BERLIN, Feb 10 (Reuters) - German newspapers painted the apparent withdrawal of Bundesbank chief Axel Weber from the race to replace ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet as a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and her bid to put a German at the top of the Frankfurt-based central bank.
European sources told Reuters on Wednesday that Weber was no longer in the running for the top ECB job and could stand down as Bundesbank chief before his term expires in April 2012, although Weber himself has made no comment on his future. [ID:nLDE7180MQ]
In a front-page editorial entitled “Weber must explain himself”, the paper says: “It is worse than poor style when the German chancellor has to read from news agency reports that her candidate for the post of ECB president is ready to jump ... Frau Merkel stands now with empty hands. The chancellor and her finance minister had been preparing the ground for the first German ECB president among their European partners for months.”
“Bundesbank chief snubs the Chancellor” reads the front-page article. “Axel Weber no longer wants to become president of the European Central Bank, despite the fact he is Merkel’s candidate.”
In an editorial, the paper says: “Axel Weber has spoiled everything for himself. A switch to Deutsche Bank can’t happen. The brilliant Professor Weber can only return to a research post or head abroad. Once again, Angela Merkel has had no luck with her top people. First she was duped by Horst Koehler, who stepped down as German president without warning. Now she learns at the last minute that Bundesbank chief Axel Weber, her most important ally in the rescue of the euro, is throwing in the towel.”
“Axel Weber gives up” reads the front-page headline. “Weber’s decision is an affront against Merkel, who wanted a German in this key post for the euro in order to safeguard national interests ... She knew that Weber had received another job offer, but was surprised by the timing of his decision. It is now unlikely that Merkel will name a new German candidate. This wouldn’t be credible, government sources have made clear.”
“The loneliness of Axel Weber,” is the front-page headline. “The Bundesbank chief is no longer available for a second term. As defender of the German stability culture, he had become increasingly isolated in debt-laden Europe. Even Chancellor Merkel had left him in the lurch recently.
“The closer (Merkel) moved to French President Sarkozy — most recently with her approval of an EU economic government — the cooler became her relationship with Weber. With his part-resignation, he has increased the pressure on Merkel to explain her policies. His departure is a warning. If someone like Weber goes, he won’t go quietly.”
“What a blow for Merkel” is the title of a commentary on the second page of Germany’s top-selling newspaper. “The Bundesbank chief has thrown in the towel and the chancellor is standing in the rain. There is still no real clarity on why Bundesbank chief Weber is stepping down. But the consequences are clear. What a blow. For the chancellor. For the euro.”
“Weber embarrasses Merkel” is the headline on the front of the paper’s economics section. “Apparently without consulting the chancellor, the Bundesbank president drops his candidancy and ruins Germany’s chances for the ECB chairmanship ... From a communications point of view is all of this a disaster.” (Compiled by Noah Barkin)