World loves Biden but is losing faith in the US, survey says

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – US President Joe Biden is popular across much of the world and expected to provide greater US 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 US as a nation and Mr Biden’s ability to deliver.

“We wanted to know: If there is a change of administration and if the US 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 US itself: ‘Yes, but’.

“Whatever was here in terms of US trust has really dissipated a lot,” said Mr Broening, adding that US scores on international trust had fallen towards 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 Mr 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 US President, in the White House.

Eighty-nine per cent of Kenyans, 73 per cent of Germans and more than 60 per cent of French, Indians, Indonesians, Mexicans and South Africans said they approved of Mr Biden. Even in countries Mr Trump courted heavily while in office – such as India and Brazil – Mr 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 US 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 scepticism as to whether he can succeed.

Mr Biden signed an order to rejoin the Paris Agreement as soon as he was inaugurated on Wednesday (Jan 20).

The results chime with those of another recent survey, this time limited to European nations, published on Jan 19 by the European Council on Foreign Relations, a Brussels think tank. That poll found Mr Biden’s popularity abroad undermined by pessimism, including beliefs that the US 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 US,” 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 US around Mr Obama’s 2009 inauguration. “That’s no longer the case.”

The poll for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung was carried out online in December, after Mr Biden’s election victory had become clear, according to Mr 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.

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