Merkel's Disappearing Majority
The economist rebellion is telling. As long as Berlin was partnered with Paris in its efforts to introduce reforms to save the euro, Merkel could count on broad backing at home. Now that she appears to be losing ground to the uprising led by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and French President François Hollande, concerns about Germany's ability to save the euro on its own -- voiced repeatedly by Merkel herself recently -- are rising.
Germany's center-left opposition, in particular, is demonstrating an increasing unwillingness to support Merkel's strategy for plugging the euro-zone dike. That combined with significant numbers of rebels within her own government coalition, which pairs her conservatives with the business-friendly Free Democrats, could spell danger to the chancellor in the near future.
The parliamentary vote last Friday provided a clear look at the rough road ahead. While Merkel received the two-thirds majority she was looking for in the vote to approve the ESM, fully 26 coalition lawmakers -- 16 conservatives and 10 from the FDP -- voted no. It is a clear indication that Merkel is losing control over her own parliamentary majority -- so much so that many political observers in Berlin have begun speaking of a coalition crisis. Indeed, given the growing rebellion, her reliable parliamentary majority is on the verge of disappearing altogether.
What's more, the opposition is also becoming restless and has vowed this week to no longer provide its unconditional support to the chancellor's euro-zone moves. Within the center-left Social Democrats, there is concern about the plan to provide Spanish banks with direct aid from the euro bailout funds.
"Merkel will not be able to rely on the permanent agreement of the SPD, and certainly not when it comes to this half-baked idea" of aiding Spanish banks, Social Democrat budgetary expert Carsten Schneider told Spiegel Online. "She'll have to pass things with her own majority."
The Chancellor's Biggest Headache
The mood in the Green Party is similar. A source within the party's parliamentary group told Spiegel Online that, if Merkel can no longer rely on her own majority, then she will "have to submit to a vote of confidence." The source added that pressure is growing within the party to cease supporting Merkel's euro-zone course.
Perhaps the chancellor's biggest headache, however, comes from her conservative allies in Bavaria. Horst Seehofer, governor of Bavaria and head of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), warned in an interview earlier this week with the news magazine Stern that "at some point we will reach a point where the Bavarian state government and the CSU will no longer be able to say yes." He added: "And without the votes of the CSU, the coalition no longer has a majority."
Seehofer, of course, is famous for crying wolf, and his periodic eruptions are not always taken seriously in Berlin, nor should they be. Still, his concerns about offering up more German money to save the euro are real and he has been consistent in voicing them in recent months. If he were to turn his back on Merkel, it would likely mark the end of her government.
Merkel's next test could be coming soon. At the end of July, a special session of parliament will likely be called to vote on aid for Spanish banks. The chancellor won't require a two-thirds majority as she did last Friday. But all eyes will be on the behavior of coalition lawmakers. Should the rebellion show signs of persistence or growth, a confidence vote might not be long in coming.
Intellpuke: You can read this Spiegel article in context here: www.spiegel.de/international/germany/euro-crisis-exposing-fault-lines-in-merkel-government-a-842739.html