(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden is popular across much of the world and expected to provide greater U.S. leadership on issues such as fighting Covid-19, terrorism and climate change, a new multi-nation survey shows. But trust is low both in the U.S. as a nation and Biden’s ability to deliver.
“We wanted to know: If there is a change of administration and if the U.S. is ready to lead again, will anyone follow?” said Michael Broening, Executive Director of the New York office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the German think tank that commissioned the survey.The answer from the survey’s 12,400 respondents in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the U.S. itself: ‘Yes, but’.“Whatever was here in terms of U.S. trust has really dissipated a lot,” said Broening, adding that U.S. scores on international trust had fallen toward the levels of Russia and China. “That’s a very far stretch from the shining city on a hill.”
Asked by polling agency YouGov whether they approved of Biden, and separately if they thought he’d provide more global leadership than predecessor Donald Trump, respondents showed almost as much enthusiasm as similar polls in 2009 -- when Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush, another internationally unpopular U.S. President, in the White House.Eighty-nine percent of Kenyans, 73% of Germans and more than 60% of French, Indians, Indonesians, Mexicans and South Africans said they approved of Biden. Even in countries Trump courted heavily while in office –- such as India and Brazil -– Biden was seen as a welcome change. Only in Russia did more respondents disapprove of the change of guard in Washington.
Yet asked whether the new U.S. President should -- and would -- make good on specific goals such as reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal or the Paris Agreement on climate change, the survey showed skepticism as to whether he can succeed. Biden signed an order to rejoin the Paris Agreement as soon as he was inaugurated on Wednesday.The results chime with those of another recent survey, this time limited to European nations, published Jan. 19 by the European Council on Foreign Relations, a Brussels think tank. That poll found Biden’s popularity abroad undermined by pessimism, including beliefs that the U.S. political system is broken, that Washington can no longer be relied on to provide allies with security, and that China will be the stronger global power within a decade.“Past polling suggested that the changing of a President really presaged similar changes in attitudes to the U.S.,” said John Ray, director of polling at YouGov Blue, which carried out the poll. He cited the large boosts seen both to confidence in the new president and trust in the U.S. around Obama’s 2009 inauguration. “That’s no longer the case.”
The poll for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung was carried out online in December, after Biden’s election victory had become clear, according to Ray. YouGov surveyed roughly 1,000 respondents from each of the 12 countries, with results weighted for variables such as respondents’ ages, gender, education and religion.