What a pleasant surprise! Germany is more widely seen as "having a mainly positive influence" in the world than any other country, according to the BBC World Service's Country Ratings Poll. I doubt, however, whether poll participants really meant Germany's foreign policy.
A three-point increase in Germany's average rating returned it to the top of the BBC list, displacing Japan, which saw its positive ratings drop from 58% to 51%, and fell from first to fourth place overall. (...)
In Spain, the recipient of a bailout with tight German strings attached, 68% said they felt Germany had "a mainly positive influence in the world".
In Britain, it was even higher at 78%. In France 81% - the poll indicates that four in every five French people look over the border with approval!
Only Greece maintains its Germanophobia, with 52% giving a negative rating.
Will the poll matter? It might well. It may confirm German ministers in their belief that tough love is true friendship.
Re the last sentence: I doubt that people consider tough love in the euro-crisis as a true friendship.
I don't know where the popularity is coming from. Because our export economy and soccer teams are strong - at the moment? The Toby Ziegler "theory" of 'They'll like us when we win!'? Because of our "culture of restraint" in foreign policy, avoiding bad press that comes along with military campaigns?
Of course, this BBC article received hundreds of comments. To be precise: 695 comments as of now. And registered users can rate the comments. The lowest-rated comments tend to be Anti-German, while the highest-rated comments are full of compliments of Germany, for instance these:
# Modern Germany is the result of a nation working together and having national pride. It's leaders put the national interest first - not those of their chums. German business takes a similar stance. Our leaders and managers are only interested in lining their pockets.
# Germany is an unselfish, politically sophisticated pragmatic country.It employs a benevolent capitalist system which is managed and controlled for the benefit of all its people.It is modern, clean and very well maintained.Different from Britain in every way.I lived there for 25 years and visit annually. Higher wages, higher taxes, better public provision.The very opposite of greed driven Britain.
# No surprise really. Friendly, helpful and easygoing people, nice weather & amazing scenery in the south, a strong and diverse economy, great roads, cheap public transport and almost no litter! The only mystery is why they like David Hasselhoff so much - he is the Wurst!
# Of course Germany is admired. It allows itself to have a strong national identity and is willing to act in the best interest of its own people. It has the sense not to get involved in other people`s arguments and its public sector supports its home industries.
# I'm fed up with people being anti-German due to the war, and even more pathetically anti-German due to the World Cup.
# Germany has a 78% approval rating amongst the British according to the survey, yet it's mass market tabloid newspapers, particularly one red top does nothing but try and rake up "the war" and negative stuff about Germany at every opportunity. That probably shows just how out of touch the "popular" press is with the population.
# I'm British but I've been to Germany on numerous times. They strike me as being everything the British would like to be
# Just don't mention the sixth episode of Fawlty Towers..... In reality such stereotyping is now rather out of date; Germany has changed beyond recognition and I'm not surprised it is so highly rated.
It seems that these British commenters like Germany's Soziale Marktwirtschaft and strong industry and public services, especially in comparison with UK. So perhaps Germany did not win the poll due to Berlin having a positive influence in the world, although that was the question in the poll, but rather due to the current perception of Germany being economically successful at the moment. Perhaps the poll participants also did not consider Germany's foreign policy when voting, but just thought about the "postive influence" of BMW, beer, Bundesliga, Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, etc.
I am sure that in a few years, we will be seen again as the "sick man of Europe" just like in the 90s and early 2000s, but this time due to demographic change being the "old sick men of Europe".
ENDNOTE: Or maybe our "foreign policy culture of restraint" is appreciated, as reflected in the comment: Germany "has the sense not to get involved in other people's arguments".