Constitutional Crisis Is Building in Germany
June 23, 2012 • 9:49AM

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert has denied it, but heavy rumors have it that she did put pressure on German President Joachim Gauck to sign the treaties on Fiscal Pact and European Stability Mechanism (ESM) immediately after their expected passage in the two houses of parliament on June 29. But the German Constitutional Court has asked Gauck not to sign, but to wait, since the judges need some two or three weeks' time to look into the expected wave of legal complaints, which the judges take seriously. As was the case with the European Financial Stability Fund before, the Court may decide that the Pact and ESM could go into effect for the time being, although an orderly court ruling will come much later. But the Court may also decide to rule in favor of plaintiffs who want to have an injunction to prevent the ESM from going into effect before the court has ruled.

The Vice chairwoman of the Linke party, Sahra Wagenknecht, called for a referendum according to Article 146 of the Germany's constitution yesterday, saying that the government's plans for Fiscal Pact and ESM are a "cold coup against the Basic Law. If the character of the Constitution is changed, that can only occur through a national referendum." She added that in spite of the dirty deal between government coalition and the Social Democrats to have the two laws passed, "chances are not bad for the Constitutional Court to rule against the laws."

In an interview with the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung daily, Klaus-Peter Willsch, a Christian Democratic Union anti-bailout dissident, reiterated his deep concern that keeping the tight timetable for the ratification of the two laws by July 1, was driving Germany only into a profound constitutional crisis. The issue is much too important, he said, to "allow that to be ratified in a haste."