Although still furious at the cooked-up Gauck/Karlsruhe plot to stop Fiscal Union in its tracks, Angela Merkel has only herself to blame. Despite having ridden roughshod over the Bundestag, the Constitution, and EU Treaty Law on numerous occasions, she and her sewn-together creature Wolfgang Schäuble remain not just unrepentant, but more childishly aggressive than ever.
The court’s ‘request’ to President Gauck for a consideration-delay had Schäuble illogically whingeing as only he can do with this corker of a soundbite: “I don’t think it is smart for constitutional organs to communicate with each other publicly. And it is even less prudent for the federal government to comment on it,” he said. So that’s why he commented, then. Poor ickle Wolfie’s private little plans for a big eurojob gone wong? Aooooaaa, s’not fair.
But Sahra Wagenknecht, a senior MP in the Left Party, injected a sense of reality, arguing that the deal reached between Merkel’s conservative government, the Green Party and the SPD on Thursday to ratify the ESM and fiscal pact treaties was now “worthless.” She and other critics argue that Merkel has tried to push the legislation through parliament too quickly without giving the legislature adequate time to debate the measures. In fact, die kleine Geli has been pulling this rusty stunt for years: do nothing for too long, then delay the news of your decision, then suddenly shout “Emergency!” and panic everyone into a yes vote. (Creative people in advertising have been playing this trick on account executives since God was a girl).
Wagenknecht also claims that Fiskalpakt will limit the Bundestag’s sovereignty in determining budget policy. I wonder if somebody could explain to her that’s one of hundreds of reasons we refused to join the euro in the first place.
Despite their agreement to a support deal on ESM legislation, prominent Greens weighed into the Fuhrerin, Volker Beck accusing her of waiting too long before opening negotiations in parliament. In the SPD camp, Hubertus Heil agreed that the government itself was to blame for the delays. “It let far too much time pass before it began negotiating with the opposition,” he said. The SPD’s leader on the Bundestag floor Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he anticipated a two-to-three week delay in order to provide the court with enough time to review the constitutionality of the legislation. The odd thing remains that nobody – not even S&P – seems to be in the slightest doubt that the Karlsruhe Court will eventually allow the legislation. I’m really not sure about this, but it all depends on how ClubMed insolvency progress outside Germany changes attitudes….and the degree to which the concerned burghers of Bankfurt grab the leash and start spending some money to persuade a broader coalition of Germans that they’re making a catastrophic mistake.
Should they do so, judging by yesterday’s press coverage, they will not be lacking in media support
The business daily Handelsblatt opines:
“What actually needs to happen in order to wake up both the German government and the pro-Europe parties in parliament? For the second time in one week, the Constitutional Court has applied the brakes on the government for the overly hasty implementation of euro bailout measures. This time it is ‘requesting’ that the president wait before signing the treaty on the ESM. It’s a preemptive request, because it is assumed that the Left Party and some members of parliament will challenge the decision in parliament and that the court will need two to three weeks to review the suit. With the request, the court is able to avoid having to issue a temporary injunction against the treaty, which could lead to a complete escalation of the situation.”
“The situation that has now been created must also compel supporters of Germany’s European Union strategy — and since the deal reached on Thursday over the fiscal pact and ESM, these also include the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Greens — to think things over. There are good reasons for ratifying the ESM treaty. But this set of agreements, as well as the vote on the fiscal pact, is not some mere amendment to, say, environmental law. It is about deep encroachments into the national constitution, the transfer of sovereignty to the EU and preparations for new institutions like the ESM that, so far, have only been granted limited democratic legitimacy. It’s also about possibly paving the way for actions that would affect Germans’ property.”
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung suggests:
“The timeframe for deciding on this law is an undermining of the court’s ruling on Tuesday and it mocks the notion of parliamentary democracy. But out of her desire to position herself as the queen of the euro rescue, the chancellor has degraded the parliamentary vote to the level of a farce. (…) Merkel takes a long time to act, but then she acts with brute force and at the last second. That is not parliamentarianism but a regrettably short-sighted and amateurish style of governing.”
“The new treaties involve enormous sums of money and contain legal constructs that the law has never known before. It will create an ESM company that is above the law. The company will be able to sue but cannot be sued in return. It will be able to do and be what it wants. Is such a euro absolutism necessary to save the euro? How can one control it democratically? (…) One should be able to talk, discuss and deliberate about this. How should people’s trust in Europe grow when the government doesn’t trust the representatives of the people?”
“The ESM and the fiscal pact impinge on the core of the Bundestag’s budgetary autonomy. The constitutional court judges will probably rule that the constitution’s possibilities have been exhausted. They will then only accept the new treaties, when, within a reasonable amount of time, the people are also allowed to decide.”
Even the firmly Right-wing Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
“(The debate between the parties) … is obscuring that fact that nothing less is being negotiated than a reorganisation of Germany’s fiscal constitution. The power struggle between the federal government and the states over the burdens of the fiscal pact leads the issue right back to where it belongs — namely out of the party political arena and into the constitutional arena.”
“It won’t be the first time that the Constitutional Court rather than the Bundestag has the final word on such an issue, either. As caustic as the Karlsruhe court sounded on Thursday, it absolutely wants to have this last word. And although it might not be timely, it will be legally binding.”
Finally, normally hysterical mass-circulation tabloid Bild said:
“The ESM euro rescue fund and the fiscal pact were supposed to be forced through the Bundestag and Bundesrat at top speed. Merkel’s government hoped that it would be signed into law by the president the same night. But that is not going to happen. And justifiably so.”
“This is because the euro bailout cannot operate according to the motto that necessity knows no law. The president and the constitutional court have to thoroughly examine these laws. And that requires time. Especially when it’s a question of our money.”
It’s a long time since Left, Right, quality and tabloid opeds were so negatively united than that, but then from the start of her Reign as Euroqueen, Angela Merkel and her truly unpleasant, interfering, anti-democratic control freak money-man Wolfgang Schäuble have pulled off this feat of getting completely up the nasal passages of otherwise easy-going people. George Osborne describes the German Finance Minister in private as “creepy”, Nicolas Sarkozy once shouted along an Elysees corridor, “That f**king Kraut bitch is reverting to type”, and former Greek Premier Papandreou told a colleague over last Christmas that “beneath a chilly exterior she is ice-cold”. A senior British diplomat remarked to me last Summer, “I met Schäuble, and while this is an obvious cliched thought, I could not lose the feeling that this was Peter Sellers doing Doctor Strangelove”.
Truth be told, while The Slog never misses an opportunity to take the piss out of the current Berlin regime, I remain very deutschlich. Very happily married into an orginally German family – and with a long history of enjoying most things about Germany – the Weimar Republic and how it fell was my thesis topic at University, and is still a passionate interest. So it should come as no surprise when I tell Sloggers that without the correctness of German constitutional forms and the fierce independence of its press, Merkel would be even more encouraged as to her infallible personal deity than she is already. Wolfgang Schäuble in particular has been quite rightly hounded by the press for his ineluctable tendency to illiberal dictatorship…be the government involved Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, or Great Britain.
Not for nothing has Schäuble been called ‘ethereal’ and ‘will o’ the wisp’ in his style. He would in fact be Martin Bormann to Merkel’s Fuhrerin, were it not for that uncontrollably irascible Prussian nature that compels him to be rude about everyone who isn’t German. Were he to get the job earmarked for him by Merkel as Obersturmbannfuhrer Eurodosh, everyone in Europe – especially the Brits – would have to watch their backs and count their fingers.
But tonight, what we should mainly be counting is our blessings. Without the German press and the Bundesrepublik’s constitutional balances, we would all be heading unstoppably for Onkel Wolfie’s Fiskal Korrection Lager. As it is, we now have a chance for events to wreak their damage to the mad plans of the few German thinkers who don’t see the dangers of their unthinking arrogance.