Friday

3rd Feb 2023

Interview

Adenauer grandson challenges Merkel on euro-policy

Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union is gathering this week (4-6 December) in Hannover for a party congress, but the descendent of CDU founder Konrad Adenauer will not be among them.

Stephan Werhahn, Adenauer's 59 year-old grandson, has broken his life-long membership of the CDU in March and is now a leading candidate for the "Free Voters" - a conservative, euro-critical party so far represented only in the regional parliament of Bavaria and in municipal councils across the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Stephan Werhahn during a rally against the eurozone bailout fund (Photo: Lars Haise)

Speaking to EUobserver from Munich, Werhahn said that the reason for leaving the CDU was Merkel's "no-alternative policy" of keeping countries inside the eurozone at any cost.

The trained lawyer and investment consultant said he was angered in 2010 when Merkel decided to bail out Greece even though it was, to his mind, "going against the EU treaty which has no-bailout clause."

"As a CDU man and Adenauer's grandson I had serious concerns that this cannot go on like this, that Europe will fail if the euro is forced upon these countries instead of letting them go and devalue their currency," Werhahn said.

He said he was essentially forced to take his fight outside the CDU.

"Merkel is levelling everyone like a steamroller. Anyone who presents opposition is personally attacked, some become sick."

"This is not the tradition of my grandfather. The CDU was founded by my grandfather because the centrist parties were unable to govern. The same is happening now with the CDU, it has become a bureaucratic machine and the Free Voters will challenge that."

Werhahn says his new party will seek to attract CDU voters who no longer feel represented by their party.

"CDU strategists are trying to spin Europe as a positive idea that needs to be saved. But the reality is different, Greeks are out in the streets, Germans don't like this policy either."

"People may still like Merkel, she's hard working, she's quite friendly and nice, but they don't see very clearly that she's taking more and more risks. Private companies have to disclose their risks and liabilities, but the German government fails do do so, it is keeping the truth from its citizens," he said.

Last week, the German government admitted that the adjustments to the Greek bailout programme will actually take a toll on the national budget - even though in a small amount - €730 million for next year and some €2.7 billion over the next decades.

"Seventy five percent of Germans are against the bailout policy, that is why Merkel doesn't want debt restructuring . But clearly taxpayer money is at stake. Once Germans will notice they will not have money for investments, for kindergartens, then all hell will break loose," Werhahn predicts.

A critic of the euro-crisis summitry, Werhahn deplores the lack of "sound commercial thinking" underpinning the euro system. "The euro is not some romantic idea, it is a currency that needs to be fixed."

With less than a year to go until general elections in Germany, the Free Voters are working on their slogans along the lines of "Yes to Europe, but No to the euro system as practised today." Instead, they want a parallel, stronger eurozone which would stick to all the rules countries including Germany have broken in the past "and let the others keep the old one."

Germans trust big parties

The political establishment in the CDU and its Bavarian sister party - the Christian Social Union (CSU) - does not see the Free Voters as a serious challenge.

"It's true that people have an uneasy feeling, but they feel very well represented by the Chancellor. We are benefiting in the polls as CDU/CSU union because people appreciate Merkel's euro-policy," Markus Ferber, a member of the CSU and euro-deputy told this website.

"Free Voters are not a party yet, they tried in Bavaria but now they are rowing backwards. Let's see next year if they will be a political power able to pool euro-critical voices," he said.

The CSU itself has prominent politicians who share many of Werhahn's views and publicly advocate a Greek euro-exit or challenge the establishment of eurozone bailout funds with taxpayer money. But, as Ferber points out, all the court challenges have so far proved unsuccessful.

Political scientist Gero Neugebauer from Berlin's Free University is also sceptical of the success Free Voters could have in next year's elections.

"They have no experience and even though people may feel betrayed by the CDU, particularly if the crisis worsens, this will not lead to a 'new hope' type of vote in their favour."

New anti-euro party forms in Germany

A new party in favour of returning to the Deutsche Mark is taking shape in Germany. But most Germans still want to keep the euro.

Merkel hints at future 'haircut' on Greek debt

German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated Sunday that governments may have to take a loss on the Greek debt they own, breaking what was considered a taboo in German politics.

EU lobby register still riddled with errors

The EU's lobby register remains riddled with errors, with pro-transparency campaigners demanding better data and mandatory rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of Qatargate.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us