Since the 24 September German general elections and the subsequent inability to form a government, the Greek political and financial establishments have been closely eyeing developments.
The focus of concerns was the prospect that Christian Lindner’s Free Democratic Party, if it joins a ruling coalition, may impact negatively on both the completion of Greece’s current bailout programme and on efforts to seal a debt reprofiling.
“Germany’s next government will be tougher on granting fiscal leeway to Greece, France and other euro-area countries if it includes the Free Democrats, a traditional ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, their chairman said,” was how Bloomberg depicted the FDP three weeks before the elections.
Lindner has in the past supported a Greek debt write-down combined with Grexit.
Now, the prospect that SDP (Social Democratic Party) leader Martin Schulz, facing extreme pressure from the German president and members of his own party, may reverse himself, and finally enter a Grand Coalition with Merkel, is cause for a ray of optimism in Athens as well.
“The SPD is convinced that we must negotiate. The SPD cannot be excluded from the process,” said SPD general secretary Hubertus Heil, after an intense, eight-hour meeting of party officials yesterday.
Heiko Maas, a leading SPD figure and the current justice minister, was a bit more caustic in reacting to Schulz’s splendid isolation. “The SPD cannot behave as a sullen child in its corner,” he said last night.
Other party members came out in favour of the SPD supporting a minority government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, something she has steadfastly refused so far.