Germany tops global leadership poll for third year in a row

Jill Petzinger
Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, wearing a protective face mask, gestures during an EU. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Even before her solemn, competent handling of the coronavirus crisis in Germany boosted chancellor Angela Merkel’s approval ratings at home to new highs, the country’s long-time leader topped a key global leadership ranking for the third year in a row.

“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,” Gallup editor-in-chief Mohamed Younis said.

Gallup’s Rating World Leaders 2020 Report said global approval for Germany came in at 44%. The US took second place, with just 33% of those polled expressing approval of the country’s leadership under president Donald Trump.

The US came in a tick ahead of China and Russia, whose leadership-approval ratings were 32% and 30% respectively.

“Halfway through 2020, both the United States’ and China’s responses to the coronavirus pandemic have been criticised from East to West,“ Younis said in the report. “The image of US leadership in particular could seriously suffer as the globe watches US states and the federal government struggle to get infection rates under control. “

The poll found Trump’s leadership to be held in particularly low regard in Australia, with 67% disapproving of him. In Europe as a whole, 61% disapproved of the US leadership, but zooming in on Germany, this percentage drops to 78%.

Germans, who were by-and-large fans of former president Barack Obama, have been found to be more sceptical of Trump. His constant verbal attacks on Germany and Merkel over issues such as her handling of the refugee crisis, NATO contributions, and the new gas pipeline between Russia and Germany have not endeared the US president to Germans.

In December 2019, a YouGov survey of 2,000 German people commissioned by the German Press Agency found that Trump is regarded as a greater threat to world peace than Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un.

The latest Gallup leadership poll, which surveys 1,000 people in each one of 135 countries, was carried out in 2019, before the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some world leaders have been praised for their coronavirus crisis management, Merkel among them, as well as New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar to name two more, while other leaders have blundered and blustered as the virus spread rapidly in their countries.

Merkel, currently in her final term and 15th year in power, has showed no signs of slowing down as she turns into the last lap.

With coronavirus and Brexit dominating the agenda during Germany’s six-month presidency of the European Council, Merkel can’t relax just yet.

READ MORE: Brexit deal and coronavirus recovery dominate Germany's EU presidency

The 66-year-old leader has repeatedly stressed about the importance of doing whatever it takes to hold Europe together during and after the coronavirus crisis, teaming up with French leader Emmanuel Macron to get EU leaders to agree on a €750bn (£685.3bn, $881.8bn) coronavirus recovery package that includes joint debt for the bloc.

After a marathon four-day meeting in Brussels, leaders of 27 EU countries finally reached consensus on the financial aid last week. Merkel’s famous negotiating skills were praised by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who hailed the deal as “a historic step we can be proud of” and thanked Merkel for steering the talks towards a solution.

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