Gabriel’s Gamble

Social Democrats Get Tough on Greece

Sigmar Gabriel against red AP
He is not amused.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    With growing opposition in Ms. Merkel’s CDU to a third bailout, she would need the backing of the SPD to get it passed.

  • Facts


    • The SPD is the junior partner in the governing right-left coalition in Berlin.
    • SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, deputy chancellor and economy minister, has taken a tough stance on Greece in recent weeks.
    • The SPD party will likely back a third bailout for Greece in a Bundestag vote.
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Since the Greek crisis began over five years ago, the Social Democrats have tried to present themselves as Germany’s good cops – whether in opposition or in government.

Whilst calling for Greece to implement reforms and comply with its bailout terms, the center-left SPD has also tried to show some solidarity with the Greeks. It has been critical of the narrow focus on austerity over the past five years, arguing that a parallel growth strategy was required.

However, party leader Sigmar Gabriel now seems to be ditching that policy, taking an increasing harsh tone with the radical left Greek government in recent weeks.

The deputy chancellor, who also serves as economy and energy minister in Angela Merkel’s left-right coalition government, was one of the most vehement critics of the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, after Greeks overwhelmingly voted “no” in Sunday’s referendum on whether to accept its lenders’ bailout conditions.

Mr. Gabriel, a political bruiser known for not pulling punches, said on Sunday night that Mr. Tsipras had “torn down the last bridges” and that there was “hardly any chance left for a compromise” to be made between Brussels and Athens.

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