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Merkel’s Crisis Stance Wins Northern Cheers, Southern Jeers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the debt crisis is winning cheers in northern Europe and jeers in the south, reflecting the continent’s economic divide with the fate of the euro hanging in the balance.

Merkel’s policies scored approval ratings of 74 percent in the Netherlands, 64 percent in France and 63 percent among her own voters, according to a trans-Atlantic opinion poll released today in Brussels. Disapproval was at 63 percent in Italy and Spain and 61 percent in Portugal.

“Some worrying trends emerge, from the deep differences between northern and southern European countries to the lack of trust in governments,” said Sergio Chiamparino, chairman of Compagnia di San Paolo, which co-sponsored the poll with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Northern attitudes toward aiding financially stricken neighbors were in focus today when Germany’s supreme court cleared the way for the setup of a permanent bailout fund. Separately, Dutch voters cast ballots in an election campaign marked by calls for more spending at home and less abroad.

While the poll showed flagging esteem for the euro, backers of a return to national currencies were in the minority. Some 27 percent in Spain, now debating whether to tap a full aid package, want to ditch the euro, followed by 26 percent in Germany and 21 percent in Italy.

Other highlights from the survey:

Unpopular European Union: “Unfavorable” views of the EU rose by 14 points to 49 percent in the U.K., by 8 points to 29 percent in Italy and by 10 points to 35 percent in Spain.

More Austerity

Spending cuts: Support for more spending cuts reached 70 percent in Portugal and 65 percent in Italy and France. In Britain, only 26 percent favored more austerity.

EU-Turkey impasse: An unchanged 53 percent of Turks have an “unfavorable” view of the EU. Negative EU attitudes toward Turkey rose 3 points to 43 percent. Turkey’s bid to join the EU has been frozen since mid-2010.

The annual survey of 15,500 people was conducted in seven euro-zone countries, five EU countries outside the euro, Turkey, Russia and the U.S. between June 2-27. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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