Hurrah for Ze Germans!

William JordanUS Elections Editor
February 26, 2014, 3:38 PM GMT+0

British public opinion on Germany and Angela Merkel is strongly positive

Angela Merkel’s visit to London is set to include some important and even historic moments, including tea with the Queen and an address to both houses of Parliament – a first for a German chancellor. New YouGov research also shows that the visit, which will include discussions of possible EU reforms, comes at a time when views of Germany and its chancellor are strongly positive.

Fully 59% of British people have a positive opinion of Germany, including the majority of supporters from all three main parties, and even 50% of those supporting UKIP, a Eurosceptic party. Only 9% of people have negative views of Germany. And positive views of Angela Merkel outnumber negative ones by four to one (44% to 11%), though a large proportion (34%) feel neither positively nor negatively, suggesting many have yet to form an opinion of the German leader.

Just last September, Angela Merkel led her right-of-centre party to its best result since 1990 and has been described by some as the de facto leader of the European Union, due in part to her country’s robust economy and great investment in European politics.

British people do perceive Germany to have an outsize importance in the region: when asked which country it is most important for the United Kingdom to maintain a good relationship with, Germany was the outright leader, selected by nearly half (45%) of the British public from a list of the countries with the biggest economies in Europe (excluding the UK). Only two other countries were selected by more than 1% – France (11%) and Russia (9%).

What is past is (mostly) past

This high regard for Germany among people in Great Britain suggests many historical rivalries have faded. Indeed, when asked whether WWII impacts their views of Germany today, only 26% of British adults say it does – a level that is more or less constant across all age groups. And when asked the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Germany, contributions like “Nazis” and “WWII” make an appearence but are ultimately outnumbered by words describing the country’s modern economy and political strength; Angela Merkel is mentioned more than twice as often as Adolf Hitler.

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