Merkel announces private savings to be guaranteed in Germany
Angela Merkel has announced today that Germany will guarantee all private savings accounts in the country. This follows the news that Hypo Real Estate, Germany’s second biggest commercial property lender, is in trouble after a 35bn euro rescue package fell through. Ireland and Greece have already taken their own action to protect savers’ deposits, moves that had received criticism from within the EU – including Merkel herself and the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
The “big four” of Brown, Sarkozy, Merkel, and Berlusconi met in Paris yesterday to discuss the economic crisis – and the question now is whether we can expect deposit protection measures to be rolled out across the EU, now that one of the European giants has announced such a measure. Robert Peston expects Alistair Darling to make a similar announcement in the next 24 hours.
Austria – the leaders’ merry-go-round continues, new government awaited
About half a million or so postal votes are still being counted in Austria, with final election results due next week – official results are here. An historic election in the history of the Second Republic, with the worst post-war scores for both the Social Democrats and the People’s Party, and the biggest ever score for the parties of the right, with 29% for the Freedom Party and BZÃ– combined. The BZÃ– took Haider’s Carinthia heartland easily while the SPÃ– gained the “swing province” of Styria – and despite a disappointing election the Greens consolidated their hold on the inner districts of Vienna.
One of the remarkable features of this election cycle in Austria is just how many parties have changed leaders – in fact compared with earlier this summer, Heinz-Christian Strache of the FPÃ– is the only one of the five party leaders still in situ who fought the 2006 election. Before the election, Werner Faymann replaced the hapless Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer at the helm of the SPÃ–, while Jorg Haider took over from Peter Westenthaler as the BZÃ–’s lead candidate.
Following their disastrous showing, the Ã–VP’s Wilhelm Molterer stepped down with Josef PrÃ¶ll taking over, while the set was completed this week with the Greens’ leader Alexander van der Bellen calling it a day, with Eva Glawischnig making the Greens the first of the current major parties with a female leader.
As to the shape of the new government, Faymann has said that he won’t go into government with the parties of the right and is seeking to resurrect another Grand Coalition. Although PrÃ¶ll is thought to be more liberal than his predecessor Molterer, he has been rather vague about what the Ã–VP might want to do, and it doesn’t look as though a decision is going to be made quickly.
The Ã–VP is very much the “hinge party” in forming a new government, having not been in opposition since 1987, and a renewed Grand Coalition, a “black-blue-orange” government with the two parties of the right (if they could put considerable personal differences aside), or even going into opposition, are all on the table. In the latter case, this could lead to an SPÃ– minority government and an even more unstable political future for the country. A couple of articles that may be of interest can be found in the Telegraph and Newsweek.
Canada (14 Oct) background, polls, betting market
Next Sunday – Jack Peterson looks at Canada on its pre-election weekend