German Majority Ready to Help Pay Down State’s Debts, Poll Shows

In case you didn’t think there’s political support for austerity.

Lemming economics firmly in place.

German Majority Ready to Help Pay Down State’s Debts, Poll Shows

By Alan Crawford

May 3 (Bloomberg) — A majority of German voters said they are prepared to help the state pay down its debt, according to a poll that provides backing for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stance during the financial crisis.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they were ready to accept personal sacrifices so that the federal government, the states and municipalities didn’t have to take out new debts, the TNS Emnid poll for the Berlin-based Initiative for a New Social Market Economy showed today. Voter magnanimity didn’t extend to accepting tax increases.

Ninety percent said it was important that the three levels of government are prevented from piling up more debt, with 55 percent saying it was “very important.” More than half the respondents said they would probably or almost certainly vote for a party that advocates savings, even if it meant having a personal impact. Twenty-three percent said they probably wouldn’t vote for a party with such a platform and 16 percent said definitely not.

The results underscore the domestic backing for Merkel’s insistence that deficits must be addressed to get at the core cause of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis even as international calls grow for her to shift away from austerity. The poll results “are a clear message to politicians,” said Hubertus Pellengahr, head of the INSM.

“Whoever seriously sets about tackling the problem of new debt knows they’ll have the majority of voters behind them,” Pellengahr said in an e-mailed release.

Even so, 72 percent of respondents said tax increases were unacceptable to resolve state debts, the poll found. Eighty percent of voters said any cuts needed to reduce debt should focus on administration and 65 percent said subsidies should be targeted. Thirty-one percent identified cultural spending, 27 percent social benefits, 25 percent infrastructure and 12 percent education and research.

TNS Emnid said it surveyed 1,002 voters in April. No margin of error was given.