Romney election triumph would sink US reputation in Europe, poll finds

Europeans hold strongly negative views about GOP contender but Obama’s favourability poor in Pakistan and Middle East.

The reputation of the US in Europe risks sinking back to Bush-era levels of unpopularity if Mitt Romney becomes president, according to new international polling published on Tuesday.

Only around one in 20 of those surveyed in Britain, France and Germany by YouGov held a positive view of the Republican presidential nominee.

The poll of more than 12,000 people across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and China was prepared for the YouGov-Cambridge forum this week at which the Guardian is a media partner.

The results are a sign that affection for Barack Obama has diminished little since his 2008 speech in Berlin in which he promised to restore America’s reputation on the world stage, even though, four years on, Guantánamo remains open and the US is still engaged in military action in Afghanistan.

But while Europeans had a strongly negative reaction to Romney, the prospect of him winning the White House was greeted with less dismay in Pakistan, where about 13% of respondents said it would make them more favourable to the US, compared to just 9% who said it would make them less favourable.

This is possibly a reflection of the anger towards the Obama administration over drone attacks which have led to civilian deaths and are viewed as an infringement of Pakistani sovereignty.

There was less antipathy, too, in the Middle East and north Africa, where only 8% said they felt a Romney presidency would make them feel less favourable towards the US.

Again, the reason for this may be more to do with negative feelings about the current administration, in particular its failure to mount a serious attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, than warmth for Romney.

But the most striking finding was the level of antipathy towards the Republican in Europe. Although he is still largely an unknown quantity outside the US, he alienated many during an ill-fated overseas trip in the summer, particularly in Britain, where he appeared to publicly criticise Olympic planning and the level of enthusiasm for the London games.

Forty-seven percent of UK respondents said a Romney victory would make them feel less favourable towards the US, and only 3% would make them feel more favourable.

That sentiment was mirrored in Germany and France, where only 4% and 5% respectively said that he would make them feel more favourable towards the US. In Germany, 48% said it would make them feel less favourable and in France 38%.

It was not just in Britain that Romney’s overseas trip went down badly.

French daily Le Figaro, normally staunch conservative, ran a blog with the headline: ‘Is Mitt Romney a loser?’ In Poland, he was criticised by the Solidarity movement for being anti-unions.

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Categories: Americas, Europe

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