Public opinion poll: Germans support NATO and the EU

In response to the acute threat, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) is working to make the Bundeswehr, as he called it, "fit for war"

by Sededin Dedovic
Public opinion poll: Germans support NATO and the EU
© Alexander Koerner / Getty Images

The recent escalation of tension between Russia and the West, especially the war in Ukraine, sent shockwaves across Europe. Following these statements, French President Macron even called for NATO troops to be sent to Ukraine.

Germany, a nation with a complex history of war and peace, is at a crossroads. What is obvious is that Germany is changing its security system and investments significantly for the first time since the Second World War.

Rearming the Nation: The Bundeswehr Awakens

Citizens believe that the threat is great.

Seven out of ten respondents, which is significantly more than five years ago, believe that peace and security in Europe are strongly or very strongly threatened. This results from the current public opinion survey "German Trend" (Deutschlandtrend) for the month of April.

The survey was conducted for the German public service ARD by the Public Opinion Research Institute "infratest-dimap" on April 2 and 3 among 1,304 representatively selected voters with the right to vote. Germany's decision to allocate a record 100 billion euros to modernize its armed forces, the Bundeswehr, marks a very significant shift in its post-war pacifist stance.

This unprecedented move reflects not only a heightened sense of vulnerability, but also a growing recognition that geopolitical realities have changed. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has highlighted the need for the Bundeswehr to be "war-ready", a stark contrast to the traditional defensive posture.

This rearmament signifies your willingness to take an active role in ensuring European security in the face of enormous tensions in the East. His public appears to share the government's concerns. A recent poll by Deutschlandtrend reveals that a staggering 70% of citizens believe that the peace and security of Europe is significantly threatened.

This fear translates into strong support for a strong national defense. The poll further highlights Minister Pistorius as the most popular politician, possibly due to his focus on strengthening the Bundeswehr.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius addresses troops of Panzergrenadierbataillon 122, a mechanized infantry unit of the Bund© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

NATO: A pillar of stability, but cracks are appearing

NATO's 75th anniversary sees the alliance play a key role in deterring potential aggression against its members.

Germany's unwavering commitment to NATO is evident, as 82% of citizens believe that it is crucial for European security. This sentiment transcends traditional political divisions, even within parties historically skeptical of NATO such as the AfD and the newly formed BSW.

Namely, while the Germans recognize the importance of maintaining most of the strong ties with the US, there is a growing openness towards an independent European defense structure. Donald Trump, who wants to become the president of the USA again, has repeatedly questioned the membership of the United States in NATO.

The majority of Germans believe that it is important to preserve the alliance with the US, with 69 percent believing that it is in the interest of Europe itself. At the same time, the polled voters are also open to independent European defense structures: for example, almost six out of ten German citizens currently support the formation of a common armed force of the European Union.

The upcoming elections for the European Parliament present Germany with a complex relationship with the EU. While the Deutschlandtrend survey suggests a generally positive outlook for the EU (60% crediting Germany's economic well-being), the euphoria of previous years seems to have moderated.

Support for German EU membership remains above 50%, but concerns are growing about its shortcomings.

Domestic challenges: migration, economy and social issues

In addition to external threats, Germany is grappling with a host of domestic challenges.

The influx of refugees remains a contentious issue, with a quarter of respondents identifying it as the most pressing problem. The war in Ukraine adds another layer of complexity to the migration debate. In addition, concerns about economic stability, social inequality and climate change remain prominent.

The poll sheds light on public opinion on integration efforts. A significant majority (72%) favors the rapid integration of refugees into the workforce, emphasizing a pragmatic approach. Similarly, a majority supports facilitating the use of skilled workers (56%), recognizing the need for a skilled workforce.

This openness to immigration contrasts with the concerns surrounding the refugee crisis. The social safety net is also under scrutiny. With concerns about the sustainability of the pension system, 79% of citizens are in favor of reducing benefits for unemployed people who refuse a job offer.

This sentiment reflects a desire to ensure system efficiency and prevent potential abuse. Considering the problems with the state pension system, citizens were also asked what they think about the time of retirement: 69 percent are against further increasing the time for retirement, 25 percent think that it should be done, reports DW.

Germany is at a crucial crossroads. The specter of war in Europe prompted a dramatic change in its defense posture, with a renewed focus on military strength. While concerns persist, there is a sense of determination to ensure national security.

However, domestic challenges such as migration and social issues raise questions about social cohesion. The success of Germany's future will depend on its ability to address these issues.

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