Schaeuble to Leave German FinMin: Not Necessarily Good News for Greece

Germany’s pro-austerity Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is ready to quit his job and become head of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said on Wednesday, following Sunday’s election.

Schaeuble is deeply respected at home for his tight control of public finances since taking on the job in 2009, but is loathed in Greece and elsewhere in southern Europe for his insistence on tough austerity steps during the eurozone crisis.

Although undoubtedly a lot of Greeks may be happy with this -including some inside the government-, Schaeuble’s departure from the German finance ministry is not necessarily good news for the country.

And that’s because the pro-business, fiscally hawkish Free Democrats (FDP), a likely coalition partner for Merkel’s conservatives, has said it wants to run the finance ministry in any new government. And now it might very well get it.

During the campaign the FDP had repeatedly asked for a temporary expulsion of Greece from the eurozone, but not the EU. If the party secures the finance ministry, pressure on chancellor Merkel to reconsider her position on Greece, will be high.

“We are pleased that Wolfgang Schaeuble has agreed to become a candidate for the position (of president of the Bundestag),” Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel’s conservatives, said in a statement.

The centre-right CDU/CSU bloc will propose Schaeuble as their candidate for the Bundestag post, at their next meeting on Oct. 17, Kauder added.