Obama Remains Popular in Europe

A newly-released survey shows that U.S. President Barack Obama is vastly more popular in Europe than his predecessor, George W. Bush, but that transatlantic differences remain on critical foreign policy issues and global challenges. 

The annual public opinion poll, conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or GMF, shows that 77 percent of respondents in the European Union plus Turkey approve of President Obama's handling of international affairs.  By comparison, just 19 percent backed former President Bush's foreign policies in 2008.

GMF Transatlantic Fellow Bruce Stokes presented the findings at a Washington forum.  He said the so-called "Obama bounce" is the biggest ever recorded for a U.S. president in modern history.

"The numbers jump in an almost not-credible fashion," said Stokes.  "If this did not reflect the findings that other surveys have found as well, [then] one might want to question these numbers.  But the reality is we feel very confident in these numbers because others surveys have found similar results."

The upswing in sentiment toward America's president is most pronounced in Western Europe.  German approval, for example, jumped 80 percent since Mr. Obama came to office.  Eastern European nations also recorded higher favorability ratings for the U.S. president, but the increase was more modest.  Half of Turkish respondents back Mr. Obama, compared to 8 percent that supported President Bush.

According to Bruce Stokes, the difference in public sentiment across Europe is significant.

"Western Europeans are just much more confident in President Obama than Central and Eastern Europeans," he said. "Central and Eastern Europeans, over half the population has confidence in the president. That is not bad.  It is just compared to Western Europe that you see a real distinction."

Is Mr. Obama's popularity in Europe bridging transatlantic gulfs over thorny international and global questions?  Not to any significant degree, according to the poll.  At a time of expanding U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan, a majority of Europeans are pessimistic about the prospects for achieving stability in the country and favor reducing or withdrawing NATO troops deployed there.

When it comes to Iran, a smaller percentage of Europeans than Americans favor maintaining a military option to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear arsenal.

On combating global warming, the poll shows Europeans, on average, are far more concerned about climate change than Americans.

"If these differences cannot be bridged, it is quite likely that the Obama honeymoon [in Europe] could be shortlived," said Bruce Stokes.

But the poll showed continued majority support in Europe for NATO, as well as a free market and liberalized trade.  The survey did not reveal strong resentment against the United States for its role in precipitating last year's global financial crisis.

The presidential popularity findings mirror a global poll conducted earlier this year by the Pew Research Center.  The Pew survey concluded that -- with the exception of Israel -- much of the world has come to view the United States more favorably under President Obama's leadership.

At home, Mr. Obama's favorability ratings have declined in recent months.  The latest Gallup poll shows 52 percent of Americans approve of the president's performance, down about 20 points from the early weeks of his administration.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs