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Rough Recovery Ahead for U.S.-French Relations

Rough Recovery Ahead for U.S.-French Relations

French show disdain for U.S. leadership, more warmth toward other countries

by Cynthia English and Julie Ray

WASHINGTON D.C. -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy received a warm welcome this week from U.S. President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress, but Sarkozy's reciprocative attitude and public commitment to a strong friendship between the two countries may be a hard sell in France. In early 2007, Gallup asked the people of France whether they approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States and only 9% said they approve. At the time of the survey, which was conducted before Sarkozy's election, 27% of French respondents said they approve of their own country's leadership.

Relations between France and the United States became strained when France refused to support the U.S. decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Now, it seems there is a long way to go to mend Franco-American relations.

The French public's distaste for the United States' leadership becomes even clearer when compared with their views of the leadership of other European nations. For example, 26% of French respondents said they approve of the leadership of the United Kingdom, which is 17 percentage points higher than the 9% who approve of U.S. leadership. The French express even higher approval of Germany's leadership, with 52% approving.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,220 adults in each country, aged 15 and older, conducted between December 2006 and January 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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