BERLIN, March 8 Italy may decide to exit the
euro or take other drastic action, a leader of German Chancellor
Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners said after an Italian
election showed rising opposition to austerity measures.
Financial markets have been on tenterhooks since the
election less than two weeks ago in which the centre left won a
majority in Italy's lower house of parliament but failed to gain
the Senate majority it would need to govern.
"The decision to adjust to the common currency is one that
Italy has to take for itself, it's not for us to take. If Italy
does not want to do that, they have to take the consequences,"
Rainer Bruederle of the Free Democrats (FDP) told a talk show on
"That could mean that they exit (the euro) or that they take
drastic measures. But it's down to Italy to decide that," said
Bruederle, the pro-business FDP's parliamentary leader who is
heading its campaign for a federal election in September.
The prospect of prolonged uncertainty and new elections
within months in the euro zone's third-largest economy could
reignite the debt crisis just as a central bank promise to do
what it takes calmed markets in recent months.
Bruederle's comments on the German public broadcaster ZDF
could anger Italians already upset with German politicians
commenting on their internal political affairs.
Last week, Italy's president cancelled a dinner with Peer
Steinbrueck in Berlin after the opposition SPD chancellor
candidate described former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and
comic-turned-politician Beppe Grillo as "clowns".
Bruederle also said Italy had not taken necessary reforms
for years and was lacking competitiveness.
"What's Italy's core problem? Italy is not competitive. They
are not capable of earning what they think they deserve to
spend," Bruederle said.
"High unemployment is not the responsibility of Brussels or
German politics...Italy has to (reform its labour market) as
well. To do nothing but moan is too easy."
With less than seven months to go until federal elections in
Germany, his comments drew criticism from the opposition.
Joachim Poss, deputy parliamentary floor leader for the
centre-left Social Democrats, said Bruederle and the FDP had
"already contributed to the destabilisation of the euro zone"
with their reservations about some of the bailout schemes.
"Bruederle is disqualifying himself again for top political
positions with such irresponsible comments on a possible
euro-exit by Italy," said Poss.
Earlier this year, a female journalist's allegations that
Bruederle, 67, had made sexist comments about her cleavage in a
bar a year ago stirred a debate about the relationship between
reporters and politicians in Germany.