The US enjoyed a huge surge of popularity within Germany in 2009 when Obama succeeded President George W. Bush – after a barnstorming appearance in Berlin while he was still candidate.
But the 64 percent favourable opinion of the US shown in Germany in 2009 has dropped to 52 percent today, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre. Its researchers asked 1,000 people in Germany, and similar sized sample groups elsewhere for the report published on Wednesday.
The Obama era has coincided with major changes in international perceptions of American power, the Centre said in its report – and in particular, US economic power.
Solid majorities in many European countries name China as the world’s economic leader – with Germany leading the field with a 62 percent share of people who say the Chinese are top dogs in the world economy.
The study continues to say that unease is being caused by American military action, in particular the drone strikes on terrorism suspects that have become a hallmark of Obama’s more recent strategy.
Although 62 percent of Americans approve of the campaign, in 17 of 20 other countries surveyed, more than half the people disapprove of it. In Germany just 38 percent of those asked approved, with 59 percent saying they disapproved. France was even more opposed though, with 37 percent in favour and 63 percent opposed.
However, Germans and Europeans want to see Obama re-elected in November, with the French most enthusiastic with 92 percent keen to see him have a second term, followed by the Germans with 89 percent in favour.
It would seem the attitudes people have towards the US generally are linked to how they feel about the President – with the percentage of people in Germany, France and Spain who have a positive view of the States remaining at least 20 percentage points higher than it was in 2008.
Yet there seems to be a certain complacency, or possibly lack of interest since the election four years ago which brought Obama to power. Then 56 percent of Germans said they were following the race to the White House closely, whereas now that figure is just 36 percent.