NEWS

Senior member of Merkel’s bloc resigns over Greek bailout

A senior member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc announced Tuesday he was stepping down in a dispute over the government’s response to Greece’s debt woes.

Peter Gauweiler, a well-known euroskeptic and outspoken critic of euro bailout funds, said he was quitting both his seat in parliament and his position as his Bavaria-based party’s deputy leader.

The 65-year-old is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats and a member of her ruling coalition.

As cash-strapped Greece seeks to secure more bailout funds, Gauweiler complained he had been criticized, including by his own party, because of his longstanding and well-known opposition to eurozone bailouts.

He has been publicly called upon to vote in the Bundestag lower house of parliament to “decide the opposite of what, for years, I’ve stood for, at the German Constitutional Court and with my voters”, he said in a statement.

Gauweiler was among the plaintiffs who lost a case in 2012 lodged with Germany’s top court against two crisis-fighting tools aimed at helping solve the debt crisis in the single currency bloc.

The CSU politician, who became an MP in 2002, said he had informed Bundestag president Norbert Lammert in writing of his decision and spoken in person with CSU chief Horst Seehofer about his resignation as party deputy.

Seehofer, on whose initiative Gauweiler stood for the deputy’s position in November 2013, said he respected the decision and thanked him for his work.

Europe’s paymaster Germany has been leading the push for austerity in Europe which has led to tensions with Greece’s new left-wing government.

German lawmakers last month approved a bailout extension for Athens but the government stresses that Athens must stick to a reform plan in return for financial help.

[AFP]