Athens fears impact of German election fallout


The victory in Sunday’s German election of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – albeit with heavy losses – is a cause for concern in Athens as political developments in the European Union’s wealthiest nation could punch holes in the narrative of Greece’s leftist-led government with regard to a range of issues, not least the Greek bailout program and hopes for debt relief. 

Kathimerini understands that Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was visiting Athens on Monday, suggested the result would not affect the Greek program. 

However, with the Free Democracts (FDP) – which won 11 percent of the vote – tipped as a possible coalition partner, analysts did not appear to share the same sentiments. 

“The FDP’s stance is clear,” said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, vice president at the Washington-based German Marshall Fund think tank. 

“The party has basically said no to Greece, to the further integration of the eurozone, the establishment of a eurozone finance minister and the creation of a European monetary fund,” he said. 

The Greek government’s concerns are also echoed by a number of analysts at home and abroad who fear that the German election result – which also saw the far-right AfD party become Germany’s third strongest party with 12.6 percent of the vote, as well as a leak of right-wing voters from the CDU – could trigger a conservative backlash. 

This could in turn, sources say, prompt the new government in Berlin to take a tougher stance on a range of issues directly impacting Greece, including immigration and German-Turkish relations. 

With Merkel now embarking on the difficult quest to form a coalition, analysts believe this could lead to a prolonged phase of horse-trading with other parties, to the chagrin of Athens as there is strong conviction in Greece that without a government in place in Germany, the third review of the country’s third bailout will not be completed within the desired timeframe. 

But the bailout is not the only issue worrying Athens, as a tougher stance by Berlin on the migrant/refugee issue could have a direct impact on Greece, which has borne the brunt of the crisis since 2015. 

Furthermore, Athens fears that a further deterioration of the already strained German-Turkish relations could have an adverse impact on ties between Greece and its neighbor on the other side of the Aegean. 

Given that Ankara’s relations with the EU have been sorely tested ever since its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, launched a large-scale purge in the wake of the failed coup attempt last year, sources in Athens have indicated that Turkey could get even more jittery, especially after the Kurdish referendum went ahead on Monday in Iraq, which it vehemently opposed.

To the end of containing any negative impact on Greek-Turkish relations and to defuse recent tension between the two countries, the government is banking on Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’s visit there on October 24.