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Germany Turns Against Merkel

Merkel's mishandling of the Greek crisis is causing Germans to question her judgement, if not yet her leadership

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Russia Insider has been writing for several months now about how the real Angela Merkel is a very different person from the strong and decisive leader her own carefully propagated myth about herself claims her to be.

What is not being discussed outside Germany to any very great degree is that in Germany itself the myth is starting to fray, even amongst Germans who do not follow the news closely and who would normally be expected to support her.

The cause is not the Ukrainian crisis but the latest bailout of Greece.

At Russia Insider we have explained how the Merkel’s dithering and inability to take a clear position in the Greek crisis has created an unsustainable situation, unwanted by everyone.

Greece is being forced to accept a further massive dose of austerity without a promise of a debt haircut so that it can stay in the euro. 

Germany is being forced to pay billions more in euros to bailout Greece so as to keep Greece in the euro.

No serious economist meanwhile believes this resulting mix of policies - imposing further harsh austerity on Greece whilst refusing to cut a debt that is obviously unsustainable - can work, when it has obviously failed before.

The same skepticism is shared by the IMF.

All this is because Merkel bowed to US pressure and failed to support her Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble, who proposed that Greece leave the eurozone and be allowed to default outside it.

This situation where Merkel’s weakness and dithering in the face of US pressure has landed Germany with a massively expensive policy no-one thinks will work has for the first time exposed Merkel to sustained and widespread criticism in Germany itself.

Bild-Zeitung, the mass circulation German right-wing tabloid newspaper, has been particularly outspoken in its criticism.

The German parliament, the Bundestag, is due to vote on the bailout plan on 19th August 2015. Whilst it is certain to pass because of support from the SPD and the Greens, there is widespread speculation of a large-scale rebellion from within Merkel’s own CDU party. Merkel has even been obliged to cancel foreign trips in order to try and quell the rebellion.

The rebellion within the CDU over the Greek bailout plan does not yet translate into a direct challenge against Merkel’s leadership. Mindful of Merkel’s popularity many of the CDU rebels continue to declare their loyalty to her.

This crisis however is the first occasion when Merkel has found herself swimming against the tide of opinion both in Germany as a whole and in her own party. For the first time her judgement is being questioned by a majority of Germans.  

As I wrote for Russia Insider shortly after the latest Greek bailout agreement “….the single most important result of the latest twist in the Greek crisis is the way it has smoked Merkel out”. 

So it is turning out. With the situation both in Greece and Ukraine set to deteriorate further soon, it is only a question of time before Merkel’s judgement - and her leadership - is questioned even more.

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