Besides being economically powerful, politically influential, and militarily strong, what else would a country want to be? Popular. This May, BBC released its annual Country Ratings Poll conducted by GlobeScan and PIPA, which rates the popularity of countries around the world. In this poll, 26,299 people from 25 countries around the world were asked to rate 16 countries and the European Union on whether their influence in the world was “mainly positive” or “mainly negative.”
From this poll, Germany has emerged as the most popular of the pack with a positive rating of 59%. This positive rating from the other countries of the poll most likely comes from Germany’s important role in leading the EU out of economic turmoil, as evidenced by Germany's very positive ratings from France and Spain (81% and 61% respectively). At the bottom of the list are Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran, which garnered the highest "mainly negative" ratings. From violence towards neighboring countries to nuclear proliferation, it is not surprising to see these that these countries are viewed poorly by citizens of other countries.
What makes this poll most interesting are the 25 countries selected to participate.
Of the 25 participating countries, 16 are members of the G-20, the exclusive club of the top 20 major economies in the world. Looking at the map, there is a lack of representation of Middle Eastern countries. In addition, the four lowest ranked countries did not participate in the poll. It seems like this poll does not show a global view of popularity, but shows how wealthy nations of the world and some others judge the influence of each other. Adding these less wealthy countries’ views to this poll would have produced some interesting results. For instance, the inclusion of more Middle Eastern countries would probably bump up Iran’s positive ranking significantly.
However, the poll is effective at highlighting the polarized popular opinions of countries. For example, though the United States and China have a strong economic partnership, they rate each other very low in terms of positive influence, with China giving the U.S. a 20% rating and the U.S. giving China a 23% rating. It's also interesting to look at how individual members of the EU rate the EU as a whole. France, Spain, Germany, and Poland give it high positive ratings. Greece, on the other hand, gave the EU only a 35% positive rating, probably due to its rocky relationship with the EU over the issue of Greece’s debt.
This poll, if anything, reinforces the idea that popularity is largely defined by the composition of the group. A different group of poll participants would have resulted in very different results. But for now, Germany can enjoy its place on top.