A new poll shows the public are somewhat gloomy about the future, fearing a “worldwide conflict” is looming.
With superpowers backing different sides in the bloody conflict in Syria, Isis continuing to fight in the Middle East, a spate of terrorist attacks across the globe and Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both talking a tough game, the YouGov survey of 9,000 people across nine countries found popular opinion thinks world peace has rarely been further away.
People in the US were most likely to predict a world war, while French, German and British people were also pessimistic.
Some 64 per cent of Americans think the world is close to a major war, compared to just 15 who think world peace is likely.
Britons are only slightly more hopeful: 19 per cent believe peace is possible but 61 per cent say war is a distinct possibility.
In contrast, people in Nordic countries including Sweden, Finland and Norway were much less inclined to believe the world is on the brink of war. Denmark had the population most cheerful about the prospects of peace: 39 per cent of Danes predicted world peace compared to 45 per cent forecasting the opposite.
Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political and social research, said: “Fear seems the highest in the US and France, but for different reasons.
“American fears perhaps reflect some people’s uncertainly about the impending Trump Presidency.
“For France, I suspect fears are linked more to the threat of terrorism – the French public were the least likely to see Russia as a hostile threat to the EU, but by far the most likely to think that there would be another major terrorist attack on their country in the year ahead.”
The same survey revealed people in Europe and America tended to see Russia as a major military threat, with British people the most fearful of Moscow even though other countries polled, such as Finland and Germany, are much closer geographically to the former Soviet Union.
Some 71 per cent of Britons feel threatened by Russia, compared to 59 per cent of Americans – the lowest of all the countries polled.
In every nation except Finland, those surveyed thought a terrorist attack in their country was more likely than unlikely in the next year.
French people were most concerned about terrorism, with 81 per cent believing an attack would happen compared to just 11 per cent predicting there would be none.
An attack was also predicted by a large majority of people in Britain, Germany and the US. In Finland, however, only 26 per cent of people forecast a terrorist strike with 63 per cent saying such an event was unlikely.