The Berlin Pulse > 2018 > Freitag/Dimock

Transatlantic Vox Pop

Since 2017, Körber Foundation has fielded joint questions on the transatlantic relationship in the US and Germany in cooperation with the Pew Research Center.

The idea is to catch the “voice of the people”: together, we poll the state of US-German relations on both sides of the Atlantic. A comparison of the results from this and the previous years’ representative surveys reveals: for Germans, the transatlantic relationship is on a clear downward trajectory. “Somewhat bad” or “very bad” is how a majority of Germans describes the current state of US-German relations. Over the past year, the US image has deteriorated significantly in Germany: the number of Germans who describe relations with the US as bad grew from 56 to 73 percent over the previous year.

While 70 percent of Americans believe the US should cooperate more with Germany, almost half of Germans, on the contrary, believe Germany should cooperate less with the US. In 2017, 56 percent were in favour of more cooperation between Germany and the US. What is more: three out of four Germans think Germany should develop its foreign policy more independently of the US in the future. Two thirds of Americans, on the other side, think that relations with Europe should stay as close as they have been in the past. The negative US image in Germany goes along with low ratings for US President Trump: only one-in-ten Germans stated confidence in US President Trump, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. At the midpoint of the Trump presidency, Germans feel increasingly alienated from their historically most important ally outside of Europe.

Dagmar Freitag, Deputy Chair, German-US Parliamentary Friendship Group, German Bundestag: “To me it is clear that the transatlantic partnership has not lost its importance. We face so many global challenges that a reliable partnership is indispensable. However, the toxic forces of nationalism and populism have been putting pressure on our community of values. More than ever we need to invest in sustainable transatlantic relations.”

Michael Dimock, President, Pew Research Center: “Believing in public opinion does not mean believing in populism. We are not saying our polls provide all the answers. Rather, they inform policymaking, and have improved in some ways while also facing challenges. They are important because they allow us to touch upon the underlying anxieties of populations and put the public voice forward. They allow us to understand where populations are unified or divided.”

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