LONDON: Germany is the most positively viewed nation in the world in this year’s annual Country Ratings Poll for the BBC World Service.
More than 26,000 people were surveyed internationally for the poll.
They were asked to rate 16 countries and the European Union on whether their influence in the world was “mainly positive” or “mainly negative”.
Germany came out top, with 59% rating it positively. Iran was once again the most negatively viewed.
Global views of Europe’s biggest country have improved significantly in 2013, according to the poll.
It was conducted for the BBC by GlobeScan and PIPA, who conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with randomly selected people in 25 countries.
Of those countries, 22 have been surveyed two years in a row, so become the tracking countries on which the average ratings are based.
These averages exclude the target country’s rating of itself. So for example, the opinions of Germans on Germany are excluded, meaning the country’s average rating is based on 21 tracking countries.
View of India deteriorates
A three-point increase in Germany’s average rating returned it to the top of the BBC list, displacing Japan, which saw its positive ratings drop from 58% to 51%, and fell from first to fourth place overall.
The BBC’s Stephen Evans in Berlin says the poll results may be a reward for diligent German diplomacy. Government ministers frequently tour countries with markets for German goods, or countries like Mongolia with raw materials for German products, he says.
There were high positive ratings for Germany in recession-hit Spain and France – though not in Greece – despite the well-publicised placards depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as a Nazi, paraded during anti-austerity protests in Europe.
The UK saw a bigger increase in positive ratings than any other country and climbed to third place in the table, in the wake of its hosting of the 2012 Olympics.
The poll also indicates that positive views of China and India have fallen sharply around the world over the last year. After improving for several years, views of China have sunk to their lowest level since polling began in 2005, putting it in ninth position.
India is ranked 12th, with negative views (35%) slightly outnumbering positive ones (34%) for the first time.
But Germany, whose economy has done better than almost every other in Europe in recent years, scored well across the world.
In Ghana, 84% of people polled said Germany’s influence was mainly positive, while 81% in neighbouring France and 76% in Australia felt the same. But in debt-laden Greece a majority of people polled gave Germany negative ratings.
Positive views of the EU dropped to their lowest level last year but have stabilised this year, rising one point to 49% on average.
But this figure masks significant changes. There has been a sharp drop in positive ratings by Germans, down 14 points to 59%. Canadians and Americans both give significantly lower ratings to the EU. In the UK, positive views of the EU continue to fall steadily and, for the first time this year, more Britons rate it negatively (47%) than positively (42%).
Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran came out worst in terms of how they are viewed globally. Only 15% of respondents said they saw Iran as having a mainly positive influence.