Spying Survey Trust in US at Lowest Level Since Bush

Ongoing revelations about the NSA spying scandal have pushed German trust in the US to its lowest level since the presidency of George W. Bush. A new survey also finds that Germans want Chancellor Merkel to stand up to Washington.

German views of the US have dimmed as a result of the NSA spying scandal.

German views of the US have dimmed as a result of the NSA spying scandal.

It wasn't all that long ago that US President Barack Obama could take credit for having repaired a trans-Atlantic relationship that had taken a hit under his predecessor, George W. Bush. Early in his first term, some 78 percent of Germans saw the US as "a country that could be trusted."

This week, though, following revelations of large-scale US spying in Europe and vast Internet surveillance, that trust has taken a hit. A survey released late on Thursday found that only 49 percent of Germans now view the United States as trustworthy, the lowest level since Bush was in the White House. It also marks a plunge of 16 points relative to a survey taken in December 2011.

The survey is based on interviews with 1,500 people conducted from Monday to Wednesday of this week, just as news was breaking that the US had bugged European Union diplomatic representations in Washington and New York and spent years closely watching digital communications to, from and within Germany. SPIEGEL broke the story in this week's issue, published on Monday.

Europe Reacts to NSA Spying

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The reaction has been one of outrage, with top German politicians demanding that the spying cease immediately. And the survey, undertaken by pollsters infratest-dimap for the public television station ARD, would seem to indicate that many in the country share that indignation. Fully 78 percent agreed with the statement that German Chancellor Angela Merkel "must protest more unequivocally to the US."

Trust in UK Falls

Still, the survey also showed that respondents don't believe that Germany can do much about US snooping. Sixty-seven percent believe that the German state doesn't have the power to protect the country from spying.

The reputation of the United Kingdom -- which was also revealed to have been engaged in tight Internet surveillance -- has also suffered according to the survey. Only 63 percent of Germans now see the country as a trustworthy partner, down 17 points. The date of comparison for Britain, however, is late 2009. The survey does not make it clear whether the drop in standing is a result of the surveillance revelations or stems from other causes, such as what is widely perceived to be London's anti-EU attitudes.

For all of the angst the spying scandal has triggered in the top echelons of Germany's government, it seems not yet to have translated to Germans' voting preferences. The survey found that, while satisfaction with Merkel has dropped by 3 percent relative to a survey taken last month, the gap in support between her conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats is greater than it has been since 2005. Some 42 percent of respondents said they would vote for Merkel's Christian Democrats (or its Bavarian sister party Christian Social Union) were the election this Sunday against just 25 percent for the SPD.

Still, when it comes to likely coalition partners, the SPD has the better cards. The Green Party continues to have strong support, with the ARD survey finding that 14 percent of Germans are planning to vote for the party. By contrast, support for Merkel's junior coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) continues to be weak, with 4 percent support. Parties must receive at least 5 percent support for representation in German parliament, the Bundestag.

cgh -- with wire reports

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atheist_crusader 07/05/2013
1. optional
"Sixty-seven percent believe that the German state doesn't have the power to protect the country from spying." We have the power. What we don't have is balls.
Yael.Schlichting 07/05/2013
2. Did Germans ever worry, if others trust in them?
It is too comfortable to let the US soldiers do the dirty jobs. Despite the fact, that Obama screwed the Middle East, Germans never openly supported the US, when they were required to do so. Just remember, how Chancellor Schröder let George W. Bush down when he started the war in Iraq. The pretended casus belli was problematic, but the war was due. Too many things went wrong between the two countries and Germany should maneuver less and show a clear line so that its allies know who they are dealing with.
nix- 07/05/2013
3. Merkel
Go Merkel go!
Hans Wurst 07/05/2013
Chancellor Schröder was not convinced by the US arguments regarding the war in Iraq, which in the end turned out to be the right behaviour. Being an ally doesn´t mean to follow your partners like a woolheaded idiot.
benjamin-doering 07/05/2013
5. Afraid to disagree my friend
One of the few good things Mr Schröder accomplished in his 2 legislation periods was to stand up to Cowbush who intentionally fooled not only the American people but the entire world about potential weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I don't think those had even been found. It is the Americans over and over again who think they rule the world while living a system of censorship in their own country. To me, a German who spent years in the US, the US of A are on the same level as Russia and China. Important information is filtered before published. The people are betrayed by government. There simply is now way to support a country like that, neither during a war that is fought on behalf of the oil company of an important minister nor during a massive spying scandal. Now, it is rather the time to face them. Stand up to them and make them understand that from a European point of view, the glorious US of A have developed into a 3rd world country, economically as well as politically.
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