BBC poll: Germany most popular country in the world

 
A German football supporter waves national flags on top of a car on the Kurfuerstendamm, Berlin. A majority of people polled on all continents said Germany had a positive influence on the world

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Germany is the most positively viewed nation in the world in this year's annual Country Ratings Poll for the BBC World Service.

More than 26,000 people were surveyed internationally for the poll.

They were asked to rate 16 countries and the European Union on whether their influence in the world was "mainly positive" or "mainly negative".

Germany came out top, with 59% rating it positively. Iran was once again the most negatively viewed.

Global views of Europe's most populous country have improved significantly in 2013, according to the poll.

It was conducted for the BBC by GlobeScan and PIPA, who conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with randomly selected people in 25 countries.

Of those countries, 22 have been surveyed two years in a row, so become the tracking countries on which the average ratings are based.

These averages exclude the target country's rating of itself. So for example, the opinions of Germans on Germany are excluded, meaning the country's average rating is based on 21 tracking countries.

Risers and fallers

  • More positively viewed than in 2012 - UK, Canada, France
  • More negatively viewed than in 2012 - China, USA, Russia
View of India deteriorates

A three-point increase in Germany's average rating returned it to the top of the BBC list, displacing Japan, which saw its positive ratings drop from 58% to 51%, and fell from first to fourth place overall.

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says the poll results may be a reward for diligent German diplomacy. Government ministers frequently tour countries with markets for German goods, or countries like Mongolia with raw materials for German products, he says.

There were high positive ratings for Germany in recession-hit Spain and France - though not in Greece - despite the well-publicised placards depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as a Nazi, paraded during anti-austerity protests in Europe.

Analysis

Who can doubt that there'll be a little more spring in the step of Chancellor Merkel because of what the poll reveals about attitudes to Germany?

After a year when she has been depicted offensively on placards in a Nazi uniform, in protests from Athens to Madrid, it turns out that many admire the country.

And in surprising places. In Spain, the recipient of a bailout with tight German strings attached, 68% said they felt Germany had "a mainly positive influence in the world".

In Britain, it was even higher at 78%. In France 81% - the poll indicates that four in every five French people look over the border with approval!

Only Greece maintains its Germanophobia, with 52% giving a negative rating.

Will the poll matter? It might well. It may confirm German ministers in their belief that tough love is true friendship.

The poll results may also be a reward for diligent diplomacy. Government ministers frequently tour countries with markets for German goods (or countries like Mongolia with raw materials for German products). Political clout isn't the driving force - it's trade.

This may be why some African countries (which have close trading ties and which exchange ministerial visits with Berlin) are approving.

Ghanaians, for example, have a very favourable attitude toward Germany, with 84% approving. Germany has a very active trade presence in Ghana.

The UK saw a bigger increase in positive ratings than any other country and climbed to third place in the table, in the wake of its hosting of the 2012 Olympics.

The poll also indicates that positive views of China and India have fallen sharply around the world over the last year. After improving for several years, views of China have sunk to their lowest level since polling began in 2005, putting it in ninth position.

India is ranked 12th, with negative views (35%) slightly outnumbering positive ones (34%) for the first time.

But Germany, whose economy has done better than almost every other in Europe in recent years, scored well across the world.

In Ghana, 84% of people polled said Germany's influence was mainly positive, while 81% in neighbouring France and 76% in Australia felt the same. But in debt-laden Greece a majority of people polled gave Germany negative ratings.

Positive views of the EU dropped to their lowest level last year but have stabilised this year, rising one point to 49% on average.

But this figure masks significant changes. There has been a sharp drop in positive ratings by Germans, down 14 points to 59%. Canadians and Americans both give significantly lower ratings to the EU. In the UK, positive views of the EU continue to fall steadily and, for the first time this year, more Britons rate it negatively (47%) than positively (42%).

Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran came out worst in terms of how they are viewed globally. Only 15% of respondents said they saw Iran as having a mainly positive influence.

results of poll
 

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