We knew he was hip, but “second best in the world?”

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon is the second-highest ranked world political leader who has the confidence of many people around the world.

Ban Ki-moon inspired more confidence than any other political leader polled, except United States President Barack Obama, the United Nations information centre in Pretoria said on Tuesday, referring to a survey by WorldPublicOpinion.org.

Coming in second behind Barack Obama — whose public speaking, I think we can agree, is a little more inspirational — is not too shabby for the South Korean.

The poll asked nearly 20,000 respondants in countries that represent 62% of the world’s population their impressions of world leaders.  From World Public Opinion:

US President Barack Obama has the confidence of many publics around the world – inspiring far more confidence than any other world political leader according to a new poll of 20 nations by WorldPublicOpinion.org. A year ago, President Bush was one of the least trusted leaders in the world.

What difference a year makes!  And for his part, it would seem that Asian publics propelled the Secretary General to second place.

Views of Ban Ki-moon are particularly positive in Africa and in Asia – nearly all Asian nations give him positive confidence scores led by South Korea (90%). Indonesia is an exception: views are divided. Large majorities in both Kenya (70%) and Nigeria (69%) express confidence in him.

Countries polled in Western Europe have confidence in the Secretary General, including Britain, Germany, and France, but Poland and Russia do not, and Ukraine is divided. A majority of Americans (57%) report little confidence in him, while Mexico leans toward having confidence (38% to 33%.)

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