FT poll finds support for German to head ECB
A German candidate to take over as head of the European Central Bank would have more support across the continent than any other, a poll published Tuesday by the Financial Times has found.
The FT/Harris poll found that in France and Spain, more of those surveyed, 26 percent, would prefer the ECB be run by a German than by one of their own when Jean-Claude Trichet of France steps down later this year.
In Germany itself, more than one-third preferred a domestic candidate, but even in Italy, 25 percent would be happy with a German, slightly less than the 26 percent who said they would like an Italian to hold the position.
Up till now, the leading candidates have been considered as Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi and his German counterpart, Axel Weber.
Weber has raised hackles among European Union leaders with public criticism of ECB purchases of eurozone government debt, while the FT poll showed Draghi enjoyed little popular support outside his own country.
The choice of who will succeed Trichet in October is important because the ECB president has been key to finding ways of dealing with the eurozone debt crisis.
Weber's economic positions are quite orthodox, with a strong focus on fighting inflation, but a compromise German candidate might be found in Klaus Regling, head of the the new European Financial Stability Facility.
In Britain, which does not belong to the eurozone, almost 20 percent thought a German was best placed to run the ECB, far more than any other nationality.
Another often mentioned possibility however is Finnish central bank governor Erkki Liikanen, who would strike a geographical balance with ECB vice president Vitor Constancio of Portugal.
It is not sure when the decision by EU heads of state will be taken but the race is now firmly engaged.
The FT/Harris poll was conducted online from January 5-11 among 5,253 adults in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
© 2011 AFP