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Keeping the euro at any cost? Explaining attitudes toward the euro-austerity trade-off in Greece

Date: 21/06/2020

Publication: Sage Journal

Despite years of crisis, the euro has enjoyed strong popular support across the Eurozone periphery. In light of the high costs of internal devaluation strategies, this begs the question why the public has remained in favor of the common currency. In this article, we propose a theoretical mechanism that accounts for both voters’ pocketbook preferences and their sociotropic assessments over the noisy trade-offs associated with the outcomes of euro membership and euro exit. Using original survey data from three consecutive survey waves in Greece (conducted in July, September, and December 2015, respectively), we analyze the attitudes of Greek voters toward the euro in an environment of acute uncertainty, austerity, high unemployment, and economic recession. First, we juxtapose our uncertainty mechanism of popular euro attitudes against other explanations put forward in the literature and find strong support for our argument. Second, we conduct a survey experiment to tap into attitudes toward the euro-austerity trade-off and find that as uncertainty over policy outcomes diminishes, framing effects abate in significance, especially among those who voted No in the July 2015 referendum. Finally, we derive distinct sets of euro preferences for different ‘vulnerability profiles’. Over time, as the trade-offs of euro membership become more pronounced, we find a marked fall in euro support between July and December 2015.