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It's not just Germans watching the vote

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 02:42

Sept 18 - National elections take place in Germany on Sunday but it's not just the Germans watching with interest. As Joanna Partridge reports from Berlin the future of the entire euro zone depends on Europe's largest economy.

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They're certainly livening up Germany's election. And the new anti-euro party Alternative for Germany is also highlighting the country's relationship with the rest of the euro zone. Money up in smoke is their view of euro zone bailouts. It's not shared by everyone but there is a good chance the AfD will get the 5% share of votes it needs to enter the national parliament. Not bad, considering they only burst onto the scene earlier this year, led by economics professor Bernd Lucke. SOUNDBITE: BERND LUCKE, DESIGNATED HEAD OF THE ALTERNATIVE FOR GERMANY PARTY, SAYING: "In politics nothing is irreversible, especially the euro. It was a historic mistake, but mistakes can be corrected." Both Chancellor Angela Merkel's party and the opposition have avoided discussing tough questions about the euro zone. Merkel instead choosing to talk up how she led Europe's largest economy through the dark days of the crisis. REUTERS REPORTER JOANNA PARTRIDGE, SAYING: Even if Sunday´s vote leads to little change in the Bundestag, the rest of the euro zone will be watching for any signs of a change in direction from Berlin. If she secures her third and possibly her final term as Chancellor, some wonder if Angela Merkel might start looking towards her legacy, and if that might lead to a softening of her stance on austerity. Michael Wohlgemuth from Open Europe Berlin says Merkel also has to keep the Germans happy. SOUNDBITE: Michael Wohlgemuth, Director, Open Europe Berlin, saying (English): "There's two legacies to keep in mind. The one would be the saviour of the euro zone, but also you know the protector of German taxpayers' money and how she wants to combine the two legacies and have positive results on both counts is a rather tricky thing to accomplish over the next four years." Merkel's Christian Democrats won't win enough votes to govern alone. And support for her current coalition partners, the FDP, has been slipping. A grand coalition with the opposition SPD is another possibility. Some think that might lead to a government which is more sympathetic to the woes of countries like Greece. But either way, the new government must tackle some big issues pretty quickly, says Standard Chartered's Sarah Hewin SOUNDBITE: Sarah Hewin, Standard Chartered, saying (English): "What decisions have been delayed until these polls are out of the way, and there are several we can think of, in particular Greece, how you find new finance for Greece, and banking union, how can you get to the next stage of banking union." Merkel may well continue with the same approach to Europe as she practises at home - taking one small step at a time. So far it seems to have saved the single currency - even if Alternative for Germany would prefer it not to be that way.

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It's not just Germans watching the vote

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 02:42