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U.S. Leadership Gets Approval Boost in Parts of Europe

U.S. Leadership Gets Approval Boost in Parts of Europe

by Cynthia English

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Approval of U.S. leadership increased significantly in seven of eight European countries between Gallup surveys conducted before and after President Barack Obama's administration took office earlier this year. In most of these countries, however, significant minorities do not have an opinion on the new administration.


Obama first visited Europe as president in early April. This trip occurred just prior to the Gallup interviewing period in each country except Romania, where his visit overlapped the interview period. During his trip, Obama emphasized a need for greater cooperation between Europe and the United States.

Gallup surveys conducted between March and May 2009 found majorities expressing approval of U.S. leadership in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Spain, and France and almost half approving in Italy and Romania. In surveys conducted during President George W. Bush's administration, by contrast, less than half of respondents in all seven of these countries said they approve of the leadership of the United States.

Although about a quarter (27%) of Cypriots say they approve of U.S. leadership, this is a 20 percentage point boost since polling was last conducted in 2006. Only in Romania did approval of the U.S. leadership remain unchanged, at 47%.


Approval of U.S. leadership rose by the largest margin among Irish citizens, from 23% in 2008 to 80% in 2009. Approval also increased by margins of at least 40 percentage points in Spain and the United Kingdom, where less than a quarter of respondents approved of U.S. leadership prior to 2009. With majorities in these countries now approving of the leadership of the U.S., this could present an opportunity for stronger relations between the U.S. and these key European allies.


At least a third of respondents in five of the eight countries surveyed did not express an opinion about the new U.S. leadership, with as many as 45% uncertain in Italy and 41% in Romania. Uncertainty about U.S. leadership remained steady in 2009 in Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, and Spain and increased significantly in Cyprus, France, Romania, and the United Kingdom.

Gallup continues polling in Europe this fall and will release further findings on U.S. leadership later in the year. To see all countries worldwide for which 2009 U.S. approval data are available, see the updated maps on the World Citizens' Views on U.S. Leadership, Pre- and Post-Obama page.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with at least 500 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in April-May 2009 in Slovenia and Cyprus. (In Cyprus, polling was conducted only in the southern, Greek-controlled region.) Results are based on telephone interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in April 2009 in Ireland and Spain, and April-May 2009 in Italy, the United Kingdom, and France. Results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in March-April 2009 in Romania. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranged from a low of ±3.7 percentage points in the United Kingdom to a high of ±5.7 percentage points in Slovenia. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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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