What was said in the German parliament about Grexit

Judith Meyer, German who speaks Greek

Most Viewed [Quora] Writer in Grexit Crisis (June-July 2015)
Well, today was the parliamentary debate & vote on the 3rd Greek Bailout, an excellent chance to hear what each party has to say about this deal. I have collected a lot of MPs’ statements and turned them into a coherent whole for each party, so 5 different stances. This will give an overview of how different parts of German society think about the bailout.

Note that the following does not represent my personal opinion and I tried to use as few of my own words as possible.

Bundestag during this debate

Christian Democrats CDU/CSU (Merkel’s party)

Greece was on a good path until the end of 2014, growing faster than most EU states. SYRIZA is at fault for ruining this. It was necessary for the Eurogroup to show Tsipras that there was no way of realizing his campaign promises while staying in the Euro. The referendum and his government’s rhetorics really made us doubt whether it would be possible to find an agreement. However, Tsipras decided on a new beginning and we applaud him for that, especially for getting rid of Varoufakis. In the end, we don’t care who governs Greece, as long as they implement what has been agreed.

By the way, it is outrageous that Schäuble was getting defamed in Europe merely for suggesting Grexit. It is clear that there is discontent among Greeks. The longer a people has to endure adjustments, the more difficult it is. In the end, it’s their own decision if they want to do it or if they prefer a future outside the Euro.

Greece needs to change from an import-oriented to an export-oriented economy and implement many Neo-Liberal policies in order to become competitive. Some may criticize that so much aid money is dedicated to the banks, but you have to see that the banks is where poor people have their savings. We cannot let the banks fail without bringing a catastrophe upon the average Greek. Greek pensions are a huge spectrum, ranging from the poor to the very generous, chiefly for friends of the governing party. We need to freeze the generous civil servants pensions. We also need to cut Greece’s military spending.

The participation of the IMF is absolutely necessary. They will decide in October, but the conditions of this bailout are already 100% agreed with IMF. The IMF will require two additional measures, one of which is debt relief. As Greek debt is sustainable until 2030, when measured in yearly debt service requirements, we will have to discuss this with them. In any case, we are ready to offer loan extensions, lower interest rates, and possibly grace periods, but a haircut is out of the question.

It is not an easy decision to vote for yet another bailout, but let’s help Greece this one more time and try to lead them onto a better path. Greece is not a bottomless pit. We’ll need a long-term approach, but eventually we’ll see the bottom.

(Do note that many CDU members, and indeed many Germans, do not agree with the conclusion, they are more pessimistic than this text lets on and would have preferred to vote against the bailout. Only 63 of them did finally vote against it, while 3 abstained and 17 were conveniently on vacation at the time of voting. Those who voted against the bailout had a stance like the following:)

Rebel Christian Democrats

We are only throwing good money after the bad. Even Greek minister Pappas, a close friend of Tsipras, has admitted that Greece will need a constant flow of funds and a debt restructure. As soon as the EU monies come, Tsipras will lose a vote of confidence, have election campaigns, and we will see a resurgence of ugly populism. Then, no new reforms will pass until at least December.

We are also concerned about this new definition of debt sustainability, which looks at yearly debt service requirements rather than overall debt. It is very dangerous. We can forever reschedule the repayment into the future, but it will be nothing other than a haircut, eventually our grandkids will pay for this.

Having run with the head against the wall twice, Germany should now look for a door. The door is called Grexit.

Social Democrats SPD (Merkel’s coalition partner)

This aid program is a different quality than previous ones. It includes not just austerity but a reform of society and greater aid for the people. The SPD fought for this. Living in Greece is too expensive for the average Greek, so it is good that this program will liberalize some markets, increase competition and make e. g. energy, medicine and groceries more affordable. We had some misgivings about the results of the July 12 Eurogroup, which were very harsh on Greece, but this treaty is much better.

Note that this treaty is not supposed to be an investment program, it is just to help Greece access capital markets again.

We are in favour of debt relief, but it should only come after the review in autumn. This is beneficial for the Greek population as well, because it ensures that reforms will be implemented and not just promised.

We do not like the new Greek government – thank God that Varoufakis had to go – but we must ensure that they are successful, because they are the only ones that can reform Greece at this point. Tsipras will need all the support he can get for this difficult task.

It is clear that this task may not be over in 3 years. Changing an entire society takes time. We are ready to support the Greek government for as long as it takes, even 5 or 10 years, as long as they make a good faith effort to continue on the path of reforms.

After solving the Greek crisis, we should also reform Europe towards a closer union. Nation-states have too much fiscal and economic autonomy, leading e. g. to huge discrepancies in how much they tax corporations and wealthy people, which undermines the currency union.

Greens

Merkel and Schäuble’s negotiations stance damaged Germany’s standing in Europe. Moreover, Merkel is using cheap stereotyping instead of explaining to Germans why Greece and Europe deserve our support – bah!

It is understandable that after 5 years of crisis, Germans want to solve this problem once and for all. However, Grexit is not such a quick solution. Greece would turn into a failed state and we would still have to deal with it. Germany trying to mob Greece out of the Eurozone was a despicable action, which thankfully failed due to France and Italy. Really, Germany got debt relief in 1953 despite WWII and the Holocaust, its former enemies including Greece (!) forgave a large share of German debt, therefore we mustn’t do less than they did.

We do not approve of this bailout. Specifically, we criticize that it includes pro-cyclic recessionary measures and lacks a haircut, which Greece really needs. Moreover, the entire treaty is full of wishful thinking. However, we will vote for it because the alternative would be Grexit. We hope to amend this treaty in the future in order to prevent the loss of jobs, which it almost certainly entails.

Soon we will need to address the question of democratic legitimization in Europe.

The Left

We express our solidarity with SYRIZA and Tsipras. However, we condemn this bailout and will not vote for it, as it hits the poor and there are no monies for investments in it. True solidarity would be

  • a haircut on Greek debt
  • investments in the Greek economy that are paid for by the profits Germany made off this crisis (supposedly € 100 billion)
  • respect for the Greek democratic institutions, i. e. no enforced loss of sovereignty
  • adequate time to discuss and pass the reforms – Germany could never withstand the breakneck speed that is demanded of Greece currently


Also, it is suspicious that Greece’s most profitable airports were sold to Fraport (German state-owned company) for an unrealistically low price.

The German government, in designing and signing bailout 1 and 2, is responsible for Greece’s present ruin and the greatly increased child mortality there – shame! If a medicine has been shown not to work, it doesn’t make sense to prescribe 5 times as much.


All of these statements are not mine, they represent the German political parties and were uttered – if not literally then close enough – during the Bundestag debate. I live-tweeted the debate through my account @AskAGerman and used this to jog my memory in writing this, so if you want to know which MP said what, check @AskAGerman‘s timeline.

 

2 comments

  1. Several issues:
    As mentioned, Greece voted to forgive Germany its debt after WWII despite the horrific German occupation that starved and killed 300K plus Greeks. Not to mention that Germany brought it upon itself for the war and holocaust.
    Germany forced the Bank of Greece to give Germany a loan to pay for its own occupation. Germany should pay this loan
    Germany loaned Greece to buy military equipment from them. The Simons et al companies sold defective goods, engaged in bribery and will not extradite those Germans involved
    Germany put out a Welcoming mat to the refugees causing Greece to be stuck with all these migrants. Germany should pay for this problem and send resources to man EU’s south eastern borders
    For Greece to decrease its military spending, NATO, including Germany, should address the Turkish daily aggression into Greek territory. Instead of giving billions to Turkey, they should sanction Turkey

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