German coalition at odds over Greek debt

17th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble rapped his colleague's handling of the economy Saturday for talking about Greek default, exposing a growing rift in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition.

Schaeuble, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrat party and one of the most influential ministers in her cabinet, took issue with Philipp Roesler, leader of the Free Democrats, in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag.

Roesler panicked the markets on Monday after saying that Europe could no longer rule out an "orderly default" by Greece on its huge debt repayment.

Schaueble said that under Merkel's directives it was the finance minister who handled matters linked to the euro.

"Freedom of speech prevails in a democracy," he said. "But it is the finance minister who is responsible for financial policy in the federal government."

The eurozone crisis has seen the FDP harden its attacks on European bailout plans for Greece in a bid to recover plunging electoral support.

Merkel's junior partner has been kicked out of a number of regional parliaments after failing to secure the necessary five percent of the vote and are threatened with the same fate in the capital on Sunday.

Its electoral problems led to Roesler taking over the leadership of the FDP from its long-time head, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is now being tipped to leave the government, despite his denials.

© 2011 AFP

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