September 6, 2018 / 10:45 AM / 3 months ago

Worries over Trump shoot to top of German fear ranking

BERLIN (Reuters) - Concern over the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump has shot to the top of an annual ranking of Germans’ biggest fears, easily outstripping worries about refugees and terrorism, a survey showed on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with U.S. President Donald Trump during a family photo at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

The “Fears of the Germans” survey from R+V Versicherung showed that 69 percent are worried that Trump is making the world a more dangerous place with his policies, which have included withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accord.

That compared to 63 percent who expressed fear that Germany risked being overwhelmed by refugees and 59 percent who listed terrorism as a top concern, down sharply from 71 percent last year.

“Trump’s brutal ‘America First’ stance, his hostility to international agreements and his aggressive trade and security policies, including toward allies, are frightening a majority of the population,” said Manfred Schmidt, a political scientist in Heidelberg who advises R+V on the survey.

“Trump’s attacks on Germany are having a growing impact on sentiment,” he added, referring to the president’s frequent verbal assaults on Germany’s trade surplus and relatively low levels of defense spending.

Among other concerns in the survey, 57 percent of Germans expressed fear about political extremism and 56 percent said they were worried about natural catastrophes.

The survey of roughly 2,400 Germans was conducted in June and July, before far-right protests in the eastern city of Chemnitz following the fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by two migrants, drew worldwide attention.

Terrorism had topped the fears ranking in the previous two years. In the five years prior to that, the top concern had been the cost of the euro crisis for German taxpayers.

The 2018 survey was released a day after an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration penned a column in the New York Times describing the president as amoral and unmoored, and detailing how members of his team are thwarting parts of his agenda in order to protect the United States.

Earlier this week, excerpts of a new book by veteran Watergate reporter Bob Woodward painted a picture of chaos in the White House and disdain among top aides over how the president is doing his job.

Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Gareth Jones

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