Country Profile: Portugal

Transatlantic Relationship and Global Views

  • While international favorability of the United States remained relatively stable with 70% of respondents in the EU describing their opinion of the United States as very or somewhat favorable, while 26% described their opinion as somewhat or very unfavorable. Opinion of the U.S. remained stable in Portugal at 57% approval (56% in 2012).
  • In Europe, 69% of respondents approved of President Barack Obama’s international policies, while 21% disapproved. Portugal showed slightly above average approval ratings with 75% approving of Obama’s policies.
  • At the same time, support for EU leadership in world affairs remained strong with 71% of Europeans describing strong EU leadership as very or somewhat desirable. In Portugal, support for EU leadership in world affairs remained high at 72%.
  • Although respondents generally viewed the EU favorably with 66% of respondents in Europe viewing the EU very or somewhat favorably; Portugal’s approval has dropped 25 percentage points since 2009 to 63% approval this year.
  • Twenty-six percent of European respondents said that the EU should have more authority over member states’ economic and budgetary policy, while 68% said that each member state should retain this authority for itself. In Portugal, 29% of respondents preferred EU authority over national economic policy with 67% for state authority.
  • Meanwhile, many in Europe had mixed feelings with regard to their own governments’ handling of international policies; 50% approved, while 45% disapproved. Forty percent of Portuguese respondents approved of their own government’s approach, down fifteen percentage points from 2012 when a 55% majority previously approved.
  • When asked about their feelings on Russian leadership, 65% in the EU described it as undesirable while only 27% found it desirable. In Portugal, 54% said it was undesirable while 29% said Russian leadership was desirable.
  • When asked about the desirability of Chinese leadership in world affairs, 65% of Europeans found Chinese leadership desirable while only 26% found it desirable. Thirty-one percent in Portugal said desirable, while 61% found it undesirable.
  • Fifty-six percent of Portuguese respondents described China as more of an economic threat than an economic opportunity, yet 69% said rising powers like India, Brazil, and Indonesia pose more of an opportunity for new markets and investment more than a threat to jobs and prosperity.

Economic Crisis, Europe, and Trade

  • When asked if they had been personally affected by the economic crisis, Europeans (65%) and Americans (75%) overwhelmingly reported that they had, including 90% affected in Portugal — the highest level polled in Europe.
  • Sixty-eight percent of Americans, 82% of Europeans, and 69% of Turks said that most of the benefits of their economic system go to a few, while 25% of Americans, 15% of Europeans, and 23% of Turks said that their economic system works fairly for everybody. Within Europe, a number of countries approached unanimity. In Portugal for example, 92% — only behind Italy with 93% — said that their economic system rewards the few.
  • When asked their opinion of the EU’s handling of the economic crisis, 43% of European respondents approved, and 49% disapproved. In Portugal, 55% disapproved of EU leadership, while 41% approved of EU administration.
  • Europeans were more confident in the leadership of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with 47% saying that they approved of her handling of the economic crisis while 42% disapproved. However, these numbers varied drastically between countries, including Portugal’s strong disapproval rate of 65% and relatively low approval rate of 30%.
  • Sixty percent of European respondents said that use of the euro has been bad, compared to 33% who said it has been good including 65% of Portuguese respondents (up from 55% last year). However when those in Europe who responded that the euro had been bad were asked if they wanted to return to their previous currencies, majorities wanted to retain the euro. In Portugal for example, a 55% majority wanted to keep the euro (30% of the sample).

Transatlantic Security

  • Respondents were asked whether U.S. and EU security and diplomatic partnerships should become closer, remain about the same, or whether the respondents’ side should take a more independent approach. Although opinion is closely divided, pluralities of both Europeans (42%) and Americans (33%) stated that their own side should take a more independent approach. In Portugal, 54% were for a more independent approach, 20% and those who wanted their side to move closer to its transatlantic partners, and 22% wanted the relationship to remain the same.
  • Asked whether they approved of unmanned aircraft (drones) being used more extensively to find and kill suspected enemies in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, 53% of Europeans disapproved including 54% in Portugal.
  • Thirty-eight percent of Europeans wanted to decrease spending, as opposed to only 26% of Americans. In Portugal, 70% approved of spending reductions, the highest numbers polled in the survey.
  • Concerning recent developments in the MENA region, respondents were asked to choose between “stability is more important even if it means accepting non-democratic governments” and “democracy is more important even if it leads to a period of instability.” A majority in Europe (58%) and a plurality in the U.S. (47%) preferred democracy over stability. Approval for this option was divided in Portugal, with 47% for both sides respectively.
  • In Europe, nearly three-fourths of respondents (72%, up 13 percentage points) preferred to stay out and refrain from intervening in Syria. Portugal was particularly adamant that their countries not get involved with 80% against intervention with one of the largest increases from last year — opposition up 12 percentage points from 2012.
  • The U.S. and Europe disagree on the use of force and when asked in 2013 if they agreed that war was sometimes necessary to obtain justice, there was a 37-percentage point difference between Americans (68% of whom agreed, down six percentage points) and Europeans (31% of whom agreed). Disapproval was higher in Portugal with 73%.

Mobility, Migration, and Integration

  • When were asked if they were worried about legal immigration, 74% of Portuguese respondents said no, however when asked about illegal immigration, respondents were more concerned with 88% worried, the most in the EU.
  • Majorities in both the United States (61%) and Europe (52%) were mostly optimistic in stating that they felt that first-generation immigrants were integrating well into their society including 79% in Portugal. When respondents were asked about second-generation immigrants, answers were more positive. Sixty-eight percent of Americans thought they were integrating well, with 59% of Europeans concurring — including 82% in Portugal.
  • Respondents on both sides of the Atlantic were unhappy with their government’s management of immigration policy. Sixty-eight percent of Americans stated that the U.S. government was doing a poor job; with 58% of Europeans felt the same way about their governments. In Europe, concern in Portugal was closely divided with 41% stating the government was doing a good job with 44% disapproving of the domestic government.
  • When asked whether “immigrants take jobs away from native born” citizens, 50% of respondents in the United States agreed but a majority in Europe (62%) disagreed. Portugal was divided with 53% disagree and 45% agree.
  • Asked whether emigration was a problem for their country, two-thirds of U.S. respondents (69%) said it was not, whereas 57% of Europeans said it was. The highest agreement levels in Europe were found in Portugal (88%).