Oct. 1 - German taxpayers will have to pay the biggest share of bailing out weaker economies as the debt crisis bites ever deeper, but on the streets of the capital Berlin, faith in closer European unity seems unscathed. David Sincock reports.
Munich's world famous Oktoberfest is an eagerly awaited opportunity for Germans indulge in some of their favourite pastimes This year's - the 179th - has opened with the customary razzmattazz, and louder than usual protests about the beer prices. But with the euro crisis also in full swing, are Germans losing faith in the single currency and the whole European project? The best-selling tabloid Bild has condemned the bailouts for Greece and others, but generally takes a strongly pro-Europe editorial line. Deputy editor-in-chief Nikolaus Blome believes the debt crisis is moving up the agenda for his readers. (SOUNDBITE) (English): NIKOLAUS BLOME, DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BILD, SAYING: "They are far more interested in what's happening in the other countries because it's so interconnected by the euro, as we learned out of the Greek crisis. So German people tend to ask more questions about the euro, about European integration, and in a way more sceptical because so much has gone wrong." Opinion polls tell conflicting stories - one earlier this month found nearly two thirds of Germans think they'd be better off without the euro. But on the streets of the capital Berlin, most seem to recognise the benefits of the single currency. (SOUNDBITE) (English): UNIDENTIFIED BERLIN RESIDENT, SAYING: "The whole idea of Europe is to stick together and help each other out." (SOUNDBITE) (English): UNIDENTIFIED BERLIN RESIDENT, SAYING: "For togetherness, it's important that Germany has to pay, yes." Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing a re-election campaign in 2013, must strike a difficult balance. If Europe fails she gets the blame, but more costly bailouts for other countries would also be hugely unpopular. Political scientist Konstantin Voessing of Berlin's Humboldt University says there's little political capital to be made from any rise in euro scepticism. (SOUNDBITE) (English): KONSTANTIN VOESSING, HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "I don't think anyone is going to benefit from it politically. I don't think there is any party that have would have the courage or the ability given the political situation in Germany to bring a very euro sceptic agenda into the political arena and benefit from it electorally". PTC Germany's role as the driver and paymaster of European integration will come under the spotlight in next year's national elections - but the issue may not prove divisive enough to overturn Angela Merkel's centre right coalition. David Sincock, Reuters.