WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. and Germany tied for the highest leadership approval ratings for the second straight year in 2012, with a median of 41% worldwide approving of each country's leadership. The approval ratings of all major powers declined in 2012, and for the sixth straight year, Russia had the lowest ratings of the countries measured.
Gallup surveyed residents in as many as 130 countries in 2012, asking whether they approved or disapproved of the leadership of China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Approval ratings of U.S. leadership declined in Asia, Africa, and Europe between 2011 and 2012, but stayed flat in Latin America. The U.S. saw double-digit declines in 13 countries and double-digit increases in 11 countries, including Syria, Mexico, and Serbia.
While experiencing double-digit increases in eight countries, Germany suffered double-digit declines in 14 others. Five of these double-digit declines occurred in Europe, including Belgium (-17), Spain (-16), Hungary (-11), Croatia (-11), and France (-10), which perhaps is a sign that Germany's popularity is waning amid the continued economic crisis in Europe.
Russia had the most dismal performance of the five countries studied. With double-digit declines in 19 countries and double-digit increases in three, Russia found itself at a new overall global leadership approval low of 23%. Twelve of these declines were countries in Africa and four were former Soviet Union countries.
While the leadership of Russia and China are still largely unknown by many around the world -- high percentages of adults surveyed do not know enough about them to have an opinion -- Germany and the U.S. have much greater visibility worldwide. This higher visibility means that the world is also watching the leadership of these countries more closely. However, the declining leadership approval ratings among all major powers may present challenges for their leaders as they try to solve international issues. These global approval ratings are an important piece of intelligence leaders should use as a barometer of how well the public perceives their policies.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.
Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in each country, aged 15 and older, conducted each year between 2007 and 2012. Measures in some countries are based aggregates of multiple surveys conducted in the same year. For results based on the total samples, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error ranges from ±1.7 percentage points to ±4.8 percentage points. 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.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.