Schaeuble sacked as coalition offer
German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (pictured), firmly associated with the eurozone’s austerity policies, is being ditched by Chancellor Angela Merkel after the disappointment of Sunday’s election.
Schaeuble, since he was elected to the German parliament in 1972, has been interior minister, chief of staff to the chancellor and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He also nearly became president and chancellor.
But Merkel’s CDU/CSU alliance plunged from 42-per-cent support in 2013 to 33 per cent, the worst showing since 1949, leading to a shakeup.
Schaeuble, 75, is being nominated as Bundestag Speaker.
By sacking Schaeuble, Merkel has shown how seriously she intends to build a stable coalition with the FDP and the Greens. The finance ministry is more likely to go to the FDP, which won more votes than the Greens, and made clear its ambition to secure the portfolio during the election campaign.
The long-time ally of Merkel has been the most powerful backer of tight fiscal discipline for struggling eurozone members.
He once allegedly told his brother: “The older I get and the more I see as finance minister, the more sceptical I get about capitalism.”
Aristides Hatzis, an economist at the University of Athens, said Schaeuble’s “demonisation” in Greece and elsewhere made him the “architect and warden of austerity policies”.
“Schaeuble hasn’t necessarily followed his own agenda. Of course he represents the hardliners in the German government and he flirted recklessly with the idea of Grexit [kicking Greece out of the EU],” Hatzis told Al Jazeera.
“His stance, for the past seven years, created some considerable damage to the relations between Greece and Germany but also to the prospects of Germany’s political hegemony in Europe,” the academic added.
“Their good/bad cop game was quite successful, at least in the Greek case,” he said, casting Merkel as the “good cop”.
But Hatzis was dubious about whether is departure would bring profound changes.
He said: “If we notice any change this will probably be the result of the change in power equilibrium in Berlin and the strong tilt towards the right, I am also afraid that his successor might upset the delicate balance of the Greek-German relations which after a tumultuous period reached a rather stable tranquility.”
German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Picture credit: Wikimedia