Merkel is once again Chancellor of Germany – for those that missed the news a week ago. The victory was pretty convincing (although she did not win an outright majority and still needs to find a coalition partner) and a clear recognition by the German people that when it comes to management of the financial crisis, all in all, she hasn’t actually done all that bad.
Which, of course, in national elections is what counts. Germans, quite rightly, should vote for their leader according to what he or she can deliver in the national interest.
The problem is that these days we live in an ever-eurofied world, and too much of Angela Merkel’s management of the euro-crisis has been geared towards the national electorate. Screw the Greeks. They don’t cast a ballot in the German election. And there’s not actually all that many of them.
Media in Greece and Italy are understandably downcast about Merkel’s victory. I don’t read Greek, but here’s a taste from Berlusconi-owned Il Giornale in Italy.
For those that don’t speak Italian, here are the opening few lines in English:
“The Germans have rewarded, once again, the line of austerity, rigor and a pro-European grip that has devastated several countries of the Eurozone. Thus, while the main economic indicators of the Old Continent seem to rotate the minus sign in percentages above zero and analysts begin to speak with a quiet optimism of ‘recovery’, the German management of the European Union in the hands of the [Merkel] has above all contributed to this injury.”
As the largest economy in Europe, and one of the more pro-European ones, Germany rightly had to take the lead in dealing with the crisis. Furthermore, the monetary union was created at Germany’s behest, so they honestly ought to step up and deal with it.
The problem is that national sentiments have triumphed, and in saving German creditors and doggedly refusing to consider a controlled default, Merkel and advisors have pushed Greece into depression.
It’s now time for Angela Merkel to step up and, with another term under her belt, really start to work towards addressing the continuing euro-crisis. This time for the good of Europe and not just the German electorate.
The problem is that I’m not sure she’s surrounding herself with the people best suited to tackling the crux of the problem. Here’s an op-ed in the FT written just before the election by German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who suggests that everything is tickety-boo down euro-street. It now looks as though Mr Schäuble will stay on in his role.
This blog post offers a robust response to Mr Schäuble’s witterings. I make no apology that it comes from my uncle, although I would like to point out, as I am forced to on so many occasions, that we are two separate people and often hold quite different views.
In this case, though, I am compelled to concur and also ask: what exactly is the learned Mr Schäuble on about?