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Berlin's tough line splits European public opinion

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Berlin's tough line splits European public opinion
Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras. File Photo: DPA
17:24 CEST+02:00
A study released on Tuesday shows that Germany's firm stance on Greek reforms has split European public opinion. But of all the main parties to the negotiations Berlin still fared best in the polling.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, shows that Brits are particularly scathing about Germany's negotiating stance, with 50 percent of respondents saying that Berlin handled the crisis badly and only 21 percent favouring its stance.

Only Germans themselves were more likely to say that their government handled negotiations badly (51 percent), although it is likely that a significant section of this number believed that Berlin was not tough enough during the marathon Brussels talks.

In the aftermath of the negotiations which led to an agreement on Greek political reforms on July 13th, Germany was heavily criticized in sections of the media for being too uncompromising.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble came in for particular criticism, with gruesome pictures appearing of him on social media hanging from a tree, or dressed as a Nazi SS officer.

But Scandinavians voiced much more positive opinions, reflecting the support of their governments for Berlin's approach of demanding significant reforms from Athens before more money was put on the table.

In Denmark 51 percent of people thought Merkel's government had done a good job in the talks with only 22 percent expressing a negative sentiment. In Sweden and Norway respondents were also in favour of Berlin's strategy, although by a narrower margin.

The polling firm also asked Brits what they thought of Chancellor Angela Merkel and found a significant fall in her popularity in comparison with 2014.

Whereas in February 2014 forty four percent of Brits said they held a positive opinion of the Chancellor and only 11 percent said the opposite, in the most recent survey 33 percent voiced a positive opinion of Merkel with 27 percent expressing disfavour.

But Berlin can take heart from the fact that all the other main parties to the negotiations were viewed to have done a worse job.

Germany scored an average approval rating of 36 percent across the seven countries polled, topping France (25 percent), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (28 percent) and particularly Greece, with its lowly approval rating of 13 percent.

Meanwhile an average of 37 percent expressing disfaour for Germany's negotiations was also lower than all the other negotiating parties. Greece again scored very badly (68 percent), with 'European leaders in general' also eliciting negative responses from an average 48 percent across the seven countries.

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