How Europe & Italy Views President Trump

Trump-Europe-NH

By Kenji Hosokawa
Italy, September 3, 2017

Since the election of Trump, global views on the President’s and the U.S.’s ratings have been in a sharp decline. According to a Pew research poll conducted in June spanning 37 countries “a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs.” The deterioration in attitudes towards President Trump is even more remarkable when compared to Barack Obama’s Presidency which saw “a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world” and held “a positive view of the U.S.”. The opinions of Italian citizens further exemplify changing global attitudes towards the President, from 68% having confidence in President Obama’s abilities to conduct international affairs, to 23% under President Trump.

The downturn in global attitudes towards the U.S. is due to both Donald Trump’s character as well as his policies. The Pew poll asked responders globally to associate the President with a list of positive and negative characters. The poll estimates around 75% see him as arrogant, 65% as intolerant, and 62% as dangerous with only 25% as caring about ordinary people. These beliefs are echoed by the Italian people as many view President Trump as “extremely egotistical” stating that “you only need to look at his buildings for proof of this.” Many also expressed disbelief at his ability to be continually outraged and believed that Trump didn’t “have the temperament to be President.”

Policywise Donald Trump fares as poorly across the globe, with some of his major policy initiatives being widely panned. ¾ of the 39 surveyed countries in the Pew poll opposed the presidents withdraw from ITA’s (international trade agreements) as well as from the Paris climate accord. Additionally, his plan to “build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, is opposed by a median of 76% across the 37 countries surveyed.” Many Italians questioned me personally on Trump’s proposal to build a border wall, asking if migration across the States was such a serious problem. Italians have strong feelings towards migrants due to the increasing number of African and Middle Eastern migrants crossing the Mediterranean over the past 10 years. With such a large influx of people crossing a volatile sea, Italians questioned the effectiveness of a wall against such desperate people.

As the world increasingly discredits Trump’s leadership, global citizens have also begun to voice an unfavorable view of the U.S.  According to the Pew Research Center, “in more than half of the 37 nations surveyed, positive views of the U.S. experienced double-digit drops in 2017.” Included in this group of nations is Italy, whose citizens have voiced an 11% decline in favorability. Other nations have shown further discontent with unfavorability climbing greater than 20%, such as in Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Ghana, and Mexico. The last time an American president faced similar unfavorability in the European continent was President George W. Bush during the last year of his presidency in 2008. Donald Trump has proven that the position of the President holds tremendous prestige abroad and can improve our image such as under President Barack Obama or damage it as both President Trump and President Bush’s administrations have done.

Kenji Hosokawa
-European Correspondent for TransAtlantic Magazine, Citizen of U.S., Japan, Italy
-Political Science and Italian Student at UW-Madison

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