German voters unhappy at possible bailout of profligate Greek government may yearn for days of deutschmark
Resistance in Germany towards helping bail out Greece, its troubled eurozone partner, was growing today amid fears that financial assistance for Athens would be hard to justify to the German voter.
"Germany is going to have to shoulder Greece's debt burden … but no one dares tell the German taxpayer," wrote Henryk Muller in the online version of Der Spiegel.
Some commentators suggested calls would grow for the return of the beloved currency the Germans relinquished just over a decade ago, in return for economic stability in Europe.
"At this rate the Germans will wish the return of the deutschmark," said the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an acerbic editorial, stressing that Germany had not signed up to the euro "in order that it could pay for Greece's debts … this is not how they sold the euro to the Germans". Most German politicians were cautious about criticising Greece for its poor public spending management.
But within the Free Democrats (FDP), the junior partner in Angela Merkel's coalition government, the dissent was loudest.
"We cannot expect the citizens, whose taxes are already too high, to go along with supporting the erroneous financial and budget policy of other states of the eurozone," said Karl-Ludwig Thiele, the vice-chief whip of the FDP, adding that Greece's financial crisis was "not a result of the economic crisis, but self-made".
Addressing the German public's concerns about what the effect on German finances might be if it helped Greece by agreeing to buy Greek debt, Die Welt said "it would have a negative impact on Germany's creditworthiness", and could end up "costing every German taxpayer an extra 40 euros this year".
An indication of how truly stoked German fears were was the FAZ's concern that Germany may even end up paying for Greece's retirees.
"The Greeks go onto the streets to protest against the increase of the pension age from 61 to 63.
"Does that mean that the Germans should in future extend the working age from 67 to 69, so that the Greeks can enjoy their retirement?"
Several German economists warned that the collapse of the euro was a possibility.
"If Greece is bust, it could bring the whole euro system down," said financial markets expert Rudolf Hickel, of the institute for labour and economy at the University of Bremen.
"There are enough people speculating on the markets about the possible bankruptcy of Greece, and once Greece goes, they would then turn their attentions to Spain and Italy, and Germany and France would be forced to step in once again," he said.
Reports that prices of imported goods would probably rise over the next few weeks if the euro continued to weaken were also rife.
"The less the euro is worth, the more we'll have to pay for petrol, heating oil and gas," wrote a commentator in the tabloid Bild under the heading: The desperate fight to save the euro has begun.
On the positive side though, the paper suggested that demand for German exports, which has taken a savage hit during the financial crisis because they have been too expensive abroad, would rise as the euro weakened.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017