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Merkel reportedly to back Draghi as ECB chief

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Merkel reportedly to back Draghi as ECB chief
Photo: DPA
10:06 CEST+02:00
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her crucial support behind Italy's Mario Draghi as the next head of the European Central Bank, the daily Bild reported on Friday.

Merkel wants "the most German among the remaining candidates" to replace Jean-Claude Trichet when the Frenchman steps down in October, the paper quoted an unnamed official at the German chancellery as saying.

Bild, Germany's top-selling newspaper, indicated Merkel had concluded Draghi had those "German" qualities of fiscal conservatism, commitment to a stable euro and willingness to push debt-laden eurozone countries towards reforms.

The newspaper even featured an irreverent photo montage of Draghi donning a

typical spiked Prussian helmet. "It suits him," the sensationalist daily wrote.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert had insisted on Wednesday that there could be no agreement on the future ECB chief without Berlin's backing, after France and Italy appeared to anoint Draghi, 63, at a summit in Rome.

But he stopped short of revealing whether Merkel supported Draghi, the current head of Italy's central bank, saying Germany's voice would be taken into account before a final decision is taken at an EU summit in June.

Meanwhile Bild itself, which holds powerful political sway in Germany, dropped its own reservations about Draghi and offered a lengthy list of what it saw as his attributes: strict, down-to-earth, ambitious, loyal and independent.

Just one year ago, Bild wrote "An Italian of all things!" to dismiss Draghi's bid to replace Trichet, adding as recently as February that "inflation is as much a part of Italian life as tomato sauce and pasta."

Merkel was said to be hesitant about Draghi in part out of fear of the reaction of Germany's mass-market media.

Analysts say there is no other realistic alternative to lead the world's second most powerful central bank after the Federal Reserve in Washington.

Germany's own candidate for the position, Axel Weber, who is stepping down Friday as head of the powerful Bundesbank, pulled out of the race unexpectedly, leaving Berlin without a credible second choice.

AFP/mry

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