Tuesday, April 09, 2013

EU politics: Germans support the euro?

Handels 008-pol.jpg

 is running news of a poll on the euro, telling us that eleven years after the introduction of the euro, the Germans have made their peace with the single currency. 

According to the poll, carried out by the Forsa Institute, 69 percent of Germans are in favour of keeping the new money. Only 27 percent want to return to the D-Mark. Yet in 2012, half of all Germans surveyed wanted to ditch the euro. 

The results mean, of course, that there is a significant minority opposed to the continuation of the single currency, and there could be some relationship between the 27 percent who are opposed, and the 24 percent who would support the AFD, which has as its main policy platform the ditching of the euro. 

However, such polls are notoriously unreliable, and it is an odd thing that results can often reflect the biases of the groups commissioning the polls. The context of the questioning is crucial, but also the method of sampling and the sample structure are amongst those things that can affect the result. 

Here also, the Forsa Institute is not without controversy, and any results from this organisation might well be suspect. 

But, even if everything is above board, there is a very different dynamic to polls when there is no immediate prospect of change. Thus, since dumping the euro is not on the mainstream political agenda in Germany, and there is no likelihood in the near future of the question being put, people might be expected to respond differently from a situation where their choices might take effect. 

What the current poll also fails to do is show how firm the sentiment is, or how it relates to political preferences. For instance, while FDP supporters seem to show a high level of support for the euro in this poll (83 percent), some 46 percent also professed to supporting the AFD – the highest level of any political party. 

With a highly volatile financial situation though, and a general election in the offing, it is not unreasonable to posit that sentiment could change very rapidly, and more so if the AFD gets organised and succeeds in the election. Thus, while the Forsa poll is of some interest, it doesn't really tell us very much. 

Euro support within Germany is not yet a key issue. What happens of the periphery, in Cyprus and Portugal, for instance, is more important for the moment.