Germans oppose more bailouts, want smaller euro zone: poll

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 03, 2013 7:58 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - A majority of Germans say their next government after the September 22 election will have no mandate to provide more funds for the euro zone and that any further aid should be subject to a referendum, a poll showed on Tuesday.

More than half of Germans also want their country to remain in the common currency but would prefer a slimmed down euro zone with membership "restricted to a select group of more similar countries", the YouGov Deutschland survey showed.

"German voters' support for 'more Europe' seems to be mostly limited to strict control over other countries' spending," said Nina Schick, an analyst at the Open Europe think-tank which published the survey.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservatives are tipped to win a third term, has called in the past for "more Europe", including closer fiscal ties and a banking union, to defuse the euro zone crisis. But she has struck a more cautious tone on European integration as the election approaches.

Germans are unhappy about having to fund bailout packages for heavily indebted members of the euro zone, though the survey showed only 32 percent want to return to the deutsche mark.

Merkel has tried to prevent the euro zone crisis becoming a major campaign issue, though she conceded in a TV debate on Sunday that Greece - the weakest link in the 17-nation currency bloc - may require a third aid package.

The YouGov poll showed 52 percent of Germans do not want their next government to commit to further loans for crisis-hit countries such as Greece and Portugal and 57 percent say it should not have the mandate to forgive any euro zone debt.

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Almost two thirds said the next chancellor would have a mandate only to agree more aid for other euro zone nations if a referendum were held. A majority of those surveyed also opposed a pooling of euro zone debt, a step Merkel has vowed to oppose.

"The question is if the next German chancellor is prepared to press ahead with more euro zone integration anyway, risking the gap between voters and politicians widening further," said Open Europe's Schick.

(Reporting by Gareth Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)