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EU voters upset but say no inclination to follow Brexit – poll

A cyclist wears a pro-Brexit badge on her Union flag themed helmet

European Union voters in France, Germany, Italy and Greece think their countries are heading in the wrong direction but there is not yet any Europe-wide inclination to follow Britain towards exiting the bloc, according to a poll published on Thursday.

Britain’s shock June 23 Brexit vote, which was praised at the time by then US presidential candidate Donald Trump as a “miracle”, has raised questions about the future of post-World War Two attempts at European integration.

After Brexit and Trump’s victory in the United States, investors are watching for any sign that popular discontent is on the rise ahead of 2017 elections in France and Germany, and a likely vote in Italy.

A WIN/Gallup International online survey of 14,969 people showed voters were unhappy across the European Union but that support for the EU remained above 60 percent in most of the biggest member states.

The poll showed 89 per cent of voters in Greece thought their country was heading in the wrong direction. In France the figure was 82 per cent, Italy 79 per cent and Germany 62 per cent.

While EU voters are clearly discontented, there was only a small rise in the number of people who would vote for an exit: 36 per cent from 33 per cent across the 15 European countries including Britain that were surveyed.

The percentage of people in Germany, France and Belgium who would vote to leave fell from a year ago. Finland and Greece saw an increase in support for leaving, up to 40 per cent from 29 per cent and to 46 per cent from 38 per cent respectfully.

“2016 saw the EU foundations severely shaken,” said Johnny Heald, managing director of ORB International, who did the UK polling.

“What stands out is the overwhelming view from EU citizens that their countries are heading in the wrong direction – most noticeable in France and Greece – which makes fertile ground for right-wing populist parties.”

Across Europe, 60 per cent said they would like to have fewer migrants and refugees. In Greece, 86 per cent wanted fewer while in Italy the figure was 75 per cent and in Germany 64 per cent.

The survey was carried out November 25 to December 7, before the December 19 truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Berlin.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which was created three years ago in opposition to eurozone bailouts, laid the blame on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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