Germany’s global image is the most positive of all countries evaluated in this survey. In 20 of the 22 tracking countries the most common view is that Germany’s influence in the world is “mainly positive,” while two countries view its influence as mainly negative. On average across all countries, a majority (56%) has a positive view of Germany’s influence in the world, while just 18 per cent have a negative view.
The most widespread positive views of Germany can be found among its European neighbours, including very large majorities in Italy (82%), Spain (77%), Portugal (76%), and France (74%). Significant numbers in Great Britain (62%) and Russia (61%) also have favourable views of Germany.
Impressive! Here are a few stabs at explaining this. First, a bounce from the 2006 World Cup. Second, Germany is probably still getting props for actively opposing the invasion of Iraq — a position shared by majority of the world’s population.
A few longer-term factors come to mind, in no particular order. First, Germany’s deeply integrated into the EU and no longer presents any military threat to anyone. Second, Germany gives a pretty significant amount of foreign aid (this explains a lot of Japan’s popularity as well). Third, the German diplomats I know personally tend to be smart, well-trained, and well-disciplined. They are actually diplomatic. They keep a low profile and talk about reconciliation, compromise, mutual interests, peaceful means, etc. Fourth, German leaders are routinely seen on the international stage taking responsibility and sincerely apologizing for their country’s past misdeeds. Fifth, Germans are renowned for being the least nationalistic large nation there is. Sixth, aside from the beer-swilling package tourists, Germans abroad generally leave a good impression. Some of the phrases I’ve heard: "diligent", "polite", "speak good English", "diplomatic", "don’t ask awkward questions", "seemed interested in our local culture", "ate the local food."