America's not so hot for Obama right now. His approval ratings, according to Gallup, is a scant 43 percent. But Obama may be able to take some solace in the fact that Europe still loves him--at least when it comes to his handling of foreign affairs. A survey on European and American attitudes toward each other--released by Transatlantic Trends, a D.C.-based think tank--found that 75 percent of those surveyed in 12 European Union countries approved of Obama on international affairs, while the same survey found only 54 percent of U.S. citizens would say the same thing.
Transatlantic Trends only asked of Obama's approval on foreign affairs, since, naturally, the domestic issues of the U.S. aren't of much concern for those in Europe. Nevertheless, the results offer a glimpse into how Europeans' attitude toward Obama differ from Americans'. The think tank found Obama's approval rating on international politics to be highest in Western Europe countries like Portugal (82 percent), the Netherlands (81 percent), Germany (81 percent), and Italy (79 percent)--nations that strongly opposed the War in Iraq and for which Obama offers a stark contrast to that war's president, George W. Bush.. The lowest ratings in the EU came from Eastern and Central European republics like Slovakia (58 percent), Bulgaria (63 percent), and Poland (65 percent), former Warsaw Bloc nations leery of Obama's opening of relations with Russia. Still, each country's approval rating is higher than his slim majority of support on foreign affairs in the U.S. The results are summarized in the chart below.
So maybe Obama would fare better with a European electorate in 2012 instead of an American one. But Transatlantic Trends director Zsolt Nyiri said that one of the time-tested trends his think tank has seen is a correlation between the popularity of the U.S. president in Europe and European support for U.S. involvement in international issues. The highly unpopular George W. Bush consistently butted heads with European leaders in executing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama, on the other hand, has seen a lot more European cooperation in dealing with Libya.
Still, Obama's approval rating in Europe is waning a bit since his 2008 election, though that may have been inevitable. "The approval ratings decreased in countries where it was so high in the first place," Nyiri said. "No one expected it to stay there."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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