Military intervention in Libya has failed to secure majority support among the public in five main participating countries, with more Americans and Italians opposed than in favour, according to a Financial Times survey.

Results of an FT/Harris online poll conducted among six countries showed 37 per cent of Americans to be against military intervention in the north African country and 32 per cent in favour. In Italy, those opposed outnumbered supporters by 49 per cent to 29 per cent.

France registered the highest degree of support with 40 per cent lined up against 31 per cent opposed. Germans, whose government under Angela Merkel stayed out of the campaign, were 39 per cent against intervention and 34 per cent in favour.

Britons were broadly divided with 37 per cent for and 36 per cent against. Spain also saw a narrow plurality in favour of the military campaign.

The poll of 6,241 adults was conducted between March 30 and April 4.

The relatively high number of Italians saying they were against intervention follows a consistent pattern of opposition to military adventures that has in the past united pacifists on the left with isolationists on the far right, as well as Catholics.

A more recent poll by Ipsos for the daily Corriere della Sera – conducted after April 25 when Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister, decided to commit his centre-right government to joining air strikes in Libya – found that 76 per cent of Italians were opposed to the move and only 19 per cent were in favour.

The findings reflect the rift within Mr Berlusconi’s coalition, with his hardline Northern League allies furious at the prime minister’s U-turn under pressure from Washington and Paris. Parliament on Tuesday is due to debate several motions on Italy’s policy towards Libya, with the Northern League seeking a vote on a motion that would set a time limit for Rome’s participation.

The FT/Harris poll also pointed to broad intervention fatigue, with only the Spanish public expressing a narrow plurality of support for similar interventions to “protect civilians” in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Iran but not in Saudi Arabia.

The Spanish were also alone in identifying the US as the “greatest threat to global stability” with 20 per cent of that view. Americans, Germans and Britons saw North Korea as the biggest danger, while French and Italians picked Iran. Almost an equal number of French saw China as the greatest threat, while 10 per cent of Americans polled put their own country in that category.

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