Angela Merkel was on the brink of exiting politics on Monday after losing a key vote on austerity measures for Greece – a decision that marked her last chance to reshape Germany’s decade-long involvement in the Eurozone.
‘Best sentence I can put together, this is a bad day for Europe’, a defiant Merkel told reporters afterwards.
Germany has taken on a heavy financial and military burden in recent years, and there is growing unease about Merkel’s reluctant support for the multibillion-euro bailout measures for Greece, Spain and Portugal.
She has at times been in disagreement with the International Monetary Fund, which has argued that fiscal policies pursued by some of the countries should be overhauled, including a tightening of spending and a shift to greater taxation.
Merkel’s last chance to change tack before the next European Parliament elections in 2019 may lie in opposing a so-called ‘mini-bailout’ for Italy or setting up an additional fund to help Greece keep paying its debts.