“Obviously it is of utmost importance that the programs we have agreed on with Greece are continued,” she told reporters in Berlin. “The process is a difficult one, but despite that, it should go on.”
Merkel has chided Obama in the past for his stimulus spending, even as the left wing of his party calls for far more to create jobs and drive down unemployment.
But European electorates, who have helped caused the collapse or electoral defeat of a series of governments in recent months, are moving swiftly toward the more pro-growth position that Hollande and others have embraced.
Containing a crisis
Obama’s goal, for the U.S. economy and for his own political welfare, will be to prevent a deepening of the euro-zone debt crisis that has already called into question the future of the economic union.
“Hollande can be the catalyst for a new consensus that is more balanced toward growth than the previous political line,” said Justin Vaisse, director of research for the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.
Vaisse acknowledged that his view that Hollande’s election makes a solution to the euro crisis more likely is “an optimistic take,” adding that “obviously the devil will be in the details.”
He also noted that, even though Hollande is closer than Sarkozy was to Obama’s preferred approach to Europe’s recovery, that may be lost in translation as it becomes part of American campaign politics.
“The flip side is having [Mitt] Romney make the case that now Obama is adopting the ideas of a French socialist,” Vaisse said. “Hollande is indeed a French socialist, and while that is not as bad as it sounds, it is an epithet in this country.”
Others are less certain that Hollande’s election — and Greece’s repudiation of its main political parties — is a hopeful sign.
“This will lead to months of economic uncertainty and turmoil in Europe, which will have a direct impact on the U.S. markets, as well,” said Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation.
“This will reinforce the image in the minds of many Americans that President Obama is a quintessentially European-style politician who has pursued a lot of the same policies that Hollande is now promising to implement in France,” he added.