Nobody Is Happy in Germany, League Calls for Italian Euro Exit

Angela Merkel is criticized. Matteo Salvini ramps up his anti-euro rhetoric.

German parliament Berlin
Reichstag in Berlin, Germany (Unsplash/Fionn Große)

Nobody in Germany is happy with the deal Angela Merkel struck with the Social Democrats this week.

Politico reports that conservatives are upset she gave the Finance Ministry to the left. The party’s youth wing is openly calling for Merkel’s replacement.

The Financial Times reports that Martin Schulz is testing his Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) unity by joining the new government as foreign minister.

Tilman Pradt argued here the other day that Schulz has wasted away his credibility by reneging on his promise never to serve under Merkel. “Given the fate of its sister parties in Europe,” Pradt wrote, “the SPD should have been aware of the dangers of putting personal ambitions over party politics.”

Also read:

  • My first contribution to the New Atlanticist blog of the Atlantic Council, in which I argue Germany is muddling through.
  • Katrin Bennhold in The New York Times: “The new deal with the same old coalition partners is precisely the government that Germans had voted against.”
  • Josef Joffe in Politico: “The biggest losers have ended up as the German government’s de facto leaders.”

Hope for British nationals in the EU

A Dutch judge has referred to the European Court of Justice a case of five Britons who argue they should be allowed to retain their rights as EU citizens even when the United Kingdom leaves the bloc in 2019.

Few expect the court to agree, but it forces the issue: Which comes first, your national citizenship or your citizenship of the EU?

1.8 million British expats live and work in other countries of the European Union.

Salvini rediscovers his Euroskepticism

Not so long ago, Italy’s Northern League was on track to become the largest party on the right, giving Matteo Salvini a real chance of becoming prime minister. Now Silvio Berlusconi is back. His Forza Italia is polling at 16-18 percent support against 12-14 percent for the League.

Desperate to distinguish himself from the older man, Salvini is ramping up his anti-euro rhetoric. “It’s clear to everyone that the euro is a mistake for our economy,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We don’t have a euro in our pockets. We have a German mark which they called the euro.”

Berlusconi has also been critical of German-imposed austerity, but he doesn’t go so far as to call for giving up the single currency.

Salvini’s ally in France, Marine Le Pen, deemphasized her Euroskepticism ahead of an election last year. But Italians, especially younger ones, are more jaded than the French. If a referendum on EU membership were held, one in two Italians under the age of 45 say they would vote against it.

No leading lights among the Five Stars

Bill Emmott, the former editor of The Economist and a longtime Berlusconi critic, laments in the Financial Times that the Five Star Movement — polling in first place for the election in March — hasn’t put forward a cohesive team that looks like a credible government in waiting.

He doesn’t blame the movement’s prime ministerial candidate, although Luigi Di Maio plainly lacks “experience, expertise and savoir faire.” The fault lies with founder Beppe Grillo, who insisted on running the party “through a fake online democracy with candidates chosen by handfuls of voters.”