NEWS

Europoll: No confidence

BRUSSELS – Most Greeks have lost faith in their government, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll, which shows the number of those who trust the government having fallen 11 percent since fall 2001. This is the second largest drop in confidence in the European Union after Lionel Jospin’s government in France before its recent defeat. According to the latest Eurobarometer poll of public opinion in Europe, 55 percent of Greeks say they have no confidence in their government. Only 39 percent (11 percent fewer than in the previous poll) declare they still have confidence in the government. All the other European governments face the same problem, though to a lesser extent. These statistics are a faithful reflection of political fluidity in Europe today, and of the significant political regrouping that has occurred in a series of countries, the most recent example of which was the overwhelming defeat of the Socialists in France. In Germany, for example, the government of Gerhard Schroeder, up for re-election in the fall, apparently only enjoys the confidence of 37 percent of the population, 10 percent less than last fall. Among the new wave of conservative governments, there is one that inspires little confidence: Only 33 percent of Italians in the sample polled expressed confidence in Silvio Berlusconi’s government. There has also been a dramatic drop in confidence in the European Union among Greeks and other Europeans, following Europe’s more general shift to the right and the considerable electoral gains of the Europhobic extreme right in a number of member states. The level of confidence Europeans have in the EU has fallen to 46 percent, a drop of seven percentage points. In Greece, confidence in the EU has fallen 12 percent to what is still a fairly high 58 percent, while in France it has fallen by 13 percent to 42 percent. The most interesting statistic for Greece is the shift in public opinion about common foreign and defense policy. There has been a fall of 11 percent in the number of Greeks who are in favor of the EU’s foreign policy, from the impressive 81 percent recorded in the previous poll to 70 percent. Enthusiasm for the common European security and defense policy has also been dampened considerably. Approval has fallen from 81 percent to 72 percent, slightly more than the European average. Presumably this can be attributed to the attempts that were made to exclude the Aegean and Cyprus from the European army’s field of action. European enlargement is less popular throughout Europe, though only by one or two percentage points. On this issue there has been a complete turnaround by the French, who have become fervent Eurosceptics, which fits in with the support subsequently expressed for the right-wing party of Jean-Marie Le Pen. France is the only EU country in which the majority are against the entry accession of new member states. In Greece, however, there has been a significant decrease in support for enlargement, and a correspondingly high increase in the number of «don’t know» replies. This may be explained by an earlier Eurobarometer poll which showed that Greeks are very concerned that EU enlargement might increase the influx of immigrants into Greece. Throughout Europe, perhaps the only thing that has fully gained the confidence of the public is the euro, which has high and growing levels of support in all but one country. Interestingly, the majority in Sweden and Denmark, which are not in the eurozone, support the new currency, while the British still resist it.