Several German political heavyweights weighed in Saturday on how a Hollande victory over current French President Nicolas Sarkozy might affect the German-French partnership, and the future of the austerity measures pushed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, prominent member of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), said he was convinced that if Hollande is elected Sunday, “he will make joint policies with Germany,” and would approach the problems facing the euro zone “pragmatically.”
Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) said he did not think German-French cooperation will be damaged if the Socialist French candidate is elected.
“I don’t think that the statements made during the French election campaign should be given too much value,” Genscher told daily newspaper Die Welt. “Both candidates in Paris are united in calling for an investment initiative. And that will come, as long as it doesn’t lead down the path to more public debt.”
Volker Kauder, head of the parliamentary faction of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) appeared confident that the fiscal pact agreed by the eurozone countries will not be weakened.
Kauder told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that only the austerity measures in the fiscal pact can bring Europe’s spiralling debt under control. “That is how our partners see it, too,” he told the paper.
Hollande has said that if elected he would write to all heads of government in the eurozone proposing that a “growth pact” be added to the existing fiscal pact. The concept of a growth pact is supported by the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi.
Steinmeier warned Merkel not to act as if there were a “large conflict” with Hollande. Steinmeier told the newspapers of the WAZ-Mediagroup that “all prejudices that he doesn’t understand Europe are clearly wrong.”