Wolfgang Schäuble, Architect of Austerity, Is Out as Germany’s Finance Minister


Wolfgang Schäuble in Estonia earlier this month.

Raigo Pajula/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

FRANKFURT — Wolfgang Schäuble, a dominant figure in German politics who was reviled in countries like Greece for his advocacy of austerity during the eurozone debt crisis, will leave his powerful post as finance minister to become speaker of the German Parliament, his party said on Wednesday.

While the move is ostensibly a promotion, the speaker’s job is in reality less powerful than the cabinet position Mr. Schäuble has occupied since 2009, which gave him more influence than many European heads of government. His departure was prompted by national elections on Sunday in which the Christian Democrats — his party, and that of Chancellor Angela Merkel — came in first but nonetheless lost ground.

Though a staunch advocate of European unity, Mr. Schäuble was widely criticized, and even vilified, for insisting that Greece and other eurozone members make drastic cuts in public spending after markets lost confidence in their ability to pay their debts. Many economists blamed the austerity policies for prolonging the economic agony that Greece continues to suffer.

As the president of the Bundestag, Mr. Schäuble will ostensibly be Germany’s second highest official, just behind the president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and ahead of the Ms. Merkel.

The new position was confirmed by Volker Kauder, chairman of the Christian Democrats’ parliamentary bloc.

Mr. Schäuble, 75, has been a fixture in German politics for more than 40 years, dating to the period when Helmut Kohl was chancellor and Germany was still divided between East and West.

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