Angela Merkel har bygget seg opp som Tysklands og Europas dronning. Men det er en posisjon bygget på mangel på presisjon og unnvikende holdning i viktige spørsmål. Ingen vet riktig hvor hun står: Er det regnemesteren som krever balanserte budsjetter som taler eller er det «Europa-stemmen» der både fordypning og enhet teller? Uttalelsene og rollene spriker.
Der Spiegel har en overraskende kritisk analyse av Merkel der hun kalles Trümmerfrau, ruinfruen. På engelsk blir det: Angela’s Ashes. How Merkel failed Greece and Europe. Den er skrevet av Peter Müller og René Pfister og er en lead article.
The euro crisis opened up a new dimension of power for Merkel. Since 2010, there has been an endless series of crisis summits in Brussels and the German chancellor was always the center of attention. She was the one sitting on the biggest war chest, a fact which granted her far-reaching influence. And Merkel enjoyed her role as the queen of Europe. She didn’t lord it over the others: She wasn’t as loud as Gerhard Schröder and wasn’t as forceful as Helmut Kohl.
Instead, she did what no German chancellor had ever done before. She followed a policy of pedagogical imperialism, with the lesson plan calling for budgetary discipline, labor market reform and privatization. It worked in Spain, Portugal and Ireland, but in Greece, the conditions imposed by creditors were not seen as necessary medicine but as a poison that was destroying society.
Merkel saw what was happening, but she didn’t have the courage to face the consequences. And there were alternatives. She could have offered Greece a safe and supported path out of the euro zone. That is the course of action that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has supported internally for years. She could also have offered Greece a debt haircut. Had she done so at the right moment, she could at least have prevented the radicalization of Greek politics.
None of these options would have been free of risk. They would have required courage and money, and they would have opened up Merkel to attack. And that is something she didn’t want.
So she hid behind the troika, behind the hated technocrats, thereby accelerating the rise of Syriza. Indeed, Tsipras is, to a certain extent, a product of Merkel’s vacillating leadership style. In the Chancellery, people are expressing relief that Tsipras was unable to drive Europe apart and that nobody is blaming Germany for the current impasse. That may be true, but it is also a rather simplistic view. Success for Merkel is when nobody is pointing their finger at her.
Merkel snakker som Helmuth Kohl: Svarene på alle problemer er «Europa», dvs et tettere integrert Europa. Men når hun får presentert konkrete forslag fra Jean-Claude Juncker, svarer hun kort og avvisende. Merkels Europa er et nasjonenes Europa. Men burde hun ikke da ha vist større forståelse for Cameron og Storbritannia?
Merkel risikerer å falle brått og dypt fra den enestående posisjonen hun har hatt inntil nå.