Pew Survey Reveals Global Citizens’ Views on World Leaders

In the United States, the president’s approval rating is historically low, hovering at about 42% while his disapproval rating rarely falls below 50%. However, the opinion of the United States president held by people around the world is even lower, as a recent Pew survey shows that almost two-thirds of people surveyed in 33 countries express “no confidence” in President Trump, whereas just 29% of those surveyed express confidence in him. The results vary widely by country, but only a handful of countries, including Israel, India, the Philippines, and Kenya, have a majority of citizens who approve of the president. Unsurprisingly given the president’s rhetoric about building a wall on the southern border of the United States, a whopping 89% of Mexicans surveyed expressed no confidence in the president, and the president has similarly high disapproval ratings across much of Europe, in particular Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Interestingly, the percentage of global citizens Pew surveyed who approve of President Obama exactly matches the percentage of those surveyed who disapprove of President Trump at 64%.

Embed from Getty Images

That being said, a majority of respondents surveyed worldwide, 54%, expressed favorable views of the U.S., whereas 38% had an unfavorable view. This suggests that people around the world separate their view of the president from their view of the country as a whole, perhaps reflecting a view that the presidency of Donald Trump is a fluke rather than a genuine reflection of the general attitudes of Americans. Trump ranked dead last among five of the world’s most influential leaders; by contrast, German chancellor Angela Merkel took first place, at a confidence level of 46%. Interestingly, none of the world leaders drew a global confidence level greater than 50%, suggesting that people around the world are skeptical of the world’s leadership as a whole.

Citizens of the world not only disapproved of President Trump as a leader, but also of many of the specific policies he has implemented or proposed. 68% of people in the survey disapproved of the president’s practice of putting tariffs on goods imported from other countries, and 66% of people disapproved of America’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords and its position in the fight against climate change more broadly. People also generally disliked the idea of building a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, as well as the country’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. In fact, the only policy that people more people approved of than disapproved of was the opening of talks between the United States and North Korea, though even in this case less than half, 41%, of respondents approved of it whereas 36% disapproved.

Embed from Getty Images

The U.S. president was ranked more favorably in right-leaning countries than in left-leaning ones, which is unsurprising given that U.S. politics is generally further to the right than those of the rest of the world. In countries that have displayed authoritarian tendencies, like the Philippines and India, Trump had the highest approval rating. In general, men were more likely than women to have a favorable opinion of Trump. In Ukraine, a country which has become relevant to the United States in the wake of the scandal that led to Trump’s impeachment, 73% of people surveyed had a positive view of the United States, although just 46% of people had a positive view of Trump specifically. His popularity in Israel specifically likely has to do with his decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as well as his decision to terminate the Iran nuclear deal, which is unpopular in Israel.

Though the survey reveals broadly negative views of Trump around the world, the president’s approval rating has actually increased since 2017, when just 22% of respondents expressed confidence in Trump. Given the tumultuous nature of modern-day global politics, it’s difficult to predict how these numbers will change as time goes on.