With Friends Like These

schauble-tsipras Reuters AP [M]
Sabertooth or toothless tiger?
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The third bailout for Greece faces a series of major obstacles that could still plunge the country into political turmoil, including today’s Greek parliament vote and a possible court challenge in Germany.

  • Facts


    • The German government may face a constitutional court challenge to the third bailout package.
    • Greece’s parliament will vote later today on whether to accept the terms of the third bailout package agreed by euro zone leaders on Monday.
    • Germany’s finance minister has defended a proposal floated over the weekend for Greece to temporarily leave the euro zone.
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Mention the name Wolfgang Schäuble in Greece, or the name Alexis Tsipras in Germany, and you’re likely to get an earful.

Mr. Schäuble, the conservative German finance minister has long been seen as the bogeyman in Greece for his hard-line stance in talks over a third financial bailout – all the more so since it emerged that he put the idea of “Grexit” on paper during an emergency summit over the weekend.

In Germany, it is the leftist Greek prime minister Mr. Tsipras who is viewed as the key culprit, an untrustworthy leader incapable of reforming the country’s struggling economy and unworthy of more money from German taxpayers.

No doubt both politicians feel the criticism is unjustified. To keep Greece in the euro, both men have had to swallow their own words. And both could also face revolts from more radical lawmakers that could succeed in breaking the fragile truce agreed on Monday.

This week, Mr. Schäuble was forced to defend the German government’s proposal of a five-year temporary Greek exit from the euro zone, which was rejected at Sunday’s summit of euro zone leaders and triggered a barrage of criticism abroad as well as domestically, even among members of the center-left Social Democrats, junior coalition partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

Mr. Schäuble complains that he has been singled out for something that wasn’t just his idea. The finance minister said he “didn’t make a proposal that wasn’t agreed within the government in form and content. That is why it makes little sense to use it afterwards for personal defamation.”

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