PARIS (Reuters) - More than one out of three French voters would like to bid adieu to the euro and return to the franc, with a majority viewing the euro as a “handicap” for their country’s economy, according to a poll.
Disenchantment with the euro zone’s common currency has grown in France and other member countries as the European sovereign debt crisis and the high price of bailing out its more profligate members has continued to spook financial markets and raise doubts about the euro’s staying power.
Some 36 percent of voters in France said they would like to exit the euro zone and reinstate the franc, according to the Ipsos poll published on Monday in Le Monde newspaper. Sixty percent said France should stay within the common currency bloc.
“Since the crisis, this is something fairly common. This idea is gaining traction because now there are 36 percent telling us they want France to exit the euro,” said Ipsos’ Vincent Dusseaux.
“That remains a minority opinion, but within some subgroups it’s the majority view.”
The bulk of French voters saying they wanted a pull-out of the euro were from the far-right National Front, where reinstatement of the franc is a major party platform.
More blue-collar workers also supported a pull-out than did white-collar workers, the survey found.
Pulling out of the bloc’s currency is a commonly-heard refrain in struggling euro-zone countries such as Greece, where a return to, and devaluation of, the domestic currency would help counteract some of the pain of austerity measures imposed by the bloc’s members.
France’s finance ministry has warned that leaving the euro would be disastrous for the country, and Le Figaro newspaper quoted one ING Bank economist last December as estimating a 10 percent reduction in GDP over three years were France to exit the common currency.
A poll in the Netherlands last month found that a majority of Dutch believe the country should have stuck with the guilder, its old currency.
Last month in Germany, a viewer call-in to television network N-TV found that 86 percent of people wanted Greece to leave the euro zone.
Ipsos does not have comparable earlier surveys about the franc to compare with Monday’s poll, but Dusseaux cited a recent European Commission questionnaire over whether the euro was good or bad for Europe.
“What we notice (from the EU data) is that ... the criticism of the euro is more present in France than elsewhere,” said Dusseaux.
He added that the EU data showed that 21 percent of French said the euro was bad for Europe, compared with 19 percent of Germans, 12 percent of Greeks and 13 percent of Italians.
Monday’s Ipsos poll found that 45 percent of French voters believe the euro is handicap for their own country’s economy, versus 34 percent who see it as a benefit.
On Monday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced joint proposals for more centralized control of euro zone budgets.
The poll found that 49 percent of French voters believed the European Union’s budgetary and fiscal powers should be strengthened, versus 37 percent who believed member states should be given more latitude to regulate them themselves.
The survey polled 941 voting-age individuals by telephone on November 18 and 19.
Reporting By Alexandria Sage