Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Survey finds Poles cool to German unity

Roughly two out of three Poles are opposed to the reunification of Germany, but a majority of Russians and Hungarians feel positively about the idea, according to the results of a poll of political views in eight European countries published here. The survey, which was conducted in January, also indicated that while a solid majority of those questioned in five Western European countries favored a single German state, a significant number of Britons and French _ around one in four _ were opposed.

The poll was commissioned by 11 European newspapers and broadcasting stations and involved face-to-face questioning of 8,025 people, about 1,000 in each of the eight countries _ West Germany, Spain, France, Britain, Italy, Hungary, Poland and the Soviet Union.

One of the survey's central goals appears to have been to measure political attitudes toward social democracy in Europe, with the results showing strongly positive responses in all countries, including Poland, Hungary and even the Soviet Union.

Yet perhaps the most striking feature of the poll was both the depth of concern identified in Poland about the prospect of a united Germany on its western border and the extent to which Poles fear that change sweeping Eastern Europe could bring instability.

Asked about recent events in Eastern Europe, only 17 percent of those questioned in Poland thought they would bring lasting peace in Europe; 56 percent said they would not eliminate the risks of serious conflict, and 19 percent felt they could provoke another world war. Eight percent had no opinion.

On German reunification, those polled were given the options of being very favorable, fairly favorable, fairly opposed, very opposed and not answering.

Perhaps surprisingly, the country with the highest proportion of very favorable was not West Germany. Spain with 48 percent and Italy with 41 percent were ahead of West Germany's 31 percent, followed by Hungary with 23 percent, Britain with 21 percent, France and the Soviet Union with 17 percent and Poland with only 9 percent.

Including those fairly favorable, though, a positive reaction to German unity was highest in West Germany with 80 percent, followed by Italy with 78 percent, Spain with 73 percent, France and Hungary with 68 percent, Britain with 61 percent, the Soviet Union with 51 percent and Poland with 26 percent.

Adding the fairly opposed and very opposed, Spain with 6 percent and Italy with 13 percent showed less concern about German reunification than those polled in West Germany, where the figure was 17 percent.

These were followed by 22 percent in Hungary, 23 percent in France, 27 percent in Britain, 30 percent in the Soviet Union and 64 percent of Poles.