Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition was in apparent harmony with the opposition on Thursday (or at least most of it), as the Bundestag voted overwhelmingly to expand the European Financial Stability Facility, raising its scope to €440 billion ($599 billion). Only the socialist Left party, and a handful of government backbench rebels, voted against the measure.
Outside the machinery of government, however, opinion is much less unanimous. A survey commissioned by public broadcaster ZDF last week showed that three-quarters of Germans rejected the idea of throwing more money into saving the single European currency.
The Local ventured onto the streets of Berlin to ask people what they thought of their government’s decision.
Hannah Kowalski, 49, homemaker
“In my view, it’s crap when Germany gives others money. We are also poor. I am against this. Greece caused its own problems; it should take care of them. Where’s the money?”
Christoph Marx, 22, intern at public transport operator
“I think it’s actually good. This will strengthen Europe. We’re all in the same boat.”
Marianne Friedeißen, 57, unemployed
“I am against it. I’m from the GDR (former communist East Germany). I was not very excited about the so-called reunification. I personally think the whole idea of the European Union is not bad…but why should I, as a German citizen, help carry the debts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal?”
Matthias S., 24, student
“I don’t think that it will accomplish anything.”
Klaus B., 63, unemployed
“We never should have accepted Greece and Portugal (into the EU). You can’t compare these countries with Germany or France. It almost goes without saying. When this is over, they’ll just want more money.”
E. Wolf, 35, salesperson
“I have a very divided opinion. In general, I wasn’t really in favour of the euro. This is kind of a confirmation of the whole thing. Other countries have a completely different mentality and different way of handling money…But (the euro crisis) has affected even the middle class of Germans so that they can barely afford anything besides necessities.”
Interviews by Erin Huggins