BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), a possible partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s next government, will not insist on a German successor to ECB President Mario Draghi when his term expires in 2019, a senior FDP member said on Thursday.
Senior German government officials have repeatedly called for a change of course in the European Central Bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy. But Merkel so far has remained silent on the question of who she would like to replace the Italian.
Merkel is trying to form a three-way coalition with the FDP and the Greens after her conservatives lost support in a federal election last month. During the election campaign the FDP sharply criticised the ECB’s extraordinary monetary stimulus.
Asked whether his party would push for a German successor to Draghi, senior FDP member Alexander Lambsdorff told a news conference in Berlin: “It depends on the overall situation, it depends on the candidates.”
“From my point of view, the nationality of the ECB president is less important than the policy which he pursues,” said Lambsdorff, who is seen as a likely finance or foreign minister in Merkel’s next government.
Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann has been touted as a possible Draghi successor. German government officials such as Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert so far have only said that now is not the right time to discuss the position.
Weidmann himself told an Italian broadcaster in a television interview last month that there should be no veto on the ECB’s next boss based on nationality.
His comments followed remarks by Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who recently said it would be a disaster if Weidmann took Draghi’s job.
Draghi has been at the helm of the ECB since November 2011 and his term expires at the end of October 2019. Weidmann, 49, has been president of the German central bank since May 2011. His term ends in April 2019.
German magazine Der Spiegel reported in mid-September that France and Italy had signalled they were open to a German becoming head of the ECB - but not Weidmann, who has often criticised Draghi’s massive bond-buying programme.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Jon Boyle