Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Driven By Desperation
While Greece dithers about its future within the EU and the Merkozy decide Greece should have its own bank account, it's well known in EU circles, that Angela Merkel's relationship with Nicolas Sarkozy has been fraught at times. Therefore it was a surprise to many to find that she has decided to openly campaign for her French colleague who is facing elections this year.
Although the EU is based on a ruling German/French duo - Adenauer and de Gaulle hammered out the Elysee Treaty and Kohl and Mitterand held hands over the graves of Verdun - there is unease in Germany, because if Sarkozy lost it would be a severe setback for Berlin.
Merkel's reason for offering her support to the weak Sarkozy is not because he supported her during her campaign but because she is horrified at the prospect of Sarkozy's challenger, the socialist Francois Hollande, succeeding. Hollande describes himself as a 'pragmatic leftist' but his campaign manifesto is so full of expensive promises that even the centre-left Social Democrats in Germany have their doubts about him. Holland's European policy is causing Merkel particular concern and so far she has primarily been able to push through her vision of European austerity only because she knows Sarkozy is on her side.
Hollande has already stated clearly that he will overturn the fiscal pact, the heart of Merkel's European policy and it's this which causes the German chancellor grief.
Why would the leader of a country attempt to influence the electorate of another when it's none of their business? It smacks of desperation but it also shows how far Merkel will go to ensure her EU monetary policy succeeds.
Will her public support be effective? At present the feeling is that Hollande should silently savour Merkel's intervention because it may end up helping him more than Sarkozy. Many French voters are fed up with their president, who is constantly citing Germany as a shining economic example for France.
I'm uncomfortable with this and wonder if it's the start of German interference into elections in other member states. Sarkozy has three months before he faces his country. The Merkel/Sarkozy co-operative campaign kicked off yesterday with a joint television interview broadcast on Germany's ZDF and the French station France 2.
The EU is progressing in a distinctly autocratic manner. If Sarkozy does win the Merkel will be further empowered and that doesn't bode well for the future of Europe.