Fanning The Flames of the Euro Crisis: Europe's 10 Most Dangerous Politicians

A Commentary by SPIEGEL ONLINE Staff

The tone in the euro debate is becoming more aggressive. Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder said on Sunday that Greece must be 'made an example of.' Politicians in other countries are resorting to similarly provocative rhetoric. Ten populists are whipping up sentiment -- and thereby worsening the crisis.

Photo Gallery: Reckless Rhetoric from Europe's Populists Photos

Europe is in the midst of a serious crisis and the euro is in a perilous situation. Greece, the currency union's greatest problem child, has failed to push through necessary reforms. Spain is battling to avoid a full sovereign bailout. Italy too is grappling with soaring interest rates on government bonds due to its debt problems. So is Cyprus. And Slovenia may become the next country to need a bailout.

That's only the economic side of the euro crisis. It has another face, too: The people out there who are trying to profit from it -- namely every politician who is resorting to cheap populism in order to rack up domestic political points. Joining the ranks this week is Markus Söder, the finance minister of the German state of Bavaria. Söder is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union. The CSU is part of Merkel's center-right coalition government. On Sunday, Söder said "an example must be made of Greece."

"Everyone has to leave Mom at some point and that time has come for the Greeks," he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Söder's statements prompted German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to issue a warning: "The tone of the debate is very dangerous," he said. "We need to be careful not to talk Europe to death."

Indeed, Söder and his populist friends from other European Union countries are grossly oversimplifying the situation and, by doing so, intensifying the euro crisis a little bit more each day. They are playing with fire that could threaten the entire European project. They are fueling, both directly and indirectly, stereotypes and resentments about purportedly lazy southern Europeans on the one hand and domineering Germans on the other. Their goal: To attract as many voters as they can for their own gain. All of this, of course, comes at the expense of a united Europe.

SPIEGEL ONLINE has compiled quotes from the 10 most dangerous euro agitators. Click on the Photo Gallery below to begin.

Photo Gallery

10  Photos
Photo Gallery: Reckless Rhetoric from Europe's Populists

Compiled by Florian Gathmann, Rico Grimm and Severin Weiland

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1. Is the pot calling the kettle black?
Inglenda2 08/08/2012
To call politicians dangerous because they do not accept a weak Euro is rather stupid! A common currency is bound to fail when the partaking member states all have different Tax, health, employment and pension arrangements. Many older Germans have twice experienced a complete loss of the value of their savings. Now it seems the government of the country, without any necessity, cannot wait until the same thing happens again. Within the last year alone, the Euro has lost 25% of its buying power in comparison to the Pound Sterling. An interest rate of just 0.5 / 3.5 % does not even cover the rise in cost of basic essentials. It would not be unwise for Germany to suspend the use of the Euro as a currency, until such time as the needed basic common denominator for European money has been found. One cannot expect German employees to work until they are 67 years of age, in order to finance the pensions in other countries where retirement can occur as early as the age of 49.
2. Easy shooting.
yiannaki 08/08/2012
To be clear I'm happy when we can have and keep one euro, but for those populists it was easy shooting last years. What a mess did we make out of it. By ignoring important cultural parameters in Europe. Not because of those populists, but I think a major decission has to be made after September: Either we do really integrate at a European level by introducing Eurobonds etc. By this we do accept the risks concerning the economy and attitudes of the South of Europe, and by that the criticism of the Nothern populists. Or we do split up the euro in one for the north and a then devaluated one for the south, but with return possibilities when being neuro-proof which will take more than 25 years or 2 generations. And by that the criticism of the South populists. I do choose for the last option. Because it's more solid.
3. Europe's 10 most Dangerous Politicians
sylvesterthecat 08/08/2012
Spiegel... If you believe that the ten politicians whose pictures you show, are the most dangerous in Europe then that's your judgement and you are fully entitled to make it. Why then do you use the prejorative word " populist " to describe those with whom you obviously disagree? You are not alone, many of the left wing press and virtually all the Europhile press in the UK, use words like this to describe the 'hated' Eurosceptic. They are of course, meant to denigrate but I find that depending who uses them, words like 'populist' tend to attract rather than repel. After all, it only takes a few minutes to read an article or listen to a speech, and I may learn something.
4.
dljumbo 08/08/2012
The most dangerous politicians are the one who still think that the EU and the Euro are a good idea. Thankfully Britain will be leaving the EU within a few short years and the sooner the better. We prefer our laws to be made in our own Parliament by our own MPs. We do not like our laws to be made in brussels by a Commission which we can neither elect nor remove at the ballot box. Peter Mandelson, an ex-communist, ex-Labour MP and ex-Commissioner said that we are now moving towards a post democratic age. I think we have been there before. This is a most sinister statement coming from an ex-communist like Mandelson. He was referring to the system of government we have in the EU where the voice of the people counts for nothing. Welcome to the EUSSR. At the EU elections in 2014, Nigel Farage's party, UKIP, is expected to get a majority of the votes increasing the numbers of 'dangerous' politicians in the EU parliament. If you don't like what Farage says then may I ask that you campaign to eject Britain from the EU. Our politicians will not be very pleased but the people will be delighted.
5. Meinst du das ernst? ....
Phil Perspective 08/08/2012
Was ist der Sinn davon? Warum nicht auflisten Menschen, die sich für die Euro-Krise schuld sind?
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