Michael Probst, Associated Press
BERLIN — Nearly four in five Germans believe the euro will survive and more than half think Chancellor Angela Merkel is doing a good job of handling Europe's debt crisis, according to a poll released Friday.
The ZDF television poll said 78 percent of respondents believe the euro — used by 17 nations — will survive and 18 percent say it won't. That was much the same as a year ago — despite a worsening of the financial crisis that has now sucked in Italy, the eurozone's third-largest economy.
Europe has already bailed out Greece, Portugal and Ireland but the Italian economy is considered for the continent to bail out.
The poll of 1,278 people, conducted by the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen institute Tuesday through Thursday, showed 56 percent think Merkel is doing a good job of crisis management and 33 percent say she isn't. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 points.
That is a significant shift from a similar poll in October, which found Germans equally divided over Merkel, with 45 percent approving of her management and 46 percent disapproving.
Since then, European leaders have agreed on a second bailout package for Greece and measures to increase the firepower of the bloc's rescue fund, the €440 billion ($600 billion) European Financial Stability Facility.
And, at the height of tensions over a later-abandoned Greek plan for a referendum on the new bailout, Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy raised the prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone in the case of a "no" vote — a possibility they hadn't raised before.
Merkel has taken a hard-nosed approach, insisting on tough austerity measures in exchange for aid. She is somewhat constrained at home by the need, stipulated by Germany's highest court in September, to clear every measure taken by the European stability fund with parliament.
German lawmakers set up a special nine-member parliamentary committee to expedite decision-making in particularly urgent cases. But the Federal Constitutional Court ruled last month that it can't start work pending a ruling on a complaint by two lawmakers, who argued that delegating decisions to the panel violates their rights.
Some, however, fear that having to consult the 41-member budget committee, or even the full 620-member lower house, every time could slow down decision-making in a fast-moving financial crisis.
The court scheduled a hearing on the case Nov. 29.
With the crisis deepening despite politicians' efforts to staunch it, there has been increasing talk of the European Central Bank stepping in far more aggressively to buy bonds and push down Italy's borrowing rates.
But that is deeply unpalatable to Germany, the eurozone's biggest economy, where politicians argue that the ECB must stick to its mandated task of fighting inflation.
"Nothing has changed in the government's fundamental convictions and its expectations of the ECB," Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Friday. "(It) has the role of ensuring the stability of our common currency and keeping inflationary tendenices in check."
Germany's own finances are in solid shape, with tax income swelled recently by strong economic growth.
On Friday, parliament's budget committee trimmed net new borrowing in the country's 2012 budget to €26.1 billion ($35.5 billion) from the government's planned €27.2 billion ($37 billion). The projected figure for this year was €48.4 billion ($65.9 billion.)
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