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Germany rated top global leader for third year in a row, survey finds

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Gallup surveyed thousands about the leadership of four global leaders.
Gallup surveyed thousands about the leadership of four global leaders.   -   Copyright  AP Photo: John Thys (Pool), Patrick Semansky (File), Mark Schiefelbein, Markus Schreiber
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Germany is the top-rated global power for the third consecutive year, according to a new survey of adults in more than 100 countries.

The nation's approval rating amongst residents of 135 countries was at 44 per cent in 2019, up from the previous year when it slipped under 40 per cent.

Approval was much higher for the European country than for the US, China and Russia, which were in second, third and fourth place respectively with 33 per cent, 32 per cent, and 30 per cent approval ratings.

The survey results were based on interviews with 1,000 adults in each country polled by US analytics company Gallup from March 2019 to February 2020.

Residents were asked whether or not they approved of US, German and Russian leadership in 135 countries, and Chinese leadership in 136 countries.

Gallup editor-in-chief Mohamed Younis said the findings were not surprising.

"Longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel, loved or hated, has been one of the most predictable leaders in highly uncertain times in both Europe and the global order established after the Second World War," Younis said in the 2019 report introduction.

"The image of U.S. leadership, on the other hand, remains relatively weak," he added.

What do Europeans think?

That image is particularly weak in Europe, where approval of US leadership declined significantly after the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.

Approval of US leadership in Europe was at just 24 per cent, followed closely by 23 per cent approval of China and 19 per cent approval of Russia, according to the Gallup survey.

Europeans' approval of the US initially dropped from 44 per cent in 2016 to 25 per cent in 2017.

"Portugal posted a 51-point decline in approval ratings, followed by a loss of 44 points in Belgium and a 42-point drop in Norway [after 2016]", the report said.

Amongst Italians, approval of US leadership has dropped every year from 59 per cent in 2016 to 22 per cent in the most recent survey.

Residents in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Kosovo, Ukraine and Albania, meanwhile, were more likely to approve of US leadership than disapprove in 2019.

Respondents' approval of the US increased by ten points or more in Belarus, Latvia and Poland.

"The ratings of U.S. leadership in Poland were the highest in Gallup’s record in 2019, reflecting the warm relationship between President Andrzej Duda and Trump since 2017," the Gallup report said.

European approval of Germany, meanwhile, was higher than the global rating - at 56 per cent.

The residents were all surveyed prior to the coronavirus crisis, which has further influenced perceptions of the United States — currently the most-impacted country by the pandemic with more than 4.3 million cases and over 149,000 deaths.

Two-thirds of people polled by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) last month said their perception of the US was becoming increasingly negative.

The ECFR survey found that 46 per cent of French respondents and 42 per cent of Germans said their views of the US had worsened "a lot" as a result of the pandemic.