June 16, 2017 | By Craig Kafura

Farewell, Helmut Kohl

By Craig Kafura and Karen Whisler

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has passed away at the age of 87. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ long-running public opinion survey asked how Americans felt about Kohl during his term in 1982, 1986, and again in 1990. In a 0-100 ‘thermometer’ scale Americans were fairly neutral with regard to Kohl, ranking him with a median score in the 50’s. This put him in line with leaders such as Nelson Mandela and French President Francois Mitterrand, above European Commission president Jacques Delors and former US President Richard Nixon, and below figures like UK PM Margaret Thatcher, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and then-President George H. W. Bush. 

Yet Kohl’s West Germany—and after 1990, Germany—were consistently warmly regarded by Americans, both during and following his tenure as Chancellor. 

Though Kohl left politics in 2002, his political legacy lives on. Kohl's 1994 cabinet included as minister for the environment and nuclear safety one Dr. Angela Merkel, who now has had a run of political success nearly as long as Kohl’s, serving as Chancellor since 2005. If she wins reelection to her fourth term this fall, she would have the potential to surpass Kohl as the longest-tenured Chancellor in modern German history. 

About

Dina Smeltz joined The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in February 2012 as a senior fellow in public opinion and foreign policy, and directed the Council’s 2012 survey of American public opinion (see Foreign Policy in the New Millennium).  She has nearly 20 years of experience in designing and fielding international social, political and foreign policy surveys.

As the director of research in the Middle East and South Asia division (2001-2007) and analyst/director of the European division (1992-2004) in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US State Department’s Office of Research, Dina conducted over a hundred surveys in these regions and regularly briefed senior government officials on key research findings. Her experience includes mass public and elite surveys as well as qualitative research.  She has written numerous policy-relevant reports on Arab, Muslim and South Asian regional attitudes toward political, economic, social and foreign policy issues.  Her writing also includes policy briefs and reports on the post-1989 political transitions in Central and Eastern Europe, and European attitudes toward a wide range foreign policy issues including globalization, European integration, immigration, NATO, and European security.

With a special emphasis research in post-conflict situations (informally referred to as a “combat pollster”), Dina has worked with research teams in Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Israel-Palestinian Territories and in Iraq (2003-2005), where she was one of the few people on the ground who could accurately report average Iraqis impressions of the postwar situation.  In the past three years, Dina has consulted for several NGOs and research organizations on projects spanning women’s development in Afghanistan, civil society in Egypt and evaluating voter education efforts in Iraq.

Dina has an MA from the University of Michigan and a BS from Pennsylvania State University.

Feel free to email Dina with comments or questions at dsmeltz@thechicagocouncil.org

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