Germany’s obstinate chancellor
Angela Merkel, swimming instructor
When it comes to the euro, the German chancellor prefers self-help to help—but she can be more flexible than she seems
When warnings sound that the end of the euro is nigh, all eyes turn to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Germany must “assume its part” in saving the currency, says Spain’s economy minister, Luis de Guindos. If there is rescuing to be done, Germany is the obvious rescuer. Yet rather than toss out the lifebelt, Mrs Merkel offers swimming lessons.
She would find this characterisation unfair. Time and again she has taken stands against bail-outs only to relent. She balked at bailing out Greece and at a permanent rescue fund, and she vetoed the use of bail-out money to buy government bonds in the secondary market. In each case she gave in (too late,say critics).
By July she will push through parliament the European Stability Mechanism(ESM), the permanent fund she once opposed, and Europe’s fiscal compact.