Spanish approval of USA has tripled in a decade

Emma Anderson
Emma Anderson - [email protected]
Spanish approval of USA has tripled in a decade
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy meets with President Barack Obama in Washington in 2014. Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP.

Nearly two-thirds of Spaniards said they had favourable opinions about the United States - the highest level in 15 years. But Spaniards also expressed the least amount of confidence in President Barack Obama among west European countries, according to a new poll.


A Pew Research Center poll published on Wednesday showed that 65 percent of Spaniards felt positively about the United States, which was the highest level of positivity towards the US over the past 15 years.

Barely a decade ago that approval rating sunk to a low of 24 per cent, almost two thirds less than now.

Some 27 percent of Spanish respondents still felt negatively towards the United States.

Spaniards mostly showed support for Obama, but not as much as in the other European countries polled. In Spain, 58 percent of respondents said they had confidence that Obama could "do the right thing" in world affairs while 40 percent said they had no confidence in him.

This was the highest level of of “no confidence” across the western European countries, but it also mirrored the feelings within the United States where 58 percent of Americans said they believed in their president in international matters while 42 percent did not.

Spaniards were a bit more on the fence about the question of whether the US respected personal freedoms, and not as pessimistic as its European counterparts in Germany, who mostly said the American government did not respect freedom. 

In fact, Spaniards’ opinions on the US and freedom more closely reflected those of Americans, with half of Spanish respondents saying the US did in fact respect its citizens’ personal freedoms while 46 percent said it did not.

In the US, a little more than half (51 percent) said their government respected freedom and 47 percent said it did not.

Support for the US among Spaniards has seen ups and downs over the past decade, with approval ratings falling to a low of just 23 percent in 2006 under President George W. Bush, and then starting to rise again in 2009 once President Barack Obama took office.

Source: Pew Research Center

Widely condemned "enhanced interrogation" methods - which many consider to be torture - used by the US on terror suspects following the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks did not sit well with most Spaniards. Two-thirds of Spaniards said such methods were not justified while 26 percent said they were justifiable.

Americans, on the other hand, mostly supported the interrogation methods with nearly 60 percent agreeing that the interrogation techniques were justified and 37 percent opposing them.

"More broadly, Americans are more supportive of using torture than others around the world," the report stated. "The U.S. is one of only 12 countries where half or more approve of their own government using torture against suspected terrorists."

Still, Spaniards showed fairly widespread support for the United States’ military actions against Isis with 67 percent saying they supported such actions compared to 24 percent against.

Younger Spaniards seemed to have the most positive view of the United States with 71 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 saying they felt good about the US, versus 61 percent of those aged 50 and older.

Just under two-thirds of Spaniards (60 percent) said that they believed China will - or has already - become a bigger superpower than the United states, with 34 percent saying China could never replace the US.

"When asked about the future, people around the world are generally convinced that China either will eventually replace or already has replaced the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower," the report states. "Overall, majorities or pluralities in 27 of 40 countries surveyed say this."



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