Most Germans want Deutsche mark back, poll shows

BERLIN (Reuters) - More than half of all Germans would like to bring back the Deutsche mark, although the number has remained stable even as the euro zone debt crisis escalated in the last year, a survey released on Wednesday showed.

A Forsa poll conducted for Stern magazine said that 54 percent of Germans favor a return of their former currency, an identical figure to a poll taken in May 2010, said Forsa.

Chancellor Angela Merkel insists she will defend the euro despite spiraling debt problems in countries such as Greece which have tipped the 17-member currency bloc into a crisis. Most Germans are against granting further aid to Greece.

The Deutsche mark is a symbol of West German stability and economic strength in the decades after World War Two and former Chancellor Helmut Kohl struggled to convince the public of the benefits of the euro in the 1990s before it was introduced.

However, defenders of the common currency argue Germany’s export sector, a main driver of growth in the last few years, has benefited from the euro as it has made products competitive on international markets.

In the Forsa poll, only 43 percent of those asked thought the German economy, Europe’s biggest, would benefit from a reintroduction of the mark compared to 51 percent who believed there would be no economic gain.

“This, and the fact that attitudes toward the mark have remained stable over years, show people realize the benefits of the euro despite the current crisis,” said a spokesman for Forsa.

At 67 percent, support for the mark is especially strong in former Communist eastern states, showed the poll.

“The desire in the East for stability and security is particularly great due to the gigantic changes people have experienced and that probably explains the trend,” said the spokesman.

The poll also showed that a greater number of people without academic qualifications wanted the mark back.

Forsa questioned 1,001 people between September 28 and 29.

Reporting By Madeline Chambers; Editing by Toby Chopra