Germans perceive President Donald Trump as a greater threat to world peace than other top world leaders, according to a new survey from YouGov.
The poll, commissioned by German news agency DPA, found that 41 percent of Germans feel Trump is the most dangerous of five globally important leaders, a list which included Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
By contrast, the world leader rated most dangerous by the second-largest share of Germans was Kim, who was selected by 17 percent of respondents. Putin and Khamenei earned that designation from 8 percent of respondents, while Xi was only chosen by 7 percent. YouGov surveyed 2,024 people in Germany between December 16 and 18.
In 2018, Germans held a similar opinion about Trump, in relation to other world leaders, according to a comparable YouGov survey.
Germany, like many other European countries, has seen a surge of far-right populism in 2019 that has reshaped domestic political priorities. After the U.K. embarked on a lone quest to depart from the European Union, anti-Euroskeptics have looked to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron as the two pillars holding together the fraying coalition of 28 (soon to be 27) states.
Another survey, from the company Kantar, found that Germans’ confidence in their own leader is shaky. Germans were more likely to say they trusted Macron than Merkel.
Merkel announced in 2018 she would not seek re-election as chancellor, a result, in part, of mounting domestic challenges, such as the refugee and migrant crisis. Despite this and other, more regional issues, German residents identified the American president as the greatest hurdle to world peace in the YouGov poll.
Skepticism of Trump among Germans may also be the result of a broader mismatch between American attitudes toward Germans and vice versa. The Pew Research Center found in 2018 that about two-thirds of Americans thought relations with Germany were good, while just 42 percent of Germans thought so.
Moreover, Pew reported that “German attitudes toward the U.S. have turned sharply negative in the Trump era.” After Trump’s election in 2016, Germans’ favorable views toward the U.S. and confidence in the U.S. president plummeted.
One reason for the focus on Trump may be how vital Germany considers the U.S., according to public polling. Pew found that more than 40 percent of Germans say the United States is Germany’s first or second most important partner in global affairs. The only country to outrank America among Germans is France. The combination of strategic importance and declining confidence helps explain why Germans are so keenly aware of the American president, especially above other world leaders.
Disputes over NATO and import tariffs have also contributed to a more contentious relationship between the two countries in recent years. In November, Macron expressed an unexpectedly candid opinion about the viability of the trans-Atlantic military alliance after Trump’s criticisms, calling recent trends the “brain death” of the NATO.
The White House did not return a request for comment.