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12 Countries With The Most Positive Influence On World Affairs

Respondents of a survey saw Canada as the nation with the most positive influence on the world stage.

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A recent survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on the countries with a perceived positive influence on the world stage revealed that Canada had the most positive impact. The survey that polled 18,000 people across 25 nations also saw countries such as the United States, France, and Russia experience significant drops in perceived positive influence. Fifteen of the 28 countries surveyed had nationally representative samples. They include the US, Sweden, Spain, South Korea, Poland, Netherlands, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Belgium, Australia, and Argentina. The remaining countries which included, Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Russia Peru, Mexico, Malaysia, India, Colombia, Chile, China, and Brazil, did not produce samples that were nationally representative of their countries. The findings of the survey challenged the idea of the US as a “shining city upon a hill” closely associated with US president Ronald Reagan and firmly held by politicians since the country’s earliest days. The brightness of America as a beacon of freedom and democracy is fading at an alarming rate. Despite the significant drop, France remained in the top five. It was beaten by countries, including Canada and Germany, which are perceived as neutral countries that stand firm amid a disruptive tidal wave of nationalistic populism. 

Canada

Respondents of the survey saw Canada as the nation with the most positive influence on the world stage. The country scored 81%, putting it at the top of the list. Interestingly, the country retained the same number of points as the previous year while most other countries dropped by several points. Some have attributed the positive performance to the nation’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a charismatic leader who in the past has been seen cuddling a refugee baby. Others, however, believe that the nation’s stable foreign policy has helped the country attain the top position. Canada’s strongest ties have been with the US. However, recent events in the US political scene have led to a considerable divergence of opinion. The country also has established exceptionally close ties with France, Australia, and Israel. 

Australia

Australia had a 70% rating on its positive influence on world affairs. The nation is known to participate in humanitarian efforts across the world, including aid to more than 30 countries. The nation’s aid and development program aims to promote prosperity, reduce poverty, and promote stability. Australia’s kindness seems to be paying off. A recent study found that aid was a good investment with the donor country receiving increased revenue for every dollar spent. The positive influence attributed to the country is consequently having a positive effect on the economy. Recently, however, cuts to that aid have been met with criticism by many opposing aid cuts to developing nations. Such a move, many argue, would most likely have disastrous effects in recipient countries. Some Australians also believe that withholding aid funds goes contrary to the values that the nation upholds.

 Germany

Germany was ranked third on positive influence in the world at 67% despite having a 6% drop from the previous year’s rankings. The findings of the survey show that Germany is still considered an advocate for stability by the International community. With the election of Donald Trump, who has adopted a nationalist agenda in the United States, Germany is expected to assume a leading role in championing democratic values. The country is also spending considerably on foreign development aid, which is cultivating a positive image for the country. Germany is currently among the top spenders on foreign aid.

France

France’s influence on world affairs was positively held with high regard (59%) despite losing 12 percentage points from the previous year’s poll. The decline may have been attributed to anti-migrant nationalism in the country; the country did not, however, elect far-right Marine Le Pen. The country’s foreign assistance program is thought to have had a positive influence on the nation’s image vis a vis positive impact on world affairs. The country’s support and leadership in global issues such as the fight against climate change and conservation of the environment, economic development for social progress, gender equality, human rights, and promotion of peace and stability are viewed positively.

Britain

Britain was ranked fifth (57%) on positive global influence. The country had the fourth-largest drop in percentage points (10%) after the United States, Russia, and France. EU countries were less positive (48%) about Britain compared to the International community (57%). In EU countries such as Spain (29%), Belgium (35%), and Germany (35%), fewer than half of the population had a favorable view of Britain’s influence. The Brexit vote probably influenced the findings. Britons’ perception of their own country remained high; with 66% of citizens believing their country had a positive influence on world affairs. The British self- perception of world affairs was behind that of Canada (87%) and Australia (84%). 

India

India’s influence on world affairs was viewed as positive by 53% of the respondents. The country also displayed a perception gap in the citizen’s view of their country’s influence on the global stage, vis a vis how others viewed their country. Eighty-five percent of Indian citizens believed that their country had a positive impact on global affairs compared to 53% of the global public, which represents a 32% perception gap. India’s role in international issues is seen by many to be on the rise.

China

China is viewed by 49% of the global public as having a positive influence on world affairs. The nation was interestingly ranked above the United States. The country has over the years experienced a meteoric economic rise and is expected to overtake the United States as the global economic heavyweight in the future. China’s economic might has allowed the nation to exercise more influence on global issues. People, however, remain divided on whether they should follow America’s or China’s political and economic model. Over 53% of the global public expect that China will have a positive impact on world affairs for the next ten years. 

United States

The United States was ranked just behind China, and just above Russia on its positive influence on world affairs (40%). The United States is increasingly being overlooked when it comes to its positive influence in global affairs. According to the survey, the country also registered the biggest drop (24%) compared to the previous year. The nation also recorded a significant perception gap, with 67% of Americans viewing their nation’s influence as favorable compared to 40% of the global public, representing a 27 percentage point gap. According to recent research conducted by Pew, America’s global image has suffered significantly under the Trump presidency. A growing proportion of people also view US power as a “major threat” to their country. 

Russia

About 35% of the global public thinks that Russia has a positive influence on global affairs. The country is ranked just below the United States. The findings from the survey are supported by research conducted by the Pew Research Center, which found that the Russian international image is more negative than positive. According to the study, Europeans particularly have a negative assessment of Russia’s leadership under President Putin. The study also found that relatively few people viewed Russian power as a “major threat” despite its disruptive actions in Ukraine compared to climate change. The country is also not seen to respect personal freedoms. 

Israel

Israel’s influence on global affairs was viewed as positive by 32% of respondents surveyed. The nation is ranked just above its arch-rival Iran.

Iran

Iran’s influence on global affairs was viewed as positive by only 21% of the worldwide public. The country was ranked just behind Israel.

Japan

According to a survey conducted by the BBC, 57% of the respondents viewed Japan positively compared to 20% who saw it in a negative light. Japan is the only country that is viewed favorably by more than half of the global public based on the BBC survey that is not included in the Ipsos MORI survey. The results of the BBC survey are based on 28,619 interviews conducted across 27 countries by GlobeScan, an international polling company in collaboration with the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

Other Countries

Other countries that are viewed positively by the world but are not included by the Ipsos MORI survey include Brazil (49%), South Africa (42%), South Korea (36%), Pakistan (17%), and North Korea (16%). 

The US And China’s Influence In The Future

According to a new Global advisor survey that polled 18,500 people across 28 countries, 52% of the respondents believe that the US will have a positive influence in the next decade. The research shows that more than half of the global public is still hopeful that the United States will assume a more positive role going into the future. 53% of those polled also expect that China will influence global affairs positively going into the next ten years. According to the study, countries with the most people who view the US as a positive influence are India (85%), Brazil (79%), and Poland (71%). Top Countries that view China’s role in a positive light include Russia (82%), Peru (81%), Saudi Arabia (78%), and Brazil (76%).

12 Countries With The Most Positive Influence On World Affairs

RankCountryShare saying the countries have a strong/somewhat positive influence on world affairs.
1Canada81%
2Australia79%
3Germany67%
4France59%
5United Kingdom57%
6European Union57%
7India53%
8China49%
9United States40%
10Russia35%
11Israel32%
12Iran21%

About the Author

Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. 

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