German media hail Angela Merkel as hero in debt crisis, but ...


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REPORTING FROM BERLIN -- German news outlets made it clear Thursday who they thought the real winner was in the marathon talks that produced a new plan by European leaders to deal with the continent’s raging debt crisis.

‘The world celebrates Angela Merkel,’ blared the headline on the website of the tabloid Das Bild, Germany’s largest-circulation newspaper, adding: ‘Only the Greeks bad-mouth our chancellor.’


Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading newsmagazine, declared that the developments were ‘above all to the credit of the chancellor.’ Although the journal has in the past been critical of Merkel and her efforts to alleviate the debt crisis, it said Germany’s leader can now ‘cash in, politically and personally, on her mastery of the chaos.’

The new plan envisages increasing the size of Europe’s bailout fund from $600 billion to $1.4 trillion and slashing Greek debt.

Merkel took a risk by putting the plan to a vote in the German parliament Wednesday before the European Union summit in Brussels. But she emerged with two resounding victories -- first with a 503-89 vote in favor of the plan from her fellow lawmakers, then with a deal in Brussels that saw the major disputes resolved the way she wanted.

By midafternoon, the main German stock index, the DAX, was up nearly 5% on the news.

But some German papers urged caution.

Die Zeit called the debt deal a ‘Pyrrhic victory’ and warned that ‘the danger that the crisis spreads to Italy and France is by no means averted.’ And the Süddeutsche Zeitung noted that Merkel had made many promises and that ‘if France and Italy falter, those promises will be hard to keep.’


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-- Aaron Wiener