A survey of citizens from 23 different countries has found most nations are unimpressed with their leaders' Covid-19 response - except for four countries - New Zealand, China, UAE and Vietnam.

Singapore-based independent pollster Blackbox Research and consumer intelligence platform Toluna, surveyed 12,592 people from 23 countries between April 3 and 19.

Political leaders from New Zealand, Vietnam and China were ranked highly by their citizens, scoring 67, 82 and 86 respectively.

However, Hong Kong, France and Japan ranked lowest, scoring just 27, 26 and 17.

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The overall rankings took into account national political leadership, corporate leadership, community and media.

While many Asian nations saw a positive response from their citizens, with only 7 scoring less than 50 of 100, many Western societies ranked poorly.

The United States scored 41, the UK 37, and Italy 36.

The respondents were interviewed via an online panel, aged between 18 and 80 and two-thirds of them had a tertiary level education.

Photo / Blackbox Research and Toluna / SCMP
Photo / Blackbox Research and Toluna / SCMP

David Black, founder and chief executive of Blackbox Research, said there were "major cracks" in western nations' self-belief, but praised Jacinda Ardern, revealing New Zealand was a shining outlier.

"We are also seeing major cracks in self-belief across the Western world. The outlier among them being New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership in effectively curtailing the Covid-19 spread has led to a favourable rating."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website


Jeremy Lim, associate professor at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said citizens' views were likely influenced by factors such as clarity of leadership to how countries were doing at the time of the survey, as well as whether they had made any obvious mistakes.

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He also pointed out leaders' decisiveness empathy would help sway the rankings.

"With these criteria in mind, China's central government and Vietnam would stand out as would New Zealand," said Lim.

"Japan and Singapore have the Diamond Princess and the migrant worker situations respectively as well as constant adjustment of policies which can lead to erosion of confidence that the government is on top of things if not communicated well," he said.

Japan received an alarmingly low ranking, with citizens criticising the government's lack of speed in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

Japan's Covid-19 infections ballooned to about 15,000 cases and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday extended a nationwide state of emergency until the end of May.

"The outlier among them being New Zealand where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership in effectively curtailing the Covid-19 spread has led to a favourable rating." Photo / File

Black said Tokyo was perceived as having been "slow to respond", hence its poor rating.

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The survey also revealed that almost half (48 per cent) of respondents felt China would emerge stronger from the crisis. Just 26 per cent of respondents said the same about the US.

Eighty-five per cent of mainland Chinese said China would emerge "stronger", while only 41 per cent of Americans felt the same of their country.

Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said this could be due to "propaganda messaging" in China.

"They would say that the communist way is performing well and they have the best strategy to deal with the virus."