By Calvin Palmer
Germany has emerged as the most positively viewed country in the world, according to the BBC World Service Country Rating Poll, with Great Britain placed second.
The views of nearly 29,000 people worldwide, regarding the positive and negative influence of 16 major nations, were gathered in a survey conducted by the international polling firm Globescan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.
Germany was seen as positive by 63 per cent of the people interviewed. Britain’s positive rating was 58 per cent.
Canada was the third most popular country, followed by Japan, France and Brazil. The United States came seventh ahead of China, South Africa and India.
The most positive views of Britain were in the United States, at 80 per cent, followed by Australia at 79 per cent and Canada at 69 per cent.
Iran was bottom of the poll with its negative rating at 59 per cent, followed by Pakistan at 56 percent and North Korea at 55 per cent.
Germany’s popularity comes as no surprise to me. I have always liked Germany. I have visited it more times than any other European country and even went as far as trying to learn its language.
The Germans I have met have always been polite and courteous. The German women I have encountered have always had a certain allure that I find fascinating and, in the main, they tend towards being extremely good looking.
I rate Berlin as my favourite city in the world. Its checkered history during the 20th century gives it a sense of importance that few cities can rival. The mixture of old and new architecture makes it a pleasing city on the eye and the presence of large parks such as the Tiergarten add to its appeal.
I like the way the cafes have tables on the wide pavements, where one can sit with a cup of coffee and a cigarette and watch the people pass by. Well, you could back in the 1990s. I am a great people watcher and just as long as there is a ready supply of coffee and cigarettes, I can quite happily sit for hours watching the free entertainment.
But where the Germans really score highly is their liberal attitude. The puritanism that pervades America and England is absent.
For instance, people can sunbathe and swim in the nude in Berlin’s parks if they so desire and those who don’t simply walk on by without feeling that their moral code has been impugned. It’s called live and let live, and an attitude that should assume greater prevalence in other so-called civilized societies.
Make no mistake, Germany is one of the most civilized countries in the world. Its heritage of art, music and culture, combined with its excellence in engineering and scientific inquiry, has imbued a degree of maturity and sophistication among its people that has no rivals.
Where else in the world do workers receive an extra month’s salary at Christmas to pay for the festivities, as well as extra pay at vacation time?
Germany may well have lost the Second World War, and thank goodness it was defeated for all our sakes, but it has won the peace thanks to hard work and an unshakeable belief in social democracy.
Perhaps it takes a country being reduced to rubble and the complete breakdown of government for something better to emerge for its people and put an end to the status quo that has held sway for centuries.
American politicians, particularly those on the right, are great ones for talking about democracy but they forget the social part and that is the most important element for ordinary people.
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin should take note.