Bild Zeitung Calls for German Referendum on Bailouts, Greek Euro Expulsion

Germany’s best-selling Bild newspaper called for Greece to be ejected from the euro and demanded that Germans hold their own vote on dispatching financial aid, signaling growing exasperation in Europe’s largest economy.

“Take the euro away from the Greeks!” Bild said today on its front page after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy raised the prospect of a splintered euro area for the first time. The leaders cut off financial aid to Greece until a December referendum they said will determine whether the country receives any more outside funds.

“We’ve had enough!” Bild said. “We’re spending hundreds of billions of euros to save the Greeks and now a referendum there should make clear whether they want to make savings at all. Now we want our own referendum: no more billions for the Greeks, Greece out of the euro!”

The stance of Germany’s most influential daily underscores the frustration in the biggest contributor to bailouts with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s surprise decision to hold a popular vote, a move that sent markets tumbling.

Germany and France led calls to make the referendum a vote on whether to stay in the euro or return to the Greek drachma. Sarkozy said Papandreou’s government won’t get a “single cent” of assistance if voters reject the plan.

Lawmakers Echo Bild

German lawmakers chimed in with sentiments similar to Bild on Greece’s position. Hermann Otto Solms, the deputy floor leader and finance spokesman of Merkel’s Free Democratic coalition partner, said the agreement cobbled together at last week’s European Union summit was the “last offer” for Greece.

“If the Greeks don’t agree to it, they’d be better off to go back to the drachma,” Solms said in a Twitter message.

Klaus-Peter Flosbach, a senior finance policy lawmaker in Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said that turmoil in Europe caused by Papandreou’s decision to hold a vote is “very much weighing on our readiness to help.”

Bild, owned by Axel Springer AG, printed a mocked-up ballot on its second page that included two options: “Yes, keep throwing money at them!” and “No, not another cent for bankrupt Greece, take the euro away!”

To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net; Rainer Buergin in Berlin at rbuergin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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