Within the last year, the German Pirate Party easily entered four provincial German parliaments. The next national German election is due in late 2013. There could be more surprises in store.
In Greece, therefore, the parties of the old European regime of center-right and center-left have been forced to band together against the newcomers. One might expect that their counterparts in the EPP and the PES, and especially in Germany, would do everything to help them.
On the contrary, hostility toward the new Greek government is widespread in Germany. “Patience with Athens Nearing an End in Germany” is a typical headline in the German press. Among more sober German voices, the respected weekly Die Zeit recently asked (July 24): “Precisely when Greece is cutting back like never before, why is Berlin sparking a debate about an exit of that country from the Euro?”
For all the talk of pan-European political parties, there is a grave lack of communication between their Greek and German counterparts. They truly do not speak the same language.
On the Greek side, for instance, both the New Democracy party and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement felt obliged to promise to “renegotiate the memorandum” in their election campaigns of June 2012. Anything less would have been electoral suicide. The guidelines of their joint government likewise aimed at replacing some of the most painful details of the bailout terms with “equivalent measures.” Such talk went down badly with Greece’s creditors.
In the meantime, Greece had a visit of the “Troika” that monitors its compliance with the bailouts: the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. By all accounts, the long discussions between the Troika and the Greek government reached a satisfactory conclusion.
The Troika ruled out various “equivalent measures,” but agreed to consider others. Before leaving on August 5, it also approved in principle the government’s package of further cuts in the public sector for 2013-2014. If the details can be resolved to mutual satisfaction, in September the Troika will agree to the continuation of the bailout.
There should be a sympathetic welcome for a Greek government that risks domestic unpopularity in its resolve to deal with the grave flaws that have plagued the modern Greek state since its birth in the 1820s (as I have described elsewhere). But many leading German politicians refuse to believe it.
Thus the German mass-circulation publication Bild am Sonntag published two articles on August 5 regarding Greece. One described the agreement reached with the Troika as a glimmer of hope, noting the new list of sacrifices imposed upon the Greek public. The other was an interview with Markus Söder, a prominent German conservative, who demanded that Greece should be thrown out of the Eurozone forthwith. We recall that Söder’s party (the CSU) is a member of the European People’s Party along with the New Democracy – but no European solidarity here.
Germany’s best-known magazine, Der Spiegel, responded on August 7 by placing Söder along with Alexis Tsipras, the leader of SYRIZA, upon its list of “the ten most dangerous politicians of Europe in the Euro Crisis.” That verdict cannot be faulted.
All those discussions in Germany, by the way, were immediately picked up and reprinted by the press in Greece.
The anti-Greek hysteria in Germany is shortsighted. German politicians should reflect that if the revolution against the old regime is not stopped in Greece, it may turn up on their own doorstep.
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.