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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 12:04 GMT
Survey finds optimism in new Iraq
An Iraqi boy gives a "thumbs up" to an Iraqi soldier
The poll found Iraqis think their lives will improve in the coming year
An opinion poll suggests Iraqis are generally optimistic about their lives, in spite of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the US-led invasion.

But the survey, carried out for the BBC and other media, found security fears still dominate most Iraqis' thoughts.

Their priority for the coming year would be the restoration of security and the withdrawal of foreign troops.

A majority of the 1,700 people questioned wanted a united Iraq with a strong central government.

Hopes for future

Key findings in more detail

The poll by Oxford Research International was commissioned by the BBC, ABC News and other international media organisations, and released ahead of this week's parliamentary elections in Iraq.

Although most Iraqis were optimistic about the future, the poll found significant regional variations in responses.

In central Iraq respondents were far less optimistic about the situation in one year's time than those in Baghdad, the south and north.

The BBC News website's World Affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says the survey shows a degree of optimism at variance with the usual depiction of the country as one in total chaos.

Iraqi Survey Regions

The findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by US President George W Bush, he says.

However, our correspondent adds that critics will claim that the survey proves little beyond showing how resilient Iraqis are at a local level - and that it reveals enough important exceptions to the rosy assessment, especially in the centre of the country, to indicate serious dissatisfaction.

Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad.

When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse.

What ordinary Iraqis say about how life has changed

However, Iraqis appear to have a more negative view of the overall situation in their country, with 53% answering that the situation is bad, and 44% saying it is good.

But they were more hopeful for the future - 69% expect Iraq to improve, while 11% say it will worsen.

In all, 1,711 Iraqis were interviewed throughout the country in October and November 2005.


When asked to choose a priority for the new government due to be formed after this week's elections, 57% wanted to focus on restoring public security.

Chart: How much confidence do you have in...?
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Removing US-led forces from Iraq came second with 10%, while rebuilding the country's infrastructure was third.

Half of those questioned felt Iraq needed a single, strong leader following December's vote, while 28% thought democracy was more important.

However, opinions changed when people were asked about what Iraq would need in five years' time.

Support for a strong leader fell to 31% and that for democracy rose to 45%.

The support for democracy does not translate into support for Iraq's political parties.

Only 25% had confidence in Iraq's politicians - far lower than the 67% who trust its religious leaders and army.

Iraqi people in Baghdad share their thoughts

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