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German Majority Favors Merkel Support for Juncker at EU

Former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker
Former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker has said he should get the job as the next head of the European Commission on the basis that he’s the candidate of the European People’s Party, the group of national political parties that won most seats in the European Parliament elections last month. Photographer:Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

A majority of Germans want Chancellor Angela Merkel to back Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker for the top European Commission post in the face of opposition from the U.K., according to a poll by Forsa.

Sixty percent of Germans say Merkel should stand by Juncker even as Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain’s membership in the European Union may be on the line if the former Luxembourg premier gets the job, the Forsa poll published today by Stern magazine showed.

Nineteen percent of Germans said Merkel’s government should back off support for the Luxembourger if it risks upending relations with the U.K., the poll showed.

The European fracas over who becomes chief of the EU’s executive arm has become a proxy battle over the future of European integration after last month’s continent-wide election showed a surge in anti-EU sentiment. Merkel warned yesterday against making “threats” over the personnel issue as Cameron said failing to get his way may push the U.K. closer to exit.

The two leaders remained at loggerheads after a two-day meeting this week with their Swedish and Dutch counterparts at the country residence of Swedish premier in Harpsund.

With a possible U.K. in-or-out referendum looming in 2017, the Forsa poll exposed an ambivalence in Germany, with 51 percent expressing regret over a British exit and 41 percent saying that they could come to terms with such a scenario.

The poll surveyed 1,002 German citizens on June 4-5 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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