Forget a ‘Grexit’. Twitter Users Want Germany's Finance Minister to Go Instead

“And what will happen if Greece agrees with the four points you mention?” “Nothing. I'll introduce more points.”

In the last few hours of Sunday, July 12, a new Twitter hashtag replaced the infamous #Grexit, a term coined to represent the possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone due to the major financial crisis embroiling the country.

#Schaeublexit became the new trending topic on social media, as netizens in Europe expressed their frustration towards German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and his demands of the Greek government during the crucial Eurogroup meeting to negotiate a new bailout program for Greece.

After 31 hours of discussions, Eurozone leaders and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reached an agreement early Monday that would mean billions more in loans for cash-strapped Greece in exchange for implementing even more painful austerity. Greece's parliament is expected to vote on the package later this week.

During the negotiations, while Greece finally presented a proposal it said met the Eurogroup's requirements, Schäuble demanded more measures be taken, pressuring the Greek government to the edge and setting obstacles to any agreement. A leaked document revealed that Germany's Finance Ministry suggested a “Greek time-out” from the Eurozone: a five-year-long Grexit with humanitarian aid, which many EU leaders, including the prime ministers of France and Italy, found unacceptable to even be discussed as a possibility.

This led not only Europeans, but also European leaders to accuse him for wanting a Grexit all along.

While some users raised the specter of Europe's warring past.

Greece received two bailout packages in 2010 and 2011 that were tied to strict austerity measures, but the country's economy has never fully recovered. The leftist Greek government under Prime Minister Tsipras, which was voted into power in January [article in Global Voices], has come out strongly in opposition to austerity, and the Greek people reaffirmed the government’s stance during a referendum when it issued a clear “no” to the demands of the Troika (member states of the Eurozone, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund).

Germany, being one of the Greece's largest creditors and the Eurozone's biggest economy, holds considerable sway over the bailout program. But reactions from other European leaders to Germany's suggestion of a temporary Grexit haven't been kind.

Schäuble didn't help matters last week, when he joked about debt-wracked Puerto Rico:

I offered my friend Jack Lew these days that we could take Puerto Rico into the euro zone if the U.S. were willing to take Greece into the dollar union.

Twitter user @sesikar wasn't amused:

‘What if we name Schäuble emperor of Europe?’

The humiliation that Greeks are feeling has begun to spread throughout the continent, with Europeans wondering what the European Union is really about, if democracy and national dignity seem to be nothing more than details.

What if we name Schäuble emperor of Europe? Then we will spend less time “nitpicking” on details such as democracy, no?

Although Greece does share the blame for its current situation, some Europeans have expressed sympathy for the current government as it tries to do what's best for both its country and the EU.

Wolfgang Schäuble is not a saint himself, either. Netizens have been digging up the CDU donation scandal in 1999 and 2000, in which the German minister was embroiled.


Later the same night, the hashtag #ThisIsACoup became the world's second trending topic and the first in Germany, Greece, Holland and Ireland. Twitter users expressed their anger towards Germany's proposals, some of which suggested interfering with Greece's legislation system and transferring Greek government assets, amounting to approximately 50 billion euros, to an independent fund established in Luxembourg, whose revenues from privatization would be directed immediately to the repayment of loans. Images also circulated on social media that portrayed Schäuble as a Nazi or even Hitler.

The hashtag became even more popular when Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize in Economics recipient, wrote in his New York Times blog:

[…]  this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.

It is uncertain what the future holds for Greece or the rest of Europe, but after negotiations this weekend what is certain is that from now on Europe will never be the same again.


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