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New poll: German voters say next Chancellor lacks mandate to press ahead with further financial support for eurozone – a majority agree euro membership should be slimmed down

03 Sep 2013

Press release: Immediate

Open Europe and Open Europe Berlin have today published the first in a three-part series about Germans’ views on Europe, ahead of the country’s federal elections on 22 September.  

With markets and some observers still hoping that the eurozone will press ahead with a range of joint measures, perceived to be on hold until after the German elections, the poll – conducted by YouGov Deutschland – shows that there’s very limited public appetite for more eurozone integration, while a full 55% of Germans agree that Germany should keep the euro but membership should be restricted to a select group of more similar countries.  

Open Europe’s Policy Analyst Nina Schick said:

“German voters’ support for ‘more Europe’ seems to be mostly limited to strict control over other countries’ spending. On all other eurozone initiatives currently being discussed – including debt write-downs and a banking union – a majority of Germans remain opposed. The question is if the next German chancellor is prepared to press ahead with more eurozone integration anyway, risking the gap between voters and politicians widening further.”  

Key findings:

A majority of German voters agree that the euro should be slimmed down: When asked about Germany’s future membership of the euro, 55% of voters said they agreed “Germany should keep the euro but membership should be restricted to a select group of more similar countries”, while only 34% disagreed with this option. Reverting to the D-mark is only backed by one-third of voters (32%) versus 60% opposing it, with a similar breakdown on the option of breaking up the euro completely (30% tend to agree, 59% tend to disagree).
46% said the euro shouldn’t be saved “at any cost”, while 42% said it should.  42% said they agree the euro is now threatening the European project – only marginally lower than those who say it does not (45%).  

All forms of further financial support to the eurozone rejected by voters:
By a clear majority on every policy queried, German voters do not consider the next German government to have the mandate to press ahead with more direct or indirect financial support to the eurozone after the September 22 elections.  

Just over half (52%) don’t want the next government to commit to further loans for crisis-hit eurozone members (35% tend to agree);  57% said the next government should not have the mandate to forgive some debt owed by Southern eurozone countries (31% tend to agree); 56% of voters said the next government would not have the mandate to sign up to a joint backstop for banks (29% agreed), while 64% and seven in ten (70%) respectively, said the same of debt pooling via eurobonds and fiscal transfers.  

Almost two-thirds (65%) said the next Chancellor would only have the mandate to sign up to more money going to other eurozone countries if a referendum was held.   

‘Political union’ is only supported if it means stronger budget controls: Just over half of voters (52%) support turning the eurozone into a “political union, with stronger central budget controls” (34% don’t.) However, when “political union” is defined as including “fiscal transfers”, this majority is reversed with 55% of Germans being against and only 30% supportive.  

Support for ruling ECB bond-buying illegal: There was considerable support for the German Constitutional Court to rule the ECB’s bond-buying programme (OMT) illegal in its on-going court case. By a margin of almost two to one (46% to 25%), Germans said the Court should rule against the OMT if the stability of the euro could be ensured in other ways. Over a third (35%) said that the Court should rule against the OMT, even if that threatens the stability of the euro. In a strong indication of how seriously Germans take the rule of law, almost half (48%) of those asked said upholding the law is more important than saving the euro (30% disagreed).  

Strong opposition to ECB activism – even if beneficial to the euro as a whole:
Unsurprisingly, there’s considerable scepticism about the ECB easing its focus on maintaining price stability, even if it was deemed beneficial for the eurozone as a whole, with six in ten voters (62%) opposing such a move, compared to only one in four (25%) backing it.
Mismatch between mainstream politicians’ and voters’ views on Europe: On the question of which party best reflects voters’ opinions about European and eurozone policy, irrespective of who they intend to vote for, both the CDU/CSU (29%) and the SPD (18%) score well below their wider support. Interestingly, ‘Don’t know’(15%) and ‘none’ (11%) scored third and fourth, ahead of any other party, while only 5% say the anti-euro AfD best reflects their views.  

Methodology Note

YouGov Deutschland interviewed 1,010 adults online between 21 and 26 August 2013. Data were weighted to be representative of German adults aged 18+. Data were also politically voted to past vote recall.

To read Open Europe’s briefing on the poll findings, including the exact questions and answers:

For a full break-down of the answers including demographical data and voting intentions:

Notes for editors

1) For more information, please contact Open Europe on 0044 (0)207 197 2333; Nina Schick on 0044 (0)752 21 159 34 or Mats Persson on 0044 (0) 779 94 606 91. For Open Europe Berlin, contact Professor Dr Michael Wohlgemuth on 0049 (0)30 2758 1365

2) Open Europe is an independent think-tank calling for reform of the European Union. Its supporters include: Lord Leach of Fairford, Director, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd; Lord Wolfson, Chief Executive, Next Plc; Hugh Sloane, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Sloane Robinson; Sir Stuart Rose, former Chairman, Marks and Spencer Plc; Jeremy Hosking, Director, Marathon Asset Management; Sir Henry Keswick, Chairman, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd; Sir Martin Jacomb, former Chairman, Prudential Plc; Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover KG, Life President, J Sainsbury Plc; Michael Dobson, Chief Executive, Schroders Plc; David Mayhew, former Chairman, JP Morgan Cazenove; Tom Kremer, Chairman, Seven Towns Ltd; Michael Freeman, Co-founder, Argent property group.

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