More Germans want Greece in euro zone than out, poll shows

BERLIN Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:22am EDT

1 of 2. The flags of Germany, Greece and European Union flutter in the wind before a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Berlin, August 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

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BERLIN (Reuters) - For the first time in more than a year, more Germans think Greece should stay in the euro zone than want it to leave, a poll showed on Thursday, two days after Chancellor Angela Merkel made a symbolic visit to Athens.

The Politbarometer survey for broadcaster ZDF showed that 46 percent of those asked believed Greece should keep the euro compared with just 31 percent in August, when fears about the euro zone debt crisis were more acute.

It is the first time the Politbarometer survey has shown more Germans supporting Greek membership than not in just over a year. Still, a hefty 45 percent said they thought the country should quit the currency union due to its massive debt problems.

The results of the poll, conducted from October 8 to 10, follow Merkel's first visit to Greece since the debt crisis erupted nearly three years ago.

Until now, most Germans have supported Merkel's tough line with Greece and other debt-crippled euro zone states.

On Tuesday, she braved protests in Athens to stress her commitment to keeping Greece in the currency zone. Merkel offered Prime Minister Antonis Samaras no concrete relief before a report by international creditors on the country's progress on savings targets.

Several German newspapers were critical of her visit, with some commentators saying it could ease the pressure on Greece to implement radical savings measures.

The poll also showed that 57 percent of Germans believed Greece should not receive further credit if it fails to stick to its savings targets, acknowledging that could mean bankruptcy for their euro zone partner.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Noah Barkin)

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