Recent comment in the international press regarding the new German grand coalition of christian and social democrats has been hopeful with respect to a change in European policy. EL PAIS reported yesterday under the headline ‘Stability (and change)’:
El giro social que supone la nueva coalición supone un cambio efectivo, aunque no radical en el sentido de un vuelco a todas las políticas de la anterior alianza democristiana-liberal.
Apart from the wording that I find strange – ‘supone’ used twice in a row, which translates as ‘suppose’ – the author seems to think that there will be some effective though not radical change in comparison to the christian democrat/liberal coalition before. The author does not seem to realize that the austerity measures have been supported by the social democrats in parliament. Jörg Asmussen, the ECB director that moves into the ministry of labour and social affairs, and is one of those German social democrats. Why should they oppose austerity it now?
What is hardly visible from the outside is that the mainstream media is not fulfilling its role as an independent watchdog. On Sunday I watched the news on the second channel (ZDF, which is public) and could not believe what I heard. In the segment on the Irish return to austerity, it was said that:
EU und IWF mussten dem Land mit insgesamt 67.5 Milliarden Euro unter die Arme greifen.
So, EU and IMF had to help the land [Irland] with €67.5 billion. That sounds like a fiscal transfer, because the German phrase ‘unter die Arme greifen’ means to give somebody a hand. The implication is that this is not a loan, but a transfer. This reading of the situation is not correct, and the number appeared in the newspaper DIE WELT (among others) in the context of loans. Nevertheless, the way the media has been and still is reporting the euro crisis is bordering on the grotesque.
Sorry to be pessimistic here, but from the inside it looks like Germany is enjoying itself tremendously and doesn’t want to be bothered by those lazy neighbor countries that lived on German welfare and now that it has been taking away can’t stop whining. This is how its sold from the German mass media. Expect no changes. Schäuble is still minister of finance, and the social democrats have been desperate to return to government. I don’t see them risking anything for Europe.