Germany tops Japan in popularity poll

AFP-JIJI, Staff Report

Germany is the most popular country in the world again in terms of “global influence,” with Japan dropping from first to fourth place, an annual poll for the BBC World Service revealed Thursday.

More than 26,000 people from around the world were asked to rate 16 countries on whether their global influence was “mainly positive” or “mainly negative.”

Some 59 percent of those polled rated Germany as having a positive influence, while at the other end of the spectrum, Iran came last with only 15 percent looking upon it favorably.

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 percent to 51 percent.

Germany, which has led the poll every year except for 2012 since its first inclusion in 2008, regained the top spot despite well-publicized protests over its insistence on austerity measures within the European Union.

Even in Spain, which is suffering from stringent austerity measures due to a German-led financial rescue package, 68 percent said they felt Germany had “a mainly positive influence in the world.”

Respondents in Greece, however, which has seen anti-German protests depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as a Nazi for her insistence on fiscal belt-tightening, gave it the worst rating, with 52 percent saying it was a bad influence.

Canada ranked second and Britain third, both with 55 percent positive ratings, while Pakistan and North Korea completed the bottom three.

The U.K. saw a bigger increase in positive ratings than any other country, after it hosted the 2012 Olympics.

Views of China have sunk to their lowest point since polling began in 2005, putting the Asian giant in ninth place.

Opinions on the U.S. were slightly more negative than last year, but America hung on to eighth place.