German Euro Critic Quits Merkel Caucus in Greece Protest

A prominent opponent of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies to save the euro quit her governing coalition, giving up his seat in parliament in protest at the extension of Greece’s aid program.

Peter Gauweiler, 65, whose Christian Social Union is the Bavarian affiliate of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, cited pressure to vote with her caucus for last month’s extension of Greek aid, which he opposed. He also quit as CSU deputy party chairman, his office said in a statement Tuesday.

While Gauweiler has consistently opposed euro-area bailouts and bond-buying by the European Central Bank, his departure underscores growing resistance in Merkel’s party bloc to financial aid for Greece. German lawmakers, including most of Merkel’s caucus, have backed aid for euro-area partners ever since the crisis spread from Greece in 2009.

“I was publicly called upon to vote in the Bundestag contrary to what I’ve advocated for years at the Federal Constitutional Court and with my voters,” Gauweiler said in the e-mailed statement. “This is not compatible with my understanding of my responsibilities as a legislator.”

Gauweiler, a four-term lawmaker, is one of the faces of German opposition to euro-area bailouts. He is among the plaintiffs who went to Germany’s highest court to challenge ECB policies to defend the euro, including President Mario Draghi’s Outright Monetary Transactions bond-buying plan.

Anti-Euro Party

A member of the lower house, or Bundestag, since 2002, Gauweiler was made a deputy leader of his party by CSU head Horst Seehofer in 2013 in a bid to court the party’s euro critics. He joined 28 other members of Merkel’s caucus to oppose Greece’s loan extension on Feb. 27.

Bernd Lucke, the co-leader of the anti-euro Alternative for Germany, said he would welcome Gauweiler and CDU lawmaker Wolfgang Bosbach, another euro critic, in his party. CDU leaders “want to hold on to the euro at all costs,” Lucke said in a phone interview.

Alternative for Germany isn’t represented in the German parliament, though it has won seats in four state assemblies and the European Parliament since last year.

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