A monthly tracker of public attitudes towards key issues shows Germany has now overtaken the United Kingdom as the most concerned nation in Europe on the subject of immigration, a significant development for a nation which has long prided itself on their openness to migrants.
The research by Ipsos Public Affairs which took the views of thousands of people in 25 nations worldwide found a remarkable shift in opinion in Britain following the Brexit vote, with concern over mass migration falling to the lowest levels since early 2015. The more than ten point drop, which left immigrations still the highest concern but only now slightly ahead of poverty, means Germany is now the most concerned nation on that point in the world.
The research has found a sustained relationship between immigration and fear of immigration, with nations experiencing very low rates of arrivals generally not expressing concern. Examples of this include Mexico, where just one per cent of residents are from abroad and less than one per cent of residents are worried about it, and Japan, China, India, Brazil, Peru, and Korea which experience similar levels.
On the other side of the scale are nations like Germany, where a grand total of 15 per cent of residents are immigrants and 38 per cent express concern, and Sweden where 14 per cent are immigrants and 36 per cent are worried.
Also high among German concerns is worries about crime and extremism. Thirty-five per cent of Germans told interviewers they were worried about terror, 28 per cent about extremism, and 36 per cent about crime and violence.
After poverty and immigration, crime was the third most important concern for Germans in the month of October.
Terrorism is a high concern for many nations, with those recently hit by attacks among the highest rated. Some 47 per cent in France fear terrorism, as do 37 per cent in Belgium. Following a failed coup earlier this year and neighbouring territory controlled by the Islamic State, Turkey is the most concerned country surveyed when it comes to terrorism with 74 per cent listing it as their concern.
Also prominent among those questioned is a feeling of unease with their home nation. According to the research, a majority of people worldwide believe their country is “on the wrong track”. The world’s most pessimistic citizens are in France and Mexico, who hold joint first with a remarkable 89 per cent believing their country is not headed in the right direction.
Although British respondents also believe their country isn’t getting it right overall, they are actually the most optimistic of any people in the European Union interviewed. 40 per cent said the UK was doing the right thing.