Τρίτη, 2 Απριλίου 2013

Alternative für Deutschland: Λιγότερη "Ευρώπη"


Παραδόξως, εγώ δεν θέλω να τα βρει η Γερμανία με την Γαλλία.  Ούτε πιστεύω στην δήθεν Γαλλική άποψη περι "χαλαρώματος".  Πιστεύω στο "κάθε κατεργάρης στον πάγκο του". Φυσικά και το "Γερμανικό θαύμα" βασίζεται σε εξαγωγές στην "Ευρώπη", με το ζόρι και με δόλο και με καταστροφή κάθε αυτόνομης παραγωγής πλην Γερμανικής, και με την συνεργασία των Γάλλων. Λαδωθήκαμε, δανειστήκαμε και επιδοτηθήκαμε για να διαλυθούμε, πρός όφελός τους. Και μεταξύ Μέρκελ και συνασπισμού Σοσιαλιστών και Πρασίνων, Alternative für Deutschland

Summary

In the lead-up to elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel must balance rising anti-German sentiment on the Continent with domestic demands to be tough on struggling economies in the eurozone periphery. Merkel's ability to strike this balance will influence whether she is re-elected, and it will affect the stability of the Franco-German alliance, upon which the preservation of the European Union and eurozone rests.

Germany's elections will be held Sept. 22. Regardless of whether Merkel wins re-election, the next government's biggest test will be maintaining its relationship with France. To do this, Germany must be more open to negotiating with France and the countries in the periphery. However, doing so will further challenge the German leadership to convince the population of the importance of European integration to the country's prosperity.

Analysis

Although Berlin is being criticized for deepening the economic crisis through its demands for austerity and sweeping economic reforms, Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union party still enjoy high domestic approval ratings. A poll conducted March 19-21 by the German institute Forschungsgruppe Wahlen projected that the Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union, would win 40 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections while the main opposition parties -- the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party -- would get 29 and 14 percent, respectively. Merkel's popularity is linked to the German population's appreciation of how she has handled the crisis. With its low unemployment rates and borrowing costs, Germany has shown a resilience to the economic crisis that has left the country largely unscathed from problems elsewhere in the eurozone.

As a result of the Cypriot crisis, most Germans who participated in the poll said the European economic crisis is their primary concern. Sixty-four percent said they still believe the crisis could worsen. Germany exports more than 55 percent of its goods to other EU countries, and eight of the top 10 German export markets are in Europe. Though Germany has been able to increase its exports outside of Europe, this cannot fully compensate for decreasing European demand, especially if import markets like China see a slowdown. An important stabilizing factor for the German economy is domestic demand, which is driven by high employment, rising wages and low interest rates. But with fear that the crisis could deepen, domestic demand -- already expected to decline in the future due to Germany's aging and declining population -- could dip as consumer confidence erodes.

Domestic Politics

Unemployment in Germany is unlikely to increase rapidly ahead of the elections, but economic stagnation in the wider eurozone -- especially if it weakens Germany's trade -- will increasingly put Merkel's crisis management to the test. By demanding austerity in the rest of Europe, the German political opposition will place responsibility for worsening the domestic crisis on the current government. Conservative groups within Merkel's own coalition have long criticized her for bailing out other countries with German taxpayers' money. They will likely suggest that all of her measures thus far have been fruitless, since the crisis is still deepening and indebted countries are losing the political bandwidth to implement painful but necessary structural reforms. Though skepticism toward the bailouts has been considerably widespread in Germany, Merkel's center-right coalition so far has been able to capture those votes. But Merkel's coalition is facing a new threat with the recent establishment of a party called Alternative for Germany, which has already attracted a number of former Christian Democratic Union and Free Democratic Party members. The new party calls for less EU centralization and an end to the bailout policies, and suggests that troubled countries be permitted to leave the eurozone to regain competitiveness.

Relationship with France

In addition to focusing more closely on domestic politics, Merkel must cultivate Germany's relationship with France. The Franco-German alliance is the pillar of the European Union and the eurozone. Historically, European integration was supposed to solidify Germany's economic strength and France's role as a political leader, but the European crisis and more recently the two countries' diverging economic performances are increasingly straining the relationship. France is facing its highest unemployment rate in a decade and likely will not meet the EU deficit target this year. Merkel is under growing pressure to be more accommodating to France's wishes in order to maintain the alliance and contain anti-German sentiment. Berlin will likely to accept that two core countries, France and the Netherlands, as well as other significant economies such as Spain, will breach the deficit target this year. Merkel will be criticized for applying double standards by giving in to France's demands while requiring austerity in smaller eurozone countries. Apart from reminding France that long-term reforms are necessary, there is little Berlin can do to pressure Paris. Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will likely present a plan to deepen European integration in the coming months to highlight the endurance of the bilateral relationship amid growing economic pressures.

Beyond Elections

Preserving the Franco-German relationship will become even more important for the next German government as the crisis in France worsens. Germany fears becoming more isolated, should France become the leader of the group challenging Berlin's strategy, which so far is only composed of peripheral countries. Berlin is increasingly having trouble keeping all countries on a track of further European integration while also promoting austerity and structural reforms. This is causing anti-German sentiment and support for anti-establishment parties to grow. Moreover, it highlights the question of eurozone solidarity. The common market and currency facilitate Germany's access to the European-wide consumer base that is vital to its export-oriented economy. The German leadership eventually would be willing to give in to demands, such as broadening the role of the European Central Bank and mutualizing debt, in order to maintain that common currency and market. However, the challenge for the next German government will be to convince the population that European integration not only influences but is a driving force of the country's prosperity. German financial support may be needed, perhaps permanently, if the integration is going to survive. But it will be difficult to convince the public to back such a move, especially if the German economy weakens and voters feel that poorer countries are taking advantage of Germany's wealth. Over the past years, many of Germany's leading politicians have suggested that the German people should be consulted regarding greater integration efforts in order to maintain the European Union's political legitimacy. This could further challenge the German leadership as the economic crisis deepens and social unrest and opposition toward the European Union in the periphery grows.

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