The rift between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and its junior coalition partner appears to be deepening as the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) over the weekend defend controversial comments made last week by FDP leader Philipp Rösler about a possible “orderly default” of highly indebted Greece.
The comments released a storm of infighting, rattled already jittery markets, and moved Merkel to call for leaders to weigh their public statements carefully regarding the euro and Greece.
On Saturday, FDP General-Secretary Christian Lindner defended his party’s stance, telling the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper that that the result would be political frustration if “earning the confidence of the markets became more important than earning the trust of the citizens.”
Lindner also hit back against statements made by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble indirectly calling on the FDP to stay out of the euro matter.
In an interview with the Bild am Sonntag weekly, Schäuble, a member of Merkel’s CDU, said that “in a democracy, there is freedom of speech. But within the federal government, the finance minister is responsible for finance policy.”
The FDP has had a disastrous year politically, and observers say its new stance toward the euro and opposition to Merkel’s stated policy is an attempt to garner votes from Germans who are wary of additional Greek bailouts. Berlin is holding local elections on Sunday, and the FDP is in danger of not making into the state government.
“The FDP is the only party delivering straight talk about the euro,” said Berlin’s top FDP candidate Christoph Meyer. “That’s why we are making the Berlin election a euro election. That’s been agreed on with our national party leaders, who support Philipp Rösler’s position 100 percent.”
But that stance is ruffling feathers in the CDU and there has been media speculation about the very future of the governing coalition if tensions escalate.
The premier of Thuringia slammed the FDP euro strategy as an attempt to stay afloat politically and risking the stability of the common currency.
“Is the FPD that much further away from bankruptcy than Greece?” she said.