Poll Finds European Support for US Policy Rose Once Obama Took Office

September 9, 2009 - 10:27 AM
European support for the U.S. president's handling of foreign policy has soared since President Barack Obama took over from former President George W. Bush, but Europeans continue to view major issues including Afghanistan, Iran and global warming differently than Americans view them, a poll released Wednesday found.
Washington (AP) - European support for the U.S. president's handling of foreign policy has soared since President Barack Obama took over from former President George W. Bush, but Europeans continue to view major issues including Afghanistan, Iran and global warming differently than Americans view them, a poll released Wednesday found.
 
Among those polled in the European Union and Turkey, about three-fourths, on average, said they supported Obama's handling of foreign policy compared with about a fifth who said the same for Bush last year, according to the survey. It was conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a nonpartisan policy institution that promotes trans-Atlantic cooperation, and the Compagnia di San Paolo, a research center in Turin, Italy.
 
The results were especially pronounced in Germany, where support shot up 80 percentage points to 92 percent, and in France, where it rose 77 percentage points to 88 percent.
 
The German Marshall Fund said in a press release that in eight years of conducting the survey, which includes dozens of polls, no other data changed as dramatically as the European support for U.S. policies between 2008 and 2009.
 
Obama's presidency has produced a less dramatic rise in support for U.S. polices in Central and Eastern Europe on average, where Bush enjoyed greater popularity than in Western Europe. Obama scored approval from almost nine of 10 people surveyed in Western Europe compared with about two-thirds in the four Central and Eastern countries surveyed: Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
 
Last year, the poll found support for Bush at less than a fifth of those surveyed in the Western European countries and about a third in the other four countries.
 
Among the survey's other findings:
 
-Almost two-thirds of Europeans polled were pessimistic about stabilizing Afghanistan, while more than half of Americans were optimistic. The poll was conducted before Afghanistan's widely criticized Aug. 20 elections.
 
-If diplomatic efforts do not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, almost half of American respondents favored keeping open a military option, while only a fifth of Europeans polled agreed.
 
-About two-thirds of those polled in the European Union said everything should be done to prevent climate change, even if those steps slowed economic growth. Four in 10 American respondents agreed.
 
The telephone survey conducted between June 9 and July 1 polled 1,000 people each in the United States and 12 European countries. Each country's survey had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.