Cross-posted from Credit Writedowns
According to Der Spiegel, Helmut Kohl, the father of a unified Germany and the German politician most responsible for the single currency, is very unhappy with his protégé Angela Merkel. I found this article to be consistent with what I have heard for months about the Kohl-Waigel generation’s feelings about Merkel’s leadership during the sovereign debt crisis.
When reviewing the key players in the sovereign debt crisis, I said the following about Germany:
German Government: Led by Angela Merkel, first German Chancellor from former East; because of public opposition to bailouts, reluctant supporter of bailouts; Looking for bail-in of private investor losses; Finance Minister Schaeuble only minister with institutional memory of pre-Euro German political imperatives; More unilateralist and markedly less ‘pro-European’ than previous German governments.
Kohl has vehemently denied the Spiegel account as the disclaimer at the end of the article attests. Nevertheless, it is likely true in substance if not form. My translation of the full article is below.
"She is destroying my Europe." With these harsh words, Helmut Kohl is said to have criticized the crisis policy of the chancellor. According to SPIEGEL sources, the former Chancellor finds Merkel’s euro strategy "very dangerous". He is not the only party member who has distanced himself from the CDU leader.
As manager of the euro crisis Angela Merkel has been able to convince only the few. The Bundesbank boss cannot recognize a strategy from the government. European political colleagues like the Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager demand more leadership from the Chancellor. And now comes even more criticism from former Chancellor Helmut Kohl who apparently has nothing left for Merkel’s approach.
According to a SPIEGEL source, Kohl criticized the European political strategy of the CDU leader sharply. A friend, who visited the former chancellor recently reported that Kohl thinks Merkel’s European policy "very dangerous". Kohl is to have said: "She is destroying my Europe", a confidant of the former chancellor said.
Given the euro crisis, other prominent CDU politicians have warned Merkel as well about squandering the the pro-European legacy of the party. "Europe is a political project. It is too important to leave it to the rating agencies," says the Minister President of Hesse and deputy CDU leader Volker Bouffier.
"The government must now go on the offensive"
Similarly, the business wing of the party finds a clear approach in European policy to be missing."The last thing that an export nation like Germany can afford is a eurosceptic population," says the head of the CDU’s economic council, Kurt Lauk. "The government must now go on the offensive."
A few weeks ago, the Chancellor even had to suffer the label of euro-populist. She had made headlines because she criticized the pension and retirement arrangements in the indebted euro states – and thus accused the Southern Europeans of working too little.
Regarding other important issues, the Chancellor was silent – perhaps out of concern that another gaffe could lead to renewed unrest in the markets. However, this strategy makes a lot of experts puzzled: What are the chancellor real intention? Some already fear that, with the euro the European project as a whole could fail. Finally, almost everywhere on the continent right-wing populist parties are on the rise.
Merkel: the new Thatcher?
European commentators, see Berlin as particularly responsible for doing something about the wasting away of the euro. Some critics are already comparing the Chancellor to Margaret Thatcher – because the former British prime minister drove along a decidedly Eurosceptic course.
Merkel’s reputation as blocker has recently strengthened, because she initially blocked a special summit on the crisis in Greece. She wanted to come to a summit only if a second aid package for Greece could be concluded. In the end, a meeting was convened. The Heads of State and Government of the Euro-zone will meet on Thursday to find a solution to the debt crisis.
Most recently, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (also CDU) warned of a collapse of the euro. "This crisis of confidence triggered by Greece puts the euro as a whole at risk," he said. In the CDU-CSU Union some MPs are requesting – as are some economic experts – a determined effort from European governments, to grant Greece a debt restructuring.
Editor’s note: Helmut Kohl has declared in the "Bild"-Zeitung that the statements attributed to him in SPIEGEL are fictitious. SPIEGEL stands by its account.
Source: Helmut Kohl rechnet mit Merkels Europapolitik ab – Spiegel
German readers should also see „Kohl ist nicht auf der Höhe der Zeit“ from Handelsblatt
Comments with further information appreciated