Perhaps some Europeans, like some U.S. Americans, are so relieved that America’s 45th president hasn’t started a nuclear war or sent the global economy spiralling downward that they now give Donald Trump the benefit of doubt. A recent Pew Centre Survey of global attitudes toward the U.S. president shows that while opinions across five continents remain quite unfavourable to Trump, they have begun to climb up over the past two years. The Pew Centre analysts argue that Trump’s hard turn to the ideological right has attracted the respect of Europe’s far right ideologues.
In Europe, as ever, the Poles are the most U.S. friendly and favourable to Trump, too. A full 51% of those Poles canvassed have confidence in the president to “do the right thing regarding world affairs.” Surprisingly, Ukraine placed second with 44%, although the data does stem from spring and summer 2019, that is before the worst of the abuse of power scandal. The Central and Eastern Europeans were in general brighter about Trump than the western Europeans, with the notably exception of the UK, where nearly a third expressed confidence in Trump.
Turkey, Germany, and Sweden brough up the rear with 11%, 13% and 18% of confidence respectively.
As noted, these numbers are slightly higher than those from 2017 and 2018, but the Pew Centre also admits that this could stem from slightly changed polling methods.
Another noteworthy point is that although Trump’s favourability in Europe is low – much lower than Barack Obama’s was and even lower than that of George W. Bush – this hasn’t dramatically impacted Europeans’ opinion of the U.S. in general, which has trended downward but gradually. Even the biggest Trump sceptics – Turkey, Germany, and Sweden, for example – register 20%, 39%, and 45% positive opinions of the U.S. itself. Poland again led the American fans with a 79% favourability rating. But young people everywhere in the world had a better opinion of the U.S. than did their elders.
Worldwide, an odd smattering of nations seem to respect Trump himself as much as or even more than the Poles. In Nigeria, India, South Africa and the Philippines, there are high levels of goodwill toward Trump. But in Mexico, it’s only at 8%, even lower than in Trump-despising Turkey. Just about everywhere, respondents said that they were particularly unhappy with the Trump adminstration's trade policies and exit from the Paris climate accord.
It seems to be the far rights everywhere in the world who have most come around to Trump. Since 2018, confidence in the U.S. president shot up 22 points among Hungarian and Spanish hard right-wingers. Trump’s policy to allow fewer immigrants in the U.S. resonated with people who support the far-right National Rally in France, Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, and Sweden Democrats in Sweden. They are at least 40 points more likely than supporters of other parties to approve of the American president.
“However, even among people on the ideological right, support for Trump rarely rises above 50%,” note the Pew study authors.