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From a commentary by Daniel Bax, editor of alternative-left (Greens-close) daily die tageszeitung (short taz):

Die Aussagen der Kanzlerin könnten antideutsche Reflexe auslösen: Die Mär von den faulen Südländern - taz.de The statements of the Chancellor could trigger anti-German reflexes: The myth of the lazy Southerners - taz.de
Gehen die Portugiesen zu früh in Rente? Dauern die Ferien der Spanier zu lange? Und versaufen die Griechen unserer Oma ihr klein Häuschen? Nein, das sind alles haltlose Klischees. Warum aber wärmt die deutsche Kanzlerin, die es besser wissen muss, sie dann auf? Und warum jetzt? Do the Portuguese go in retirement too early? Do the vacations of the Spaniards take too long? And do the Greeks drink away the little house of our our grandmother? No, these are all untenable clichés. But why does the German Chancellor, who should know better, warm these up again? And why now?
......
Doch statt ihren Wählern und Steuerzahlern endlich reinen Wein darüber einzuschenken, dass solche Finanzhilfen kein generöses Geschenk an faule Versager, sondern im wohlverstandenen deutschen Eigeninteresse sind, setzt sie lieber auf populistische Rhetorik.But instead of finally coming clean in front of their voters and taxpayers about the fact that such financial help is not a generous gift to lazy losers but in line with the well understood German self-interest, she rather relies on populist rhetoric.
Kollateralschäden am europäischen Projekt nimmt sie dabei in Kauf. Denn solche Sprüche sind gefährlich. Schon jetzt ist das Sparprogramm, das etwa die griechische Regierung ihren Bürgern aufbürdet, brutal. Merkels Bemerkungen eignen sich da nur zu gut, um von Griechenland bis Portugal antideutsche Gefühle anzufachen.In doing so, she accepts collateral damage in the European project. For, such talk is dangerous. The savings plan imposed for example by the Greek government on its citizens is already brutal. Merkel's comments are just too good to fan anti-German feelings from Greece to Portugal.
Auf der anderen Seite zeigt die Erfahrung, dass es nur Rechtspopulisten nützt, wenn man ihre Parolen aufgreift. Bislang ist es Merkels Union gelungen, keinen Raum für eine Partei rechts von ihr zu lassen. Und man darf vermuten, dass ihre platten Sprüche über angebliche südländische Arbeitsscheu vor allem dazu dienen sollen, rechte und euroskeptische Wähler an die Union zu binden. Die nächsten Wahlen in Bremen und in Berlin werden zeigen, ob dieses Kalkül aufgeht - oder ob nicht vielmehr rechtspopulistische Splitterparteien davon profitieren.On the other hand, experience shows that it is of benefit to right-wing populists only if you take their slogans on. Merkel's CDU/CSU has so far succeeded in leaving no room for a party to the right of it. And one may suspect that her platitudes about alleged Southerner work-shyness were to primarily serve the goal to bind right-wing and Eurosceptic voters to the CDU/CSU. The next elections in Bremen and Berlin will show whether this calculation adds up - or if, much rather, it will be right-populist splinter parties who'll profit from them.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 10:11:25 AM EST
On the same subject, the main centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeizung (short SZ) doesn't mention the suffering of the people, but dissects the lies:

Merkel: Kritik an verschuldeten Euroländern - Ausflug ins Populistische - Geld - sueddeutsche.de Merkel: Criticism of indebted Euro countries - Excursion into populism - Money - sueddeutsche.de
...Merkels Anregungen haben ein Problem: Sie sind arg populistisch. Gesetzlich festgelegt sind in Deutschland mindestens 20 Tage Urlaub - weniger gibt es in der Europäischen Union nirgendwo. Allerdings stehen vertraglich den meisten Beschäftigten 25 bis 30 Urlaubstage zu, wie Umfragen zeigen....Merkel's comments have one problem: they are terribly populistic. In Germany, laws prescribe at least 20 days vacation - nowhere in the fEuropean Union is it lower. However, for most employees, 25-30 vacation days are contractually guaranteed, as shown by polls.
Mit ihren Aussagen lässt Merkel allerdings die Interpretation zu, dass es in den kriselnden Euro-Ländern erheblich mehr Urlaub gebe, und das trifft so nicht zu. In Griechenland sind gesetzlich 25 Tage vorgeschrieben, in Portugal und Spanien jeweils 22 und in Irland 20 - so viele wie in Deutschland. Andererseits sind es ausgerechnet so vielgelobte Volkswirtschaften wie Finnland oder solche EU-Kernländer wie Frankreich, wo der Gesetzgeber die größte Zahl an Urlaubstagen ermöglicht (jeweils 30).Merkel's statements, however, allow for the interpretation that there is considerably vacation in the ailing Euro countries, and that is not so. In Greece, 25 days are legally required, 22 in both Portugal and Spain, and 20 in Ireland - as many as in Germany. On the other hand, it is just highly lauded economies such like Finland or core EU countries such as France where the legislature allows for the highest number of vacation days (both 30).
...Auch beim Renteneintrittsalter schwingt bei Merkel eine Propagandahaltung mit, die man schon für überholt glaubte. Der Satz "Bisher betrug das Renteneintrittsalter 65 Jahre, doch im Zuge einer langen Diskussion ist es kürzlich auf 67 angehoben worden" trifft auf Deutschland zu - aber auch auf das von Merkel kritisierte Spanien.... On the issue of retirement age, too, there is a propaganda undercurrent in Merkel's talk which one would have believed to have become outdated. The sentence "In the past the retirement age was 65 years, but in the course of a long discussion it has been recently raised to 67" is true for Germany - but also for Merkel-criticised Spain.
In Portugal liegt es bei 65, in Griechenland neuerdings ebenso. In Athen laufen gerade im Zuge des Sparpaktes die Bemühungen, nicht nur das gesetzliche, sondern auch das tatsächliche Renteneintrittsalter anzuheben: von derzeit 61,3 auf 63,5, was in etwa den deutschen Zahlen entspricht. Und in Irland, das vor einigen Wochen unter den Rettungsschirm schlüpfte, wurde das Renteneintrittsalter sogar auf 68 angehoben.It is 65 in Portugal, lately in Greece as well. In Athens, just now in the wake of the savings pact, efforts are on-going to raise not only to raise legal but also the actual retirement age: from the current 61.3 to 63.5, which is similar to the German figure. And in Ireland, which slipped under the rescue umbrella a few weeks ago, the retirement age was increased even to 68.

SZ also quotes the Spanish government reaction. As for why Merkel went right-populist, SZ thinks it is because of the threat to government majority in parliament by rebels who'd vote against another rescue package for Greece (as quoted in an earlier thread, SZ knows about 14 FDP and 5 CDU/CSU potential rebels, only two more would force Merkel into damaging her authority by relying on SPD and Green votes; SZ also quotes again an FDP guy still fuming about the FDP-pursued tax cuts), but doubts that such talk will convince the rebels.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 10:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As for why Merkel went right-populist, SZ thinks it is because of the threat to government majority in parliament by rebels who'd vote against another rescue package for Greece

How does it make sense, then, for Merkel to propagate xenophobic clichés against the supposed recipients of the "rescue"? That's just likely to strengthen the resolve of the rebels within the CDU/FDP majority as they can now expect the public to support them.

Unless Merkel is framing it as "we want to force those lazies to reform and the only way to do it is with the carrot of a rescue". Is she?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 05:14:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paraphrased, Merkel didn't say 'Southerners are lazy', she said 'Southerners, stop being lazy if you want our tax money'. So no carrot there, this is the pretence of a stick (a rhetorical stick in the imaginary right-wing framing of the situation, unrelated to the actual stick). Whether this will work on the rebels, in particular on the more numerous FDP rebels (who still believe only tax cuts will boost their poll numbers and feel existential angst even more after their party dropped from yet another regional parliament), is questionable. Merkel is likely to achieve more with standard fall-in-line-or-else appeals to conservative submission to authority. Which again underlines the fact that Merkel will risk sowing the seeds of hatred in millions and make big strategic and policy sacrifices for the most insignificant of political position power gains.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 10:31:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should add: in the meantime, Merkel upped the ante. Her spokesman reacted to opposition criticism by insisting that what she said wasn't campaign rhetoric but a serious proposal (at a local party event?...). And also declared that 'Everyone in Europe has to put in effort to remain globally competitive, Germans too' – so 'reforms' will continue domestically, too?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 11:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I continue the review of the German media reaction going further right, to SPIEGEL. First from an op-ed by Jakob Augstein (the adopted son of the magazine's onetime founder), who is decidedly to the left of SPIEGEL editors:

S.P.O.N. - Im Zweifel links: Merkel tauscht Europa gegen Stammtisch - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Politik S.P.O.N. - In case of doubt left: Merkel exchanges Europe against bar room - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
...Merkels chauvinistische Parolen sind gefährlich. Sie können den ohnehin erstarkenden Rechtspopulismus im Land befördern. Darüber hinaus sind sie aber auch bigott. Die Exportüberschüsse, auf die sich die Deutschen so viel einbilden, bedingen die Leistungsbilanzdefizite der anderen geradezu. Andersherum: Entweder die Deutschen erzielen Exportüberschüsse - oder die anderen tragen ihre Schulden ab. Beides gleichzeitig geht nicht. Da ist eine große Unaufrichtigkeit am Werk, die das Wesen des Populismus ist. Es wäre die Aufgabe der Kanzlerin, hier für Klarheit zu sorgen. Und nicht das Ressentiment zu befördern.... Merkel's chauvinistic slogans are dangerous. They can advance the already strengthening right-wing populism in the country. In addition, they are also bigoted. The export surplus of which Germans are so smug about downright necessitate the current account deficits of the others. The other way round: either the Germans achieve export surpluses - or the others reduce their debts. Both at the same time won't go. There is a great dishonesty at work that is the essence of populism. It would be up to the Chancellor to provide clarity in this. And not to advance the resentment.
Deutschland hat seine Löhne und seinen Lebensstandard rabiat gesenkt und sich dadurch Wettbewerbsvorteile verschafft. In Frankreich sind die Löhne in den vergangenen zehn Jahren um 14,5 Prozent gestiegen. In Deutschland sind sie um sieben Prozent gesunken. Es ist schon schlimm genug, dass die Deutschen zu dieser sonderbaren Selbstkasteiung bereit waren. Gewerkschaften, Sozialdemokraten und Medien haben hierzulande versagt, als es darum ging, die Interessen der Beschäftigten zu vertreten. Daran sind die Deutschen selber schuld. Aber es ist abwegig, im Ernst zu glauben, Deutschland könne seinen unsinnig asketischen Lebensstil ganz Europa aufzwingen. Am deutschen Wesen will die Welt nicht genesen.Germany has reduced its wages and its standard of living brutally and achieved competitive advantage thereby. In France, the wages in the last ten years have increased by 14.5 percent. In Germany they fell by seven percent. It's bad enough that the Germans were ready for this strange self-flagellation. Unions, Social Democrats and the media in this country have failed when it came to represent the interests of employees. For this the Germans have themselves to blame. But it is absurd to seriously believe that Germany could impose its nonsensically ascetic lifestyle on all of Europe. The world won't recover on the German character.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 04:29:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Am i discerning Der Spiegel shedding its neo-lib recent history?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 07:53:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Far from it, that's just the quota lefty columnist. They also have the other side of the spectrum (deep black) and some mixed up people in between.
by epochepoque on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 10:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Before, they did not even have a quota lefty columnist, so I definitely sense a shift. But true, overall, they are still neolib and neocon. (Just read the Emmanuel Todd interview quoted in the Salon: some of the questions could have been asked by Daniel Pipes.)

The other article I wanted to quote last night was actually just a press review, and what caught my eyes originated in this:

Merkel -- populism never takes holidays | Presseurop (English)

In arguing that Greeks, Portuguese and Spanish shouldn't have more holidays, Angela Merkel is not only spreading disinformation based on cultural stereotypes, but undermining the very foundations of the EU, argues a Portuguese columnist.

Other than that and the Jakob Augstein piece, there is only an article on the SPD and Greens criticising Merkel, there is no factual debunking like in SZ and taz.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 03:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I found a de-bunking article in Spiegel. It is even more thorough than SZ's. However, the debunking is preceded by a dissection of irrelevant economic weaknesses of the three countries (among others, unit labour costs), so that they can answer their own question, "Is Merkel right?" with a "Jein" (combination of Yes and No that doesn't translate)... This may be worse than not doing any debunking.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 11:22:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Germany they fell by seven percent.

And then they "allocated" the generated surplus to irish and spanish housing market. Now they want to rob irish and spanish labour as they have done to germans. And "the left" drives these policies..

by kjr63 on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 04:50:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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