Northern Germany might not be known for its potent lone-rangers, but when it comes to riding out stormy weather (and political thunderstorms in particular) then Lucke – or Lucky Lucke as he is known in these parts – is your man.
Notorious for shooting fast from the hip – albeit with unforgiving words, as opposed to unforgiving pistols – Lucke hunts mercilessly after one target, and one target only. Elected leader of the AfD, the ‘Alternative for Germany’ party, he passionately loathes the euro.
As he explains: “We want to stop those political euro rescue actions and break up the eurozone. The euro is dividing Europe instead of unifying it. We want to stop those multi-billion-euro payments in favour of southern European countries. Those payments are deepening the economic crisis there.”
Only founded in February, ‘Alternative for Germany’ has already got 13,000 members and with 500 signing up every week, is Germany’s fastest growing political outfit. Moreover, supporters are being scooped from right across the political spectrum. Lucke, himself, is the epitome of this party stripped of labels. Having been a member of Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian-Democrat party for 33 years, he set off alone as soon as they backed the euro rescue.
How lucky Lucke actually gets largely depends on his ability to shift public opinion. Now, one in three Germans want a return to the deutsche mark, while one in four have sympathy for the argument that the southern European dept burden will sink Germany in the future. Only three percent of Germans are currently expected to vote for Lucke’s party in the September elections but the lone shooter is confident this will stretch to two-digits, such is the party’s momentum. Even with less votes, AfD could still help dislodge Merkel’s government.
This despite the fact that, up until now, Germany has not lost a single cent (let alone a euro) from its bailout actions. Futhermore, Peter Bofinger, who is an economic adviser to the government, is adamant that stepping out altogether would take the country down a ruinous path: “Closing the eurozone would be an enormous shock, creating insecurity, comparable to the shock of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Such a shock would trigger very significant negative effects for investors and change the economic situation. Secondly, such a shock would create enormous problems for the whole financial system.”
Instead, Bofinger pleads for fiscal integration and Eurobonds; solutions Lucke interprets as further acts of governmental betrayal: “This would be cheating the German voters. When introducing the euro, decision-makers promised not to accept liability for other countries’ debt. Moreover, Eurobonds would send completely wrong signals for fiscal behavior to other states. They would spend money without keeping an eye on their income if they know that Germany or other solvent states will guarantee their debt.”
To return to the promised land of pre-euro Germany, Eurosceptics are calling for popular referendums on the country’s monetary policies. And whilst this, and the dismantling of the eurozone in general, might be a long shot at the moment, the Eurosceptics are potentially strong enough to still knock the current ruling order off their saddle.
And come September’s rodeo, you can bet your spurs Lucky Lucke will be doing everything he can to unbalance them.
To listen to the complete interview (in German) with Bernd Lucke, head of the German political party ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ (AfD), please click on this button. Lucke gives his interpretation of the current eurozone crisis and calls on southern European euro members to make their exit.
Interview Bonus: Bernd Lucke
To listen to the complete interview (in German) with Peter Bofinger, economic adviser to the German government, please follow this link. Peter Bofinger outlines his belief in eurobonds and fiscal integration within the eurozone, calling for closer economic and political coordination among eurozone member governments.
Interview Bonus: Peter Bofinger