Three months after the start of the war, the massive support of Europeans for Ukraine is not weakening, or barely. This is the main lesson of a study by Ifop for the Jean-Jaurès Foundation conducted in May in six states (France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Ireland), and which is to be published on Thursday June 9. According to the survey, 79% of French people still have a good opinion of Ukraine, compared to 82% in March. In neighboring Poland, the figure is 87%. In Sweden, which wants to join NATO, it’s 82%. But nations like Ireland (86%) and Spain (80%), with a neutral tradition and a priori further away from the conflict, also show strong mobilization for Ukraine. Conversely, only 14% of French people have a good opinion of Russia. In Poland and Sweden, it is half as much (7%).
“There is still a strong consensus on support for Ukraine, whether it is economic sanctions, the supply of arms or the reception of refugees”, analyzes Jérôme Fourquet, director of the Opinion department at Ifop. “We can speak of a real European public opinion on this subject. For the moment, it has not turned around, while the duration of the conflict is an important parameter with the rise in inflation and the economic consequences of the embargoes. The Russians may have thought that the consumerist West would get tired and let go of the Ukrainians. But in our age of immediacy, where three months can seem like an eternity, there is no movement of weariness among Europeans .”
Support for economic sanctions in France remains stable, rising from 72% in March to 71% in May. 63% of French people approve of arms deliveries, compared to 86% in Poland. As far as the Ukrainian refugees are concerned, our compatriots are even more and more in favor of “these people being distributed among the various European countries and our country taking in some of them” (from 80% in March to 84% in May). Hospitality that rises to 93% in Spain and 92% in Sweden.
A third of Zemmour’s supporters have a “good opinion” of Putin
Only one country is marking time. The Germans are now only 57% to defend the supply of military equipment, against 66% in March. Across the Rhine, the popularity of President Zelensky is eroding (68% favorable opinions, against 80% in March). We should probably see in this the strong comeback of a pacifist tradition, like the influence of Ostpolitik and the idea of reaching out to Russia. In Germany, the public debate has been, in recent weeks, much livelier than elsewhere on this subject. At the end of April, the great philosopher Jürgen Habermas published an op-ed in the Süddeutche Zeitung, hailing the “prudence” of his government. Initiated by feminist Alice Schwarzer, an open letter signed by various personalities such as writers Martin Walser and Juli Zeh, invited Chancellor Olaf Scholz to no longer supply heavy weapons to Ukraine, in order to avoid a risk of “World War III”.
This reluctance is even more marked in the former East Germany, where only 42% of respondents approve of arms deliveries. A wavering public opinion which undoubtedly explains the procrastination of the German government in terms of arms shipments, enough to arouse the ire of Ukraine. “There are countries which we expect to deliver weapons to us. And there are countries which we are tired of waiting for them to deliver to us. Germany belongs to the second group” criticized, on May 30 , Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. It should be noted that France and Germany, pillars of the European Union, are also the least favorable to a Ukrainian candidacy (63%), while the latter enjoys massive support in Poland (89%).
The Jean-Jaurès Foundation survey also reveals generational differences. In France, only 52% of those under 35 are in favor of arms deliveries, compared to 75% among those aged 65 and over. “There is a pacifist tradition that is often stronger in the youth. But the memory of the Cold War is not the same either. The older ones say to themselves that we have returned to a period that we thought was over, with the specter of Russian tanks. Those under 35 have only known the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall” analyzes Jérôme Fourquet.
Vladimir Putin is more unpopular than ever on the Old Continent. Only 8% of French people have a “good opinion” of him (against 12% in March). It is the same figure in Germany. In Poland, we are at 4% and in Sweden at 3%. On the other hand, the rating of the Russian president explodes among supporters of Reconquest, the party of Eric Zemmour, with 32% of “good opinion”, against 10% among supporters of the National Rally. “In France and Germany, the radical right is much more Putinian, a phenomenon much less present in other countries” concludes Jérôme Fourquet.