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Iraqi Public Opinion Poll Finds Overwhelming Support for Democratic Future - 2003-12-01

A survey of Iraqi public opinion, released in Britain, finds overwhelming support for a democratic future, and relief that the Saddam Hussein regime is gone.

The first national survey of Iraq was published Monday by Oxford Research International, a British-based private consultancy group.

The researchers conducted more than 3,200 interviews in all parts of Iraq during October and November.

Among the key findings, nearly nine out of 10 people questioned said Iraq needs a democracy now, while seven in 10 also said a strong leader is required.

More than four out of five people said democracy may have problems, but it is better than any other form of government.

And almost 90 percent said the government must represent all the main groups in their ethnically and religiously divided society.

Still, most respondents said they are not interested in politics. Fewer than two in five say they have talked about politics with other people.

There was what the survey calls "overwhelming" agreement among those questioned that the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime was the best thing that has happened in the past 12 months, while the worst thing was the war, bombings and defeat.

But the survey discovered very little gratitude toward the U.S. and British troops who toppled Saddam Hussein. The survey concludes that occupation forces are "the most mistrusted institution in Iraq today."

Only one in five respondents said they have either a great deal, or quite a lot of confidence in the foreign troops, while Iraqi religious leaders ranked as the most trusted, with 70 percent approval.