Protesters have taken to the streets in 14 German cities to show their anger with their government’s handling of the Greek crisis, as opposition to the bailout deal appeared to be growing within Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) party.
Anti-austerity demonstrations by a vocal minority of Germans took place in cities including Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, with the radical left in the EU’s economic powerhouse proclaiming its solidarity with those across the world who are furious with Berlin for its role in forming Monday’s agreement.
“It’s a protest against the undemocratic politics of Europe,” said Marek Polgesek, a 25-year-old student from western Germany. “Germany isn’t solely responsible, but it has an exceptional history, bringing great responsibility, which the government is not living up to.”
In Berlin, several hundred protesters gathered on Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg waving Greek flags and banners stating simply “Oxi” (no in Greek) or #thisisacoup. Wassilia Fotiadou held a home-made sign pleading for “no more crimes out of Germany.”
“I’m furious with these criminals,” said Fotiadou, 56, a Greek teacher who has lived in Germany all her life. “I don’t want my taxes supporting this criminal coup.”
Sabine Feuer, 23, a student, said: “We have the responsibility here in Germany to do something to protest against this government. This is just the beginning.”
The protesters plan to rally on Friday outside the Bundestag and everyWednesday at the finance ministry.
Aaron Bruckmiller, spokesman for the Frankfurt branch of the demonstrations’ organisers, Blockupy, said: “We’re out to show solidarity with the brave Greek ‘no/oxi’ voters. To protest with fire in our bellies against the German government’s coup. We stand for the revival of hope for a dignified future for the people of Greece.”
In what was one of the worst weeks in recent history for Germany’s image abroad, editorials from Paris to Rome attacked the German government as authoritarian and egotistical, and accused it of trampling over Greek sovereignty.
Outraged Twitter users from all over the world posted pictures of the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, emblazoned with swastikas and images from the Nazi occupation of Greece under the hashtag #Thisisacoup. Others demanded a boycott of German goods.
“We’d never call the German finance minister a Nazi,” said Marlies Sommer, a spokeswoman for TOP Berlin, an anti-capitalist group. “But given the total domination the German government is trying to impose on Greece, the analogies are somewhat striking.”
A growing number of Germans are speaking out about the ultimatum to Greece. Opposition to the deal is building across the political spectrum, with not just the far left but a swelling camp of rebels within her own party lining up to oppose Merkel’s current course – albeit for different reasons.
Writing in the Bild newspaper on Wednesday, several politicians of the conservative CDU said they would vote against the latest bailout negotiations when the proposal is put to parliament at the end of the week. An unnamed source within the CDU was quoted as saying there were at least 50 potential rebels, a figure the Guardian could not confirm.
Some MPs said they had lost sympathy for Greece. “I voted for the first two bailouts, because I still had hope that Greece would recover,” wrote Erika Steinbach, a CDU MP. “But this time I’m saying no. I can’t believe that Greece will implement the agreed reforms.”
“I’ll definitely be voting against further help for Greece so that [Yanis] Varoufakis isn’t proven right in the end,” the CDU’s Klaus-Peter Willsch wrote of the former Greek finance minister. “German MPs are not puppets who have to raise their hands when the puppet master wants them to.”
Merkel has said she will only recall MPs from their summer recess to vote on negotiating a third bailout if the Greek parliament passes the deal on Wednesday night. If the deal holds until Friday, it will be the sixth time the German parliament has voted on loans for Greece since 2010.
But even Schäuble has cast doubt on German commitment to the Greek deal by saying that he still believed in his temporary Grexit plan and claimed he had the support of many in the German government.
“There are a lot of people, also in the German government, who are fairly convinced that in the interests of Greece and the Greek people the [Grexit plan] would be the better option,” the embattled minister told journalists after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.
It was a comment that prompted Merkel’s Social Democrat (SPD) partners in the grand coalition to demand she rein him in. “[Merkel] has to deal with her finance minister,” the party’s vice-chairman Ralf Stegner told Der Spiegel. “The deal agreed at the weekend ultimately applies to the whole government.”
And the chancellor still enjoys the backing of most Germans. A poll by ARD-Deutschlandtrend after Monday’s deal gave Merkel the support of 62% of voters.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010