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Nearly half of Europeans in poll want EU referendum, like UK

Kate BradyMay 9, 2016

Almost 50 percent of voters in eight big EU countries are in favor of voting on their membership, a survey has found. The results come just weeks before the UK heads to the polls for their EU referendum.

European Parliament in Strasbourg, France
Image: Getty Images/AFP

According to the Ipsos-MORI online poll, published on Monday, 45 percent of more than 6,000 European surveyed in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and Sweden said they wanted their own vote. A third of participants also said they would opt to leave the EU if given the chance, the poll found.

The Ipsos-MORI poll found that the size of the potential "Out" vote was particularly high in France and Italy, with between 41 and 48 percent of the sample saying they would vote to leave the EU. In Poland and Spain, however, support to leave the 28-member bloc was as low as 22 and 26, respectively.

"The Italians in particular hope to have their own opportunity to go to the polls on their EU membership, which lends a sense that even if the [UK]) vote does ... stick with the status quo in June, it will not be the end of the EU's woes," said Bobby Duffy, head of social research at Ipsos-MORI.

Rise of the euroskeptics

Right-wing, euroskeptic parties have been on the rise across Europe in recent years, with some already holding office.

EU lowers growth forecast

In France, the hard-right National Front (FN), which has become one of the country's strongest political powers, promotes greater independence for France from the EU, as well as protection of national industries and agriculture. The party also wants to drop the eurozone single currency.

In neighboring Italy, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which also wants an exit from the euro currency zone, has grown into the country's second-biggest political force.

All eyes on the UK

On June 23, around 46 million Britons are eligible to vote on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU, or leave the 28-member bloc. The latest YouGov poll, cited in "The Times" on Monday, found that UK opinon remains tight, with 42 percent in favor of staying in the EU, and 40 supporting a Brexit.

According to results published by Ipsos-MORI, 49 percent of people in poll's eight participating countries thought Britain would vote to leave the EU next month - 14 percent more than in the UK itself. Some 48 percent of percent of respondents also thought a Brexit vote next month would result in other countries also leaving the bloc, compared with 18 percent who disagreed.

Economic fears

The poll also found that 51 percent of participants believe that the UK's departure from the EU, or the so-called Brexit, would be damaging to the EU economy, while only 36 percent think it would be detrimental to Britain's. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), warned last month, however that a Brexit scenario would have huge economical repercussions for the archipelago.

"We made a whole series of calculations and we came out saying Brexit is a tax; it's equivalent to roughly missing on one month's income within four years and then it carries on and there's a consistent loss," OECD secretary general Jose Angel Gurria warned.

The International Monetary Fund also said a potential Brexit would deal a damaging blow to Britain and the global economy.

Two women sticking up a 'polling station' sign
On June 23, around 46 million Britons are eligible to vote on whether the UK should remain a member of the EUImage: Reuters/D. Staples

"Out" campaigners in the UK insist, however, that given its standing as the world's fifth-biggest economy, the UK would flourish outside the EU by saving annual contributions to the bloc, freeing itself of red tape and allowing it to strike its own independent trade deals.

The online survey also found that just over 20 percent of respondents thought there would be more integration by 2020, compared with 40 percent who thought there would be less.

The poll was conducted between March 25 and April 8.