Saturday

15th Dec 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Anti-semitism 'disturbingly normalised' in Europe

Almost 40 percent of European Jews contemplate leaving their home country because they no longer feel safe, and almost 85 percent say their number one concern in Europe is anti-semitism and racism, according to a new EU survey.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us