Berlin Almost 12,000 US soldiers are to leave Germany. The announcement has caused outrage in government and opposition. The voters have a different opinion though.
While the majority of politicians in Germany reject the planned withdrawal of US troops, the majority of the population agrees.
According to a survey by the polling institute YouGov on behalf of the dpa, 47 percent are in favor of a reduction of the current 36,000 soldiers. Every fourth person even thinks that the US forces should leave Germany completely. In contrast, not even one in three (32 percent) is in favour of American troops remaining at their current strength (28 percent) or even being increased (4 percent). 21 percent did not make any comment.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced last week that he wants to withdraw almost 12,000 soldiers from Germany. 6400 are to be returned to the USA, about 5600 are to be transferred to other NATO states in Europe - according to the current status, mainly to Italy and Belgium. Locations in Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate are affected.
Five of the six parliamentary groups represented in the Bundestag reject the withdrawal of troops. Only the Left Party thinks it is a good idea, but wants all US soldiers to leave the country. The picture is different for the voters. Only among the supporters of the CDU/CSU, those who are against a reduction of US soldiers outnumber those who are against it with 45 to 41 percent. Among the voters of all other parties, those in favour of a withdrawal of troops - to varying degrees - are in the majority: the SPD has 42 vs 40 percent, the Greens 52 vs 35, the FDP 52 vs 36, the AfD 61 vs 28 and the Left 70 vs 18 percent.
The opinion is even clearer when it comes to the US nuclear bombs in Germany. Their withdrawal is not planned. The SPD leadership, however, is demanding it and is meeting with resentment from the coalition partner CDU/CSU. In return, the Social Democrats have two thirds of the population behind them. 66 percent are in favour of the disappearance of the estimated 20 bombs stored at the airbase Büchel in Rhineland-Palatinate. Only 19 percent want them to stay there. 16 percent do not give any details.
Despite all understanding for the reduction of troops - only a minority can understand US President Donald Trump's reasons for this. Only one in four (25 percent) shares his view that Germany is spending too little on defence. 58 percent do not agree. Germany is still clearly missing the NATO target of investing two percent of its economic power in the military, despite rising defense spending, at 1.38 percent.
Original text: dpa
Translation: Mareike Graepel