Obama’s Leadership Losing Luster Abroad, Poll Shows

April 20, 2012 - 3:38 AM

Obama in Berlin

As a presidential candidate, then Senator Barack Obama received a rapturous welcome when visiting Berlin, Germany in July 2008. A new poll finds that median approval for U.S. leadership under President Obama across 116 countries dropped from 47 percent to 43 percent between 2010 and 2011 (AP Photo/File)

(CNSNews.com) – People in many parts of the world viewed U.S. leadership under President Obama less favorably in 2011 than they did a year earlier, with a new poll showing Egypt, Argentina, Serbia and Iran accounting for the lowest approval rates in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia, respectively.

Only 19 percent of respondents in Egypt, 25 percent in Argentina, eight percent in Serbia and nine percent in Iran said they approved of the “job performance of the leadership of the U.S.” in 2011, according to the U.S.-Global Leadership Project poll, released by Gallup and the Meridian International Center.

Median approval ratings for America’s leadership under Obama across 116 countries surveyed in 2010 and 2011 dropped from 47 percent to 43 percent over that one-year period.

Looking at the period since he became president in 2009, the approval ratings dropped in many of the countries surveyed on all continents – in some cases significantly. The trend is most evident in the Americas, with Africa and Europe close behind.

The biggest declines over the 2009-2011 period were recorded in Slovenia (a 32 point drop since 2009), Mexico (-27 points), Panama (-27 points), Chad (-24 points) and Croatia (-21 points).

Other countries where approval dropped from 2009-2011 include Japan (-20 points), Uruguay (-20 points), Greece (-19 points), Chile (-18 points), Argentina (-17 points), Germany (-17 points), Afghanistan (-16 points), Tanzania (-14 points), Brazil (-14 points), Venezuela (-14 points), Colombia (-14 points), Niger (-14 points), South Africa (-13 points), Spain (-12 points), Egypt (-12 points), Ireland (-12 points), Uganda (-12 points), France (-10 points), India (-10 points), Canada (-10 points) and Kenya (-10 points).

“Although the image of U.S. leadership is showing some cracks in the third year of President Barack Obama’s presidency, it remains more positive worldwide than during the last years of the Bush administration,” the report said. “U.S. leadership ratings in 2011 failed to regain the momentum they lost in 2010, and instead remained static or retreated even more in some places.”

Among the findings of interest for the 2010-2011 period:

In Africa, median approval dropped 10 points, from 84 percent in 2010 to 74 percent last year.

The lowest rates were in North Africa, with Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia all recording less than 40 percent approval. The “Arab spring” revolution did not affect Egypt’s year-on-year scores, while in Tunisia the score rose eight points between 2010 and 2011. Libya, which also underwent a dramatic transition last year, was not among the countries surveyed.

In sub-Saharan Africa, approvals were generally high, ranging from 92 percent in Ghana to 63 percent in Chad.

The biggest drops in approval in Africa between 2010 and 2011 were recorded in Liberia (-25 points), Central African Republic (-21 points), South Africa (-18 points) and Cameroon (-18 points). Accounting for the largest increases in approval over that period were Mauritania and Tunisia (+8 points each).

In the Americas, median approval of U.S. leadership under Obama dropped from 46 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2011.

Approval rates of above 50 percent were recorded in only three out of 22 countries surveyed – Haiti, El Salvador and Canada.

Of the rest, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica were at the higher end of the scale, while Argentina and Mexico were at the bottom. Biggest losses in approval were in Panama (-24 points) and Chile (-21 points) while only two countries (Dominican Republic and Honduras) accounted for gains – of just one point each.

In Europe, median approval dropped from 45 percent in 2010 to 42 percent in 2011

U.S. leadership under Obama rated the lowest approval in Serbia, Belarus and Russia, and the highest in Kosovo, Albania and Ireland.

The gulf between approval rates in Kosovo (90 percent) and Serbia (eight percent) “likely reflects U.S. support for Kosovo’s independence from Serbia,” the report noted.

The biggest positive shifts in Europe came from Belgium (+15 points) and Britain (+13 points), while the biggest declines were recorded in Sweden (-15 points), France (-13 points) and Spain (-12 points).

In Asia, median approval of American leadership under Obama dropped slightly, 41 percent in 2010 to 39 percent last year.

Singapore, Cambodia and the Philippines topped the list for high approval rates, while Iran, the Palestinian Authority areas and India were at the low end of the scale.

The biggest drops in approval in Asia between 2010 and 2011 were recorded in Bangladesh (-17 points), Australia (-13 points) and Afghanistan (-12 points). The largest increases in approval over that period were in Cambodia (+11 points) and Pakistan (+8 points).