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Iranian Confidence in Government Under 50% for First Time

Iranian Confidence in Government Under 50% for First Time

by Steve Crabtree

Story Highlights

  • 50% of Iranians lack confidence in their national government
  • Just 6% approve of U.S. leadership
  • More than four in 10 see their living standards getting worse.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Amid an economic crisis and a health crisis that has seen the country become the coronavirus' epicenter in the Middle East, Iranians' confidence in their national government has fallen below 50% for the first time since Gallup's tracking began. In a Gallup World Poll conducted in August 2020, 47% of Iranians said they had confidence in their national government, while 50% said they did not.

Line graph. Trend line showing Iranians' confidence in their national government since 2011.

The current figure is part of an ongoing trend in Iranians' declining confidence in their national government, which had been relatively stable at roughly seven in 10 adults between 2012 and 2016. The biggest drop occurred between 2016 and 2018, after the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal established in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, which had previously led to the easing of international sanctions on the country.

Though Iranians' confidence in their own government dropped significantly in 2018, their views of U.S. leadership changed even more. In 2017, 19% of Iranians said they approved of the job performance of U.S. leaders, while 42% disapproved and 38% said they didn't know. In 2018, the "disapprove" figure rose to 85% -- mostly accounted for by a sharp drop in the percentage who said they didn't know.

The change suggests many Iranians who hadn't formed an opinion of the Trump administration in its first year were soured on it when the U.S. abandoned the nuclear deal.

Line graph. Trend showing Iranians' approval and disapproval of the job performance of U.S. leadership since 2011.

Along with their confidence in government, Iranians' perceptions of their economic status changed substantially in 2018. In 2017, Iranians were about twice as likely to say their standard of living was getting better as they were to say it was getting worse -- 47% vs. 23%, respectively. Those trends saw a dramatic reversal in 2018 as the proportion who said their living standards were getting worse surged to 43%, similar to the 44% reading in 2020.

Line graph. Trend in Iranians' outlook for their living standards since 2011. More than four in 10 Iranians see their economic situations getting worse rather than better.


Previous Gallup surveys have shown the extent to which news about sanctions can affect Iranians' economic optimism and perceptions of their personal living standards. President Hassan Rouhani was reelected in 2017, thanks in part to his efforts to end the country's isolation and reengage with the global economy. However, he may have been politically weakened by the reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The 2020 poll was conducted before the Trump administration imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran in September, targeting the country's entire financial sector, with the goal of forcing Iran back into negotiations over its nuclear program. However, the move came as Iran was reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising concerns that the new restrictions will complicate efforts to deliver medical supplies and humanitarian aid to Iranians. With Iran's next presidential election scheduled for June 2021, it remains to be seen whether the public's declining confidence in government will translate to a return to more conservative leadership.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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