As the United States and Germany prepare to gain new leadership in 2021, their current relationship remains unbalanced in the minds of their citizens. countries were good.
Meanwhile, eight in ten Germans say the relationship is in bad shape. Since 2017, the percentage of Germans who say relations with the United States are bad has increased by 23 percentage points, while Americans’ views of the relationship have remained relatively constant. These results are in line with previous research, which found that the Germans rated the United States at its lowest level in 20 years, and said that the United States handled the outbreak poorly and had little faith in President Donald Trump.
The Americans continue to name the United Kingdom as the most important partner in foreign policy, while the Germans name France as their most important partner. Only one in ten Americans regard Germany as their most important foreign policy partner. An equal percentage of Germans named the United States their most important partner before the US presidential election. But in a poll conducted after Election Day, 23% of Germans said the United States was their most important partner, an increase of 13 percentage points.
with China and Iran. But few Germans view the United States as a partner in most of these pressing issues.
For example, only 12% of Germans say the United States is a partner in protecting the environment, compared to 76% of Americans who say the same about Germany. The clear majority in Germany does not see the United States as a partner in protecting free trade, democracy and human rights, nor in dealing with China.
Nevertheless, 54% of Germans say the United States is a partner in protecting European security, despite President Trump’s announcement to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany. 45% of Germans say the United States is a partner in doing business with Iran, and it is relatively close to the 56% of Americans who say the same.
There is some agreement on the two countries’ relationship with China. Majorities in every country say the relationship between the United States and Germany is more important than their relationship with China. And compared to a survey conducted in April 2020, more Americans and Germans are prioritizing bilateral ties over relations with China. Surveys in 2020 show a sharp rise in negative views of China in both the United States and Germany, as well as anywhere else around the world.
Looking to the future, most Americans see a Cold War-type conflict between the United States and China as a possibility, while the Germans are roughly evenly divided over this possibility. Americans are also divided into state of international cooperation after roughly equal numbers say countries will cooperate more (30%), nations will focus more on their national interests (35%) and international cooperation will not change (33%). A large number of Germans (46%) believe that countries will cooperate more after COVID-19.
These are among the findings of a survey by the Pew Research Center of 1,007 adults conducted in the United States between September 22-28, 2020, as well as one survey of Körber-Stiftung of 1,005 adults conducted in Germany between 10 and 17. September and another 1,058 adults from November 6-10, 2020. For additional results from German surveys, access the newly released Berlin Pulse publication.
Americans and Germans’ views of the relationship between the two countries still differ sharply. Americans remain optimistic in their views of their country’s relationship with Germany, with nearly three-quarters of them saying that relations are good. Nearly two in ten Americans say the relationship is very good (19%), the largest share in four years of the polls and a 6 percentage point increase from 2019.
Among Germans, 79% said the relationship with the United States is bad, a 15 percentage point increase in those who say so since 2019 and the highest negative sentiment in four years of surveys. The percentage of Germans who say relations with the United States are good is only 18%, the lowest point measured during the same time.
As has been the case in previous surveys, young Germans are likely to have a positive view of the relationship between the United States and Germany. However, only 29% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 in Germany say their relationship with the United States is good, compared to a lower percentage – 14% – among those 50 years or older.
When asked about involvement in major issues, the majority of Germans said the United States is not a partner in nearly every issue tested. Fewer than four in ten say the United States is a partner in doing business with China, promoting free trade, protecting democracy and human rights, and protecting the environment.