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Merkel Set to Leave Office With Germany on Top of the World

Merkel Set to Leave Office With Germany on Top of the World

Story Highlights

  • A median of 62% in 29 countries and areas approve of Germany's leadership
  • Approval is at a new high or ties previous records in 18 countries and areas

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to leave office after nearly two decades in power, approval of Germany's leadership has never been higher in many countries.

Across the 29 countries and areas that Gallup has surveyed so far in 2020, a median 62% approves of Germany's leadership, up slightly from a median of 59% for this same group in 2019. Approval ratings are at, or top, previous record highs in 18 of the 29 countries.


Line graph. Trend in approval of the leadership of Germany across 29 countries and areas from 2006 to 2020.

Approval of Germany's leadership has generally trended up among the current 29 countries since the early years of Merkel's tenure. Although the increase between 2019 and 2020 was somewhat modest, there has been a 20-percentage-point increase in the median from 2006 to 2020.

Highest and Lowest Levels of German Leadership Approval

Of the 29 countries and areas for which data are available, approval ratings in a full 18 are at or above previous record highs for approval of German leadership. Majorities approve of Germany's leadership in 25 countries out of the 29.

Most of the 10 countries with the highest approval ratings of Germany's leadership so far in 2020 are Germany's neighbors in Europe. These countries largely have similar types of governments and strong social welfare systems similar to Germany; they are also members or candidates for membership in the European Union. The only country outside of Europe in the top 10 is Canada, which has had a lengthy alliance with Germany through NATO.

Approval of Germany's Leadership in 2020
Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of Germany?
Approve Disapprove
% %
Netherlands* 87 9
Finland* 84 9
Norway* 81 13
Denmark 80 10
Sweden* 78 9
Ireland* 76 15
Canada* 74 13
Switzerland* 74 19
Austria* 72 23
Albania 68 12
Spain* 68 28
United Kingdom* 67 17
Belgium 65 22
France** 65 28
Slovenia** 62 29
Australia* 61 18
Italy 61 36
Mauritius 61 21
Malta 58 18
Iceland** 57 7
Japan* 57 10
New Zealand* 57 16
Portugal* 56 18
United States of America** 56 27
Ecuador* 52 23
Taiwan, province of China 41 15
Cyprus 35 39
Russia 32 56
Iran 30 51
*New high ** Ties previous high
Gallup World Poll, 2020

High levels of approval of Germany's leadership are not universal. For instance, 30% of Iranians approve of German leadership. The German government is a party in the agreement to end Iran's development of nuclear weapons. While the German government has been less antagonistic than the U.S. government in these efforts, it has still been critical of Iranian violations of the existing agreement.

Germany's relationship with Russia, where 32% of the Russian public approves of German leadership, has been mixed. These relations have been strained by the country's criticism of Russian actions in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe. But, the two countries have continued to move forward on energy cooperation.

Bottom Line

Merkel's model of steady and predictable leadership, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises, has brought German leadership approval to new levels of prominence and popularity around the globe. As approval of U.S. leadership has plummeted, approval of German leadership under Merkel is trending upward and is now likely at or near record highs.

However, this high note for Germany could be muted with Merkel's departure. After 16 years in power, Merkel is set to step down as Germany's Chancellor in 2021. Who will come after Merkel to lead Germany is unclear, as her chosen successor Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has withdrawn from the race to head Merkel's Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU).

The CDU is set to choose a new leader in January, who would likely be in the running to succeed Merkel as chancellor following German parliamentary elections scheduled for September. But, with Kramp-Karrenbauer out of the race, there is no clear frontrunner. Additionally, there are questions concerning public support for the junior partner of the CDU's governing coalition, the Social Democratic Party raising the potential of political upheaval in the September election.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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