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News / Nation & World

U.S. leadership gets high marks in global survey

Russia garners lowest ratings

The Columbian
Published: April 21, 2015, 5:00pm

WASHINGTON — The United States under President Barack Obama has the highest approval for leadership among world powers for the second consecutive year, with 45 percent of those surveyed worldwide rating it favorably in a Gallup Poll.

President Vladimir Putin’s Russia drew the lowest ratings, with 22 percent of those polled in 134 countries viewing him positively and 36 percent disapproving of his leadership, Gallup managing director Jon Clifton said as the survey taken last year was presented Tuesday in Washington.

“Countries affiliated with the West, particularly NATO countries, soured on Russia dramatically,” according to Gallup’s summary of the survey. “And, at the same time, Russians and people in many of its former republics — chiefly Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — all felt much more negatively about the leadership of the U.S., the EU and Germany.”

Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel had the second-highest ratings, with a 41 percent positive appraisal. Views of Germany, which as Europe’s biggest economy has been at the center of efforts to stabilize the 19-nation euro area after the European recession in 2009, saw its rating rise by at least 10 points in 11 nations.

Germany’s ratings increased in the euro-area nations that received bailouts except for Greece. Germany has led countries pressing Greece to prove it can satisfy the terms of its $257 billion bailout program. Approval of the European Union leadership followed Germany’s at 39 percent.

Disapproval of EU leaders was highest in Russia, where 70 percent of the population surveyed saw EU leaders negatively. Large majorities in three EU member states — Greece, Britain and Italy — also viewed the EU leadership poorly.

While the U.S. ratings were the highest, they were 4 percentage points lower than in the 2009 poll after Obama took office, when 49 percent of those surveyed said they saw U.S. leadership positively. Within the U.S., 42 percent of respondents told Gallup they approved of Obama last year, while 35 percent said they had favorable opinions of overall “U.S. leadership.”

The most negative views of the U.S. leadership globally were in Russia, where only 4 percent of respondents said they saw the U.S. in a positive light.

Majorities in 41 nations, including the U.S. and 23 of the 28 EU member states, had negative views of Russia’s leadership, a substantial increase in disapproval since Russia’s intervention to support separatist rebels in Ukraine a year ago. In Russia, 83 percent of respondents approved of Putin.

Across Ukraine, views of Russia plunged 42 points after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula, with only 5 percent of Ukrainians viewing the Russian leadership favorably. Gallup surveyed all of Ukraine, including the country’s more Russian- leaning eastern and southern regions, except for Crimea and parts of the rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk regions where security was an impediment, the pollsters said.

China’s leadership under President Xi Jinping had a 29 percent positive rating, a 28 percent negative rating and 32 percent with no opinion. Majorities in 28 survey areas, including the U.S., Japan and Hong Kong, disapproved of China’s leadership. Russians’ approval of China’s leaders rose 17 points to 42 percent last year.

The annual poll, started in 2007, is conducted by Washington-based Gallup, and includes analysis by Meridian International Center, a Washington-based global leadership and diplomacy organization.

The survey involved about 1,000 in-person or telephone interviews with adults in each of 134 nations plus Hong Kong over the course of last year, with a margin of error of as much as plus or minus 5.2 percentage points for the overall results.