Crisis in Spain, pessimism in France

Published on 7 May 2013 at 14:35

For three out of four Europeans, “the worst of the crisis has yet to come,” points out El País in its report on a poll published on May 7 by several European dailies. Conducted in April in Germany, Spain, France, Poland and the United Kingdom, the survey reveals some surprises, notes the daily

Paradoxically, the Spanish are the most optimistic: 40 per cent of respondents believe that the situation will improve within a year, as opposed to 60 per cent who do not. […] The persistent belief that the worst has yet to come is probably based on the conviction that the many sacrifices that have already been made will cause the situation to continue to deteriorate.

“This is the only encouraging data for Spain,” remarks El País, because it shows that the Spanish “are the most sceptical” about reforms and austerity: 76 per cent believe that such measures will have a negative influence on both the economy and society. They are closely followed by the Italians, 71 per cent of whom are also opposed to such policies —

In general, more than half of Europe’s citizens agree with this hypothesis, which calls into question the benefits of expected changes in the future. Only the Poles have a 76 per cent majority in favour [of austerity].

But the award for pessimism goes to France, points out Le Monde

On average, 92 per cent of Europeans feel negatively about the future of their country and the fate of their fellow citizens. In Metropolitan France, 97 per cent of households see dark clouds on the horizon. […] Worse still, 85 per cent of French citizens, as opposed to 75 per cent of Europeans, believe that things can only get worse in the future.

The daily notes that “this gloom has reinforced French sympathy for the fate of Latin countries.” However, this sentiment

… is not accompanied by a radical rejection of Europe: EU membership is still perceived as an advantage by 55 per cent of the French, while 57 per cent of Germans believe it to be a handicap.

Even if the “dreaded catastrophe, which has been fed by ongoing discussion, turns out to be a fantasy, […] it remains a testament to a fear that goes beyond the current crisis. […] The “number one” concern is not the possibility of losing one’s job, but of being unable to grow old with dignity (47 per cent) or of being denied access to proper health care (25 per cent).

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