With the debate ahead of the Bundestag vote on approving the second bailout package for Greece due to get underway in 30 min or so (as ever we will be covering the event live on our twitter page @openeurope), Germany's biggest selling tabloid, Bild Zeitung, has upped the ante calling on MPs to vote against the package.
Under the brilliantly simple headline "STOP" (see picture above), Bild writes:
"Once again, it's payday in the Bundestag. €130 billion are meant to save Greece from ruin. Bild appeals to all MPs, do not proceed with this folly!"The entire page 2 of the paper then features a range of interviews with economists, such as the German Guru Hans-Werner Sinn, explaining why Greece is a "bottomless pit" and why it "can't stand on its own two feet even with this bailout". The Chief Economist of Deutsche Bank, Thomas Mayer, says that a euro exit should not be "taboo" anymore.
It's pretty strong stuff.
Remember, as we've pointed out before, Bild is a huge paper - by far the best selling paper in Germany (far bigger than the Sun for example) and according to some measures, the paper with the widest circulation outside Japan.
In other words, it has a lot of political clout and serves as an important barometer of public opinion, which you mess with it at your peril. A poll in Bild Am Sonntag also showed that 62% of Germans are against the second Greek bailout (up from 53% in September).
But how many MPs, not including those who were already going to vote against, will be swayed? Given that the opposition SDP and Green party will back the government there is virtually no chance of the bailout being rejected, so the issue is how many coalition MPs will rebel, and whether it will be more than the 15 who voted against the expansion of the EFSF back in September.
If Merkel is unable to rely solely on her MPs to pass through the bailout, it will have serious repercussions for the continued viability of the government...