From a post on Content Matters: Despite Web and Cable, Americans Remain Oblivious to Public Affairs…."or so say the findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center.The study, entitled "What Americans Know: 1989-2007" assesses public knowledge of leaders and news events, as compared to 1989. We might have assumed that the advent of 24-hour news combined with the abundance of websites and blogs would have resulted in a more educated public, but that’s not the case. According to the Pew study, our knowledge of public affairs today is roughly the same as it was eighteen years ago."
From the Pew study: "More than nine-in-ten Americans (93%) could identify Arnold Schwarzenegger as the California governor or a former action-movie star — both responses were counted as correct in the scoring. An equally large proportion of the public identified Hillary Clinton as a U.S. senator, a former first lady, a Democratic leader, or a candidate for president. Clear majorities can also correctly identify Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (65%) and Sen. Barack Obama (61%). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recognized by about half of the public (49%). Other prominent national figures and world leaders are not as well known. When asked to name the president of Russia, just 36% recalled Vladimir Putin."
I imagine that similar results would be obtained if a sample of the British public were asked to identify political figures in the UK and mainland Europe. Most of them would probably get Schwarzenegger, though.