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Kerry Leads in the (World Opinion) Polls

DW staff (jen)September 9, 2004

Germans -- and much of the rest of the world -- would like to see a change in U.S. leadership as the transatlantic alliance drifts further apart, a number of recent studies show.

The world is behind him, but will it matter to American voters?Image: AP

A poll of 35 nations released Wednesday showed that 30 countries would prefer to see John Kerry win the next presidential election, ousting George W. Bush. Just three nations came out in favor of the current regime.

The study, released by the Canadian opinion research firm Globescan and the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy and Attitudes (PIPA), polled some 34,000 people in 35 countries. Overall, 46 percent of respondents said they would prefer to see Kerry win the election, while support for Bush was around 20 percent.

In Germany, Strong Opposition

In Germany, 74 percent of respondents were for Kerry, with only 10 percent supporting Bush. Similar results came out from Norway, Canada and Italy. Countries that showed less than 10 percent support for Bush were Argentina, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Uruguay.

Bush only got more support than Kerry in Poland, Nigeria and the Philippines; in India and Thailand the numbers were equally divided. The poll covered countries where questions could be added to ongoing polls, and did not end up including any Arab countries or Israel.

"Only one in five want to see Bush reelected. Though he is not as well known, Kerry would win handily if the people of the world were to elect the US president," Steven Kull, director of PIPA, told news organizations.

George W. Bush: Rede im Bundestag in Berlin
George W. BushImage: AP

In addition, a German study, run by the Institute for German Opinion Polling, Allensbach (IfDA) showed Germans support a U.S. regime change in November. In the IfDA poll, just 4 percent of 1,023 Germans polled said they would opt to re-elect Bush, while 68 percent said they would vote for Kerry.

The Globescan/PIPA study also revealed the extent of damage the U.S. image has suffered in Europe, especially Germany. In nearly every country of the 35 polled, respondents said that their opinion of America had grown worse since Bush took office.

Damaged View of U.S.

Germans showed the greatest loss of respect, with 83 percent of respondents saying their opinion of America had changed for the worse in that time period. France, Mexico, China, the Netherlands, Italy and Brazil showed similar percentages.

As if more evidence of a widening transatlantic rift was needed, an opinion survey conducted for the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Compagnia di San Paolo think-tank in Italy, showed the United States and Europe are drifting further apart on security issues and the use of force in the aftermath of the war in Iraq.

'Undesirable' world leaders

In the Transatlantic Trends 2004 opinion poll of 11,000 Americans and Europeans, conducted in June, three quarters of Europeans said they disapprove of Bush's policies, while a majority said strong U.S. leadership in the world was undesirable.

Some 58 percent of Europeans said strong U.S. leadership in the world was undesirable, an increase of nine percentage points from a similar poll last year. Only in Britain and the Netherlands do a majority desire strong U.S. leadership.

By contrast, 79 percent of Americans said they support strong European Union leadership in world affairs and look to Europe as their preferred partner for solving global problems, even though 51 percent of them approve of Bush's foreign policy.

Common values

While Americans are almost evenly divided along ideological lines, 80 percent of Europeans surveyed do not believe the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year was worth the loss of life
and cost. Some 73 percent of Europeans believe the Iraq war increased the risk of terrorism, as do 49 percent of Americans.

And while Americans and Europeans agree on the main threats they face, a higher percentage of Americans support using force to prevent a terrorist attack, stop the spread of nuclear weapons,defend a NATO ally or remove a regime that abuses human rights.

But despite transatlantic strains, the survey found Europeans and Americans believe they share enough common values to cooperate on international problems.