Euro crisis weighs on German faith in gov't

AP News
Posted: Aug 12, 2011 10:27 AM
Euro crisis weighs on German faith in gov't

Nearly half of Germans think their government is doing a poor job of handling the eurozone debt crisis, and even more fault the European Union's response, according to a survey released Friday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition has taken a hard-nosed approach, repeatedly emphasizing the importance of austerity measures in debt-laden countries and often appearing reluctant to put more money into bailouts.

As the crisis deepened this month, the government has stood by the conclusions of a July 21 summit at which EU leaders agreed to boost the powers of the eurozone rescue fund, but not to increase its size.

The ZDF television survey released Friday found that 48 percent said Merkel's government is handling the crisis poorly, while 42 percent said they were satisfied.

The gap was far wider when respondents were asked about the EU's work in the crisis. Sixty-one percent of respondents gave a thumbs-down to the EU's crisis management and just 25 percent approved of it.

The survey of 1,280 people was conducted Tuesday through Thursday. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso drew criticism from across the political spectrum in Germany last week for publicly urging a "rapid reassessment of all elements related to" the eurozone's bailout fund before the summit agreements had even been implemented.

The leader of Germany's biggest opposition party, which has called for more decisive action to stem the crisis and advocated creating jointly backed eurobonds, defended Merkel's approach on Friday.

"I have criticized Angela Merkel for doing nothing for 18 months," Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the center-left Social Democrats, said on Deutschlandradio Kultur.

"But then she took the first correct steps, with (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy and others, and it is absolutely right of her to push for these things to be implemented and not constantly argued over," he added.

Merkel has been on vacation and out of public view since the end of July, though she has conferred with Sarkozy and others by phone. On Sunday, she issued a joint statement on the crisis with the French president.

Merkel returns to the office on Monday and is to meet with Sarkozy in Paris on Tuesday.