had the most influence on decisions they had taken in their lives, one of the highest levels in the world.

Latin Americans also appear to be positive about their abilities to change their life - 65% of respondents said they believed there were things they could do to change their lives.

Similar levels were found in North America, where 84% of Canadian interviewees said they felt empowered to change the direction of their own lives.

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