Is the dog that hasn’t barked starting to growl a little more loudly?
One in four Germans would be set to vote in September’s federal election for a party that wants to quit the euro, according to an opinion poll published on Monday that highlights German unease over the costs of the euro zone crisis. Germany’s mainstream parties remain solidly pro-euro despite grumbling over costly bailouts of Greece and others. A German taboo on nationalism, rooted in atonement for the crimes of the Nazi era, has helped to muffle eurosceptic voices.
But the poll conducted by TNS-Emnid for the weekly Focus magazine showed 26 percent of Germans would consider backing a party that wanted to take Germany out of the euro and as many as four in 10 Germans in the 40-49 age bracket would do so. The survey, which canvassed the views of 1,007 people on March 6-7, coincides with the launch of a new party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), that calls the euro a “fatal mistake”, though political analysts play down its election chances. AfD and other German critics of the euro say it is unfair and undemocratic to expect Germany to bear the costs of other countries’ economic mistakes and call for a return to the Deutschmark. “Every people should be able democratically to decide its own currency,” the AfD said on its website.
The wire service notes that the party (“comprising mostly academics and business people”) is a very long shot. That’s true, unfortunately, but it’s still depressing to read this:
Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, said AfD was unlikely to gather much momentum because it was effectively a single-issue party and that Germans had more pressing concerns than the fate of the euro. “Most of those who talk about the dangers of the euro and long for a return to the Deutschmark will still vote conservative in the end. They believe Merkel will protect them, they feel safer with her than voting for a new party,” he said.
And that’s depressing — more than that, really — for two reasons. One of the great achievements of post-war Germany has been the way that it has been anchored to the notion of liberal, representative national democracy, a notion that is under direct assault from an EU now rapidly evolving into a post-democratic directorate that will, on occasion, preserve the form of democracy but rarely the content. Abandoning the euro (at least in its current form) would represent a major, and welcome, change of course away from that disastrous route, and thus something that ought to be a “pressing concern.” But it seems that it is not.
It’s also less than cheering to see the faith that conservatives still place in Mrs. Merkel. The chancellor is, to be sure, a tough and savvy politician, but when it comes to respect for democracy she remains all too evidently the product of the East Germany in which she grew up.
Here’s another reminder. MNI reports:
Germany’s center-right CDU/CSU-FDP government coalition is looking for ways to avoid the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, having to vote on an eventual extension of the maturity of bailout loans to Ireland and Portugal, the German business daily Handelsblatt reported Monday.
The problem, you see, is that parliament might vote the “wrong” way (against the loan extensions), and that would not do.