Brewing Conflict over Greece: Germany’s Finance Minister Mulls Taking on Merkel

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Peter Müller, René Pfister and Christian Reiermann, June 12, 2015 (Photo Gallery).

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble appears to have given up hope of a satisfactory outcome to the Greek crisis. Unlike the chancellor, he is willing to cut the rope on Athens. But will he dare to dig in his heels and defy Merkel?  

It was a dramatic week. One in which the rumors did the rounds that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was basically as good as gone; that he had fallen out with Chancellor Merkel and was planning a coup. Then, at the end of this turbulent week, Schäuble made a joke … //

… His Own Man: … //
… Turning to Euphemisms: … //
… Refusing to be Blackmailed: … //
… Good Cop, Bad Cop: … //

… A Sinister Agenda?

That’s why she’s so annoyed with Schäuble. And he is suspected of having more sinister motives. Could he be out to destroy Kohl’s legacy because he has been denied the opportunity to build on it himself? It’s a stretch, to be sure, but the fact that many in the CDU are thinking in such Shakespearean terms suggests that they are keeping a close eye on Schäuble.

If he wanted to, Schäuble could easily drum up support for a rebellion against Merkel. In February, when the Bundestag voted to extend financial aid to Greece, over 100 members of parliament stressed it was for the last time — and only voted in favor of the extension because Schäuble had made his position on Greece clear. Were he to give it the thumbs down, Merkel will have a tough time persuading her party otherwise.

A recent meeting of the CDU parliamentary faction illustrated the extent to which parliament is on Schäuble’s side. The session would normally begin with the finance minister giving a brief summary of the state of negotiations with Athens, but this time he merely told his listeners that he had nothing to report. “The situation is the same as it was two weeks ago,” he said. “There’s been no change.”

A wave of mirth went through the room, with parliamentarians laughing in agreement. They knew exactly what he meant: He had lost faith that the Greeks would find a sensible solution. But first and foremost, he was implying that Merkel’s involvement had failed to move things along. Schäuble knows full well that the chancellor is not at liberty to bail out anyone as she sees fit. She has to take the IMF into consideration, as well as her counterparts in Germany’s partner countries — some of whom make Schäuble look like he’s positively soft on Greece.

Merkel could see the effect of Schäuble’s comment and chose not to respond with her own version of events. But she can only hope that he refrains from starting a rebellion. She knows how stubborn he is, but ultimately, he has always ended up toeing the line. He owes his longevity to his resilience. He put up with forever being Kohl’s crown prince, and he put up with Merkel passing him over and appointing Horst Köhler president. The expectation in Merkel’s circles is that he will now put up with her decision on Greece — reluctantly, perhaps, but he will be loyal nonetheless.

There is much to back up this theory. “The finance minister needs to accept that the chancellor might not always agree with him,” he said in the fall of 2009, shortly after he assumed office. But now that he will be turning 73 this September, he might no longer feel he needs to be as agreeable. Being obstinate, after all, is the prerogative of the elderly.

(full long text).

Related Links:

on en.wikipedia:

on Spiegel Online International:


zu Griechenland im Spiegel online:

Other Links:

Pentagon seeks network of new US military bases in Iraq, on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by Thomas Gaist, 13 June 2015, June 13, 2015;

Hackers compromised US security-clearance database – report,on Russia Today RT, June 13, 2015;

The Strategic Defeat of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-bulletin no 1127, by Sungur Savran, June 12, 2015;

Police killed over 500 people in the US this year, on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, by Tom Hall and Andre Damon, 12 June 2015;

German Companies Stop Sales of Monsanto’s “Roundup” Herbicide, on Global (first in german on Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten), by Eric Zuesse, June 12, 2015;

Audio: Two Decades After – a Different Kind of State, 23.12 min, on, June 2, 2015: on the Continuing Need for Democratic Administration. Presentation at the 2015 Congress of the Humanities and Social Science/Society for Socialist Studies.

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