Most Germans expect euro zone crisis to worsen: poll

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2013 8:04 AM
Most Germans expect euro zone crisis to worsen: poll

BERLIN (Reuters) - Nearly two thirds of Germans expect the euro zone crisis to worsen and almost half fear for their savings, according to an opinion poll released on Friday, amid rising concerns that Cyprus may be forced to quit the common currency.

The tiny Mediterranean island must strike a bailout deal with the euro zone before next Tuesday or face the collapse of its banking sector.

Germany has led euro zone calls for Cyprus to stomp up nearly six billion euros through a levy on depositors in Cypriot banks as part of the bailout deal, a plan Nicosia has rejected.

The ZDF Politbarometer poll showed 64 percent of Germans expect a deepening of the euro crisis and only 9 percent expect it to ease. Some 49 percent of those polled said they feared for their savings, up from 39 percent in a previous poll last June.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition has taken a tough stance on Cyprus, which it sees as a safe haven for money laundering, ahead of Germany's federal election in September

The Cyprus crisis has triggered concerns about a bank-run by citizens anxious to withdraw savings that could spread across the euro zone, prompting Merkel to repeat assurances about the safety of German deposits first made during the 2009 global financial crisis.

But despite such assurances the poll showed slightly more than a third of Germans did not believe their savings were secure while 63 percent did. A large majority of respondents did not expect a bank-run in other EU states because of Cyprus.

The survey, which canvassed the views of 1,296 people on March 19-21, also showed Merkel's party retaining a clear lead over other parties but suggested she may have to forge a "grand coalition" with the main opposition Social Democrats (SPD).

The poll gave the conservatives 40 percent, the center-left SPD 29 percent, the Greens 14 percent and the Left Party 7 percent.

But Merkel's current coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), were again on 4 percent, below the 5 percent threshold for entering parliament.

Such a result would probably force Merkel into renewing a coalition with the SPD like the one she led from 2005 to 2009.

The survey showed such a "grand coalition" would be the preferred option for a majority of Germans.

(Reporting by Gareth Jones; Editing by Stephen Brown)