Anti-American sentiments are deeply rooted in France and mostly date from the 1968 Paris student protests that saw thousands of young, left-leaning French citizens rail against the US’ involvement in the Vietnam War and its military presence in Western Europe following the conclusion of the Second World War.
The French public’s open disdain for Washington’s heavy-handed approach to foreign policy once again took centre stage in following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which caused relations between the two NATO allies to hit an all-time low before being repaired under the presidency of Barack Obama and his two French counterparts, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.
In a recent poll of 1,000 people commissioned by the French Foundation for Political Innovation, the Sursaut think-tank, and the American-Jewish Committee, found that only 44% of French believe Washington to be a “trusted ally” under President Donald J. Trump, France 24 reports.
The survey discovered a 33% drop in the French public’s confidence towards the United States compared to 2014, the result of the polarising effect Trump’s presidency has had on the two countries bilateral relations.
The poll found that French voters who identify or cast ballots for the National Rally (Front National) – the Russian funded ultra-nationalist, Eurosceptic, anti-NATO, anti-Islam, and anti-immigration party whose leader, Marine Le Pen, has forged a close working relationship with Trump’s former chief strategist and political guru, Steve Bannon. Le Pen took over control of the party from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen – an icon of the European far-right and a Holocaust denier who was expelled from the National Rally for making repeated racist and anti-Semitic public remarks at a time when his daughter was attempting to rebrand the party.
Supporters of the National Rally and other fringe far-right parties have a markedly positive opinion of the United States under Trump, with 42% of National Rally voters having a positive view of Trump himself.
Overall, Trump has a 17% positive approval rating in France, while 54% of French public opinion has an extremely negative view of his presidency largely due to his combative and protectionist trade policies and his perceived detrimental effect in the fight against climate change.