Concern in Greece over Angela Merkel's win

Greek newspapers One Greek headline reads 'Triumph for the Queen of Austerity'

There has been a worried response in Greece to the win for German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sunday's election.

The front page of the centre-left daily Ta Nea has a mocked-up photo of Angela Merkel on a throne with the headline "Triumph for the Queen of Austerity".

Mrs Merkel is seen as the figure behind austerity measures imposed on Greece after its 2010 bailout.

Reaction on the financial markets has been restrained as investors wait to see what sort of coalition emerges.

'Hated' cuts

Analysis

The most intense pressure in the eurozone financial crisis may have eased, but there is a still a heavy agenda to work through.

There is certainly a perception that some of it has been on hold until after the German election.

There's a real chance that further bailouts will be needed - a second for Portugal and a third for Greece. So far the financial assistance has come in the form of loans, but Greece in particular could need debt relief.

There is also the eurozone's banking union project. One element is a central authority for dealing with struggling banks.

The plan is for the banks themselves to finance it, but in the early stages it could need taxpayers' money. None of this will be popular in Germany, but it is perhaps the price of underpinning the eurozone.

Greeks blame austerity measures for an unemployment rate that has risen to almost 28%.

"There is little joy here at the prospect of another four years of Mrs Merkel," says BBC Athens correspondent Mark Lowen.

"She's come to symbolise the much-hated budget cuts demanded of Greece".

Greece needs an extra 10bn euros of funding from its creditors next year and now the German election is over those talks can begin.

The Greek government says the country cannot take any more austerity and needs debt relief by lowering interest rates or extending the repayment period of its loans.

Some Greeks hope that Chancellor Merkel will invite Peer Steinbrueck of the Social Democrats (SPD) into a coalition.

He has criticised austerity and called for more growth measures to help this debt-stricken economy.

But Mark Lowen says: "It's unlikely that there'll be any significant change of policy from Berlin, particularly as Chancellor Merkel's handling of the euro crisis proved so popular with her voters."

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party took about 42% of the vote, but finished just short of an absolute majority, official results show.

But she might yet have to seek a grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) who won about 26% of the vote.

"The result of Germany's election is, first and foremost, a big vote of confidence in Merkel and her handling of the eurozone crisis," said Nicholas Spiro, who runs his own research firm, Spiro Strategy.

"No other leader of a major economy has been able to reap more political dividends from an international financial and economic crisis."

Other business

As well as Greece, Chancellor Merkel's victory could also allow Europe to make progress on other pressing issues.

Portugal's financial situation remains precarious and the government is pushing for the target on its government finances to be eased.

Last week, credit rating agency S&P said there was an increased likelihood that Portugal might need another bailout.

Steve Evans considers how Germany's economic policy might change following the election result

Progress on the eurozone's banking union project has also been disrupted.

The project has been designed to make the financial sector more resistant to future crises and involves the creation of a central agency to deal with failed banks.

The agency will need some financial backing in its early years, but Germany has so far been reluctant to provide that support.

"The most intense pressure in the eurozone financial crisis may have eased, but there is a still a heavy agenda to work through," said BBC Economics Correspondent, Andrew Walker.

"None of this will be popular in Germany, but it is perhaps the price of underpinning the eurozone," he said.

'Cautiously optimistic'

Market reaction to Mrs Merkel's victory has been muted, as investors wait to see what kind of coalition emerges after the election.

"It will be tough to buy the euro strongly on the German elections as it will be some time before we know what kind of coalition we will get," said Antje Praefcke, currency strategist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

"Sentiment is cautiously optimistic, dependent on data.

"A coalition with the SPD should result in euro-friendly and peripheral [nation] friendly policies," she said.

Germany's economy has been leading Europe out of recession, and during the April to June quarter it grew by 0.7%.

More on This Story

More Business stories

RSS

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • A bird of prey in a Tokyo animal cafeThe Travel Show Watch

    From cats to rabbits and birds of prey – Tokyo’s flourishing animal cafe scene

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.