Poll: Europeans view Euroskeptic parties as good thing

The Pew Research Center has released a poll showing Europeans generally have positive views toward the rise of Euroskeptic parties in their respective nations, in large part because residents have major concerns regarding the European economy and its immigration policies.

With the exceptions of France and Poland, these "nontraditional parties" (e.g., UKIP in the U.K., Podemos in Spain, etc.) are dominantly thought to be a "good thing" within European nations.  Support for Euroskeptic parties is highest in Spain (70 percent) and the U.K. (66 percent), and also strong in Italy (58 percent) and Germany (50 percent).  Even in Poland, the public is split between whether the Euroskeptic parties are good or bad.  Only in France is there a majority view towards these parties being negative.

Men take a far more favorable view than women do toward Euroskeptic parties in all countries surveyed.  There are no clear multi-national trends by age group or political orientation.

Unfavorable views of Muslims are predominant in Italy (61 percent unfavorable, 31 percent favorable) and Poland (56 versus 30), and also significant in Spain (42 percent unfavorable).  Germany, France, and the U.K. also have substantial unfavorable ratings for Muslims – in the 19- to 24-percent range.

The Roma generate the highest unfavorability sentiments among minority groups, having majority unfavorability ratings in Italy (86 percent), France (60 percent), and Poland (48 percent), as well as substantial concerns present in the remaining nations (34 to 37 percent).

When asked if European integration has strengthened their nation's economy, less than half said it had.  In Italy, only 11 percent answered in the affirmative.  Low levels viewing the European project as a net economic benefit were also recorded in France (31 percent), Spain (43 percent), and the U.K. (49 percent).  Poland (53 percent) and Germany (59 percent) had small majority positive views demonstrating only weak overall support for economic integration.

Only in Germany is there a clear majority that feel the current economic situation is good or somewhat good.  Italy (12 percent), France (14 percent), and Spain (18 percent) take a very dim economic view, with just marginally greater optimism in Poland.

All nations surveyed had a clear majority view that children will be worse off financially than their parents.  In France, this pessimism reached 85 percent.  More than two thirds of U.K. respondents were equally troubled.

Despite all these concerns, each country still had a majority of respondents who held a favorable view of the EU, and in nations surveyed that are using the euro (Germany, France, Spain, and Italy), dominant majorities want to keep the euro rather than return to their national currency.  Consequently, the rise of the Euroskeptic parties may be limited in time and extent, with real EU reforms indefinitely off the table, given the public's unwillingness to send a strong message to Brussels via threats of withdrawal.