Countries Welcome Joe Biden, But Cautious About U.S. Leadership

As people in the United States prepares for Wednesday’s presidential inauguration and transfer of power, and in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, President-elect Joe Biden will have his work cut out for him as he enters office — especially when it comes to foreign policy and rebuilding international views of America.

According to a recent survey by Gallup, approval ratings of U.S. leadership were at or near record lows in 2020 in 20 of the 29 countries surveyed worldwide, with the median approval rate at 18% under President Donald Trump, even before the violent attack on the Capitol. Of those countries surveyed, Albania held the highest approval rate of the U.S., at 56%, while Iceland held the lowest, at just 5%.

In Australia, a report from the Lowy Institute titled, ” Is our love affair with America over?” explains that while Australians would prefer Biden to Trump, they also increasingly believe that the U.S. has changed for the worst, with a record low holding favorable views of the country. Another report by the European Council on Foreign Relations, which surveyed 11 European countries, found that 6 in 10 Europeans believe the U.S. political system is broken.

[MORE: Attack on Capitol Building Shakes Views of U.S. Exceptionalism]

Even among America’s closest allies, concern about the health of U.S. democracy existed well before the events of Jan. 6, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center. In Germany, 73% of those surveyed believed that the U.S. political system needs to undergo major changes or be reformed altogether, while 64% believed the same in France and 62% in the United Kingdom.

But the Pew survey, conducted in November and December, revealed a hopeful sentiment toward the U.S. among the three ally nations. Half of those surveyed in France and the U.K. have favorable views of the U.S., while 40% do in Germany, increases in all three countries from the summer months.

According to Pew, views of the U.S. are even more hopeful among German, British and French populations about Biden’s future role in world affairs. Confidence in Biden is highest in Germany, at 79%, with 72% in France and 65% in the U.K. These ratings fall just below the confidence in President Barack Obama near the end of his second term in office, and resemble the boost in international confidence with the Bush-Obama transition.

Along with confidence in President-elect Biden’s leadership, a majority of those surveyed also had high expectations for major policy issues during the Biden administration, such as climate change, foreign policy and handling the continuing novel coronavirus pandemic. Of those surveyed, only 1 in 10 or fewer believed that things could get worse in terms of these policy issues.

The majority of those surveyed in the three nations were also optimistic about the future of their country’s relationship with the U.S., with 84% of people in Germany and France, and 72% in the U.K. Even among those surveyed who did not trust Biden, most are hopeful about their nation’s relationship with the U.S. going forward.

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