Parliamentary Digest 9th October

A round up of what’s going on in the Bundestag, Bundesrat and state parliaments Questions to the government: Foreign Office On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas answered questions in the Bundestag, many of which focused on Russia and the Navalny poisoning. He said that the International Agency for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had … Continue reading Parliamentary Digest 9th October

News Digest 9th October

The UK: a populist, rogue state? Several media outlets this week focused on Boris Johnson's handling of Brexit and the corona pandemic. The Welt quoted a speech from Lord Neuberger, former chairman of the UK Supreme Court, who criticized Johnson's Single Market Act for not only giving the government power to breach contracts, but also … Continue reading News Digest 9th October

Parliamentary Digest 2nd October: Budget week and 30 years of German unity

This week was the budget debate week, with 4 days of debate in the Bundestag. Saturday was also the 30th anniversary of German reunification. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) introduced the budget for 2021 on Tuesday and there was a general debate. This was followed by debates by department over the next three days, as … Continue reading Parliamentary Digest 2nd October: Budget week and 30 years of German unity

Parliamentary Digest 11th September

A round up of what's going on in the Bundestag, Bundesrat and state parliaments The Bundestag returned after the summer break this week, while some of the state parliaments either had plenary sittings or committee hearings. Right-extremism and hate crime On Wednesday, the first sitting day of the plenary, the Bundestag honoured the police … Continue reading Parliamentary Digest 11th September

News Digest 11th September

Brexit and the spätimperialistischer Oxfordschnösel Johnson As the prospect of a no-deal Brexit draws nearer, German media outlets have focused on Boris Johnson's threats and negotiating tactics. The Süddeutsche Zeitung commented that, "Basically, the more Johnson is under pressure, the more intense the attacks on Brussels. The attacks are usually brought by newspapers which are … Continue reading News Digest 11th September

News Digest 4th September

Right-extremists and the limits of free societies On Saturday, an estimated 38,000 people, including those protesting the corona restrictions, anti-vaxxers, Putin supporters, the far left and members of extreme right groups, such as the anti-state Reichsbürger and neo-Nazis, demonstrated in Berlin. The demonstration was organised by "Querdenken 711" (Lateral Thinking 711). Speakers included the nephew … Continue reading News Digest 4th September

Hubertus Heil: stamping an SPD identity on the coalition government

Since the SPD's historically low vote of 20.5% in the 2017 election, the party has been struggling to re-establish a clear identity and to communicate what it stands for in the 21st century. One of the party's 'hope-bearers' - a politician in whom hope for the future is placed - is Employment Minister, Hubertus Heil. … Continue reading Hubertus Heil: stamping an SPD identity on the coalition government

The Federal States: political profiles

The Federal Republic of Germany has 16 states - the Bundesländer. The five East German states - Brandenburg,  Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia (as well as east Berlin) - were incorporated into the Federal Republic in 1990 with German reunification. Federalism means that each state has its own parliament and government and is responsible for … Continue reading The Federal States: political profiles

Political parties in the Bundestag

The 2017 election saw a drop in support for the government coalition partners, the CDU/CSU Union (minus 65 seats) and the SPD (minus 40), while the far-right populists, the Alternative for Germany, entered the Bundestag for the first time with 94 seats. The FDP, which had failed to meet the 5% hurdle in 2013, re-entered … Continue reading Political parties in the Bundestag

SPD Chancellor candidate Scholz: reactions in Germany

In a surprise move this week, Germany's Social Democratic Party, the SPD, got well ahead of the game by announcing that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz will be the party's Chancellor candidate in next year's election. Although there has long been speculation about Scholz's nomination, the choice of candidate has been fiercely disputed in the party. … Continue reading SPD Chancellor candidate Scholz: reactions in Germany

The FDP: traditional liberals or ‘subdued populists’?

Coalition partners for much of the Federal Republic's history, Germany's Liberals, the FDP, have sailed through rocky waters in the last decade. After a low point in 2013, when the party failed to win enough votes to enter the Bundestag, the FDP bounced back to win 80 seats in 2017. Following the election, Angela Merkel … Continue reading The FDP: traditional liberals or ‘subdued populists’?

Manuela Schwesig: leading the SPD fight-back in the east

Manuela Schwesig, SPD Minister President of the east German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,  who is charged with spearheading  the mammoth task of reversing the SPD’s collapse in the east of the country, is like Franziska Giffey, one of the SPD’s ‘hope-bearers.' Foto: Thomas Fries / Lizenz: cc-by-sa-3.0 de Following the resignation of leader Andrea Nahes in June 2019, Schwesig was … Continue reading Manuela Schwesig: leading the SPD fight-back in the east

Franziska Giffey: SPD hope-bearer

Franziska Giffey, the coalition government's SPD Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, has risen through the party ranks quickly and is now not only being talked of as the next Mayor of Berlin, but also as a possible SPD Chancellor candidate one day. As the newspaper taz wrote, "Giffey's almost meteoric rise … Continue reading Franziska Giffey: SPD hope-bearer

30 years after reunification: are the east and west growing apart?

This October will see the 30th anniversary of German reunification. Three decades after the eastern states joined the Federal Republic, a majority of Germans agree that reunification has been positive. Yet differences between the 'old' west German states and the 'new' east German states persist - not only do gaps in income and living standards … Continue reading 30 years after reunification: are the east and west growing apart?

News Digest 24th July

EU Summit The first EU summit of Germany's Presidency was a tough five day affair - the second longest summit ever. The EU countries met to agree the budget for the next seven years: the planned corona recovery program of 750 billion euros was to be added to the budget, taking the figure to … Continue reading News Digest 24th July

News Digest 17th July

The K question and the CDU leadership As discussed in the News Digest last week, in the coming months the parties will be choosing their Chancellor candidates for the federal election next year and the CDU is also due to elect its new leader in December. In February, the current CDU chair Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced … Continue reading News Digest 17th July

The Federal Cabinet

The 24th Federal Cabinet, formed in March 2018 following the coalition negotiations after the 2017 election, is composed of 16 politicians - 6 from the CDU, 3 from the CSU and 6 from the SPD. Of these, 9 are men and 7 women. Only two ministers (Merkel and Giffey) come from East German states. The … Continue reading The Federal Cabinet

Political glossary

Amendments (Änderungsanträge) Amendments to bills which have the support of at least 5% of members can be tabled by individual MPs or a parliamentary group. Basic Law (Grundgesetz) The Basic Law is the constitution of the Federal Republic, which came into force in May 1949. Any changes in the Basic law require a two thirds … Continue reading Political glossary

News Digest 10th July

EU presidency On Wednesday, Angela Merkel gave a speech to the EU parliament in Brussels setting out the programme for the German Presidency of the EU. Merkel spoke twice as long as the allotted time without having her microphone turned off after 10 minutes, as is usual practice - the Welt commented, "Merkel is Merkel … Continue reading News Digest 10th July

News Digest 3rd July

European Presidency Germany's Presidency of the European Union started this week and will have European recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic as a central theme. The EU is planning a 750 billion euro grant and loan rescue plan. However there are deep divisions in Europe about the size and scope of the rescue … Continue reading News Digest 3rd July

Parliamentary Digest 3rd July

A round up of what's going on in the Bundestag, Bundesrat and state parliaments This week was the last sitting week for Parliament before the summer break; a host of very significant laws were passed in both Houses. Economic Stimulus Programme The government has announced a 130 billion euro economic stimulus programme to help the … Continue reading Parliamentary Digest 3rd July

Parliamentary Digest 29th May

A round up of what's going on in the Bundestag, Bundesrat and state parliaments Sectors in trouble: aid demanded Post-corona theatre seating = lower sales The Culture and Media Committee heard that cultural organisers in Germany are facing a "disastrous" situation due to the corona pandemic, with sales losses of up to 80 % … Continue reading Parliamentary Digest 29th May

News Digest 29th May

As the number of active corona cases continued to decline, the agenda shifted this week to post-corona recovery; but the debate about lifting restrictions continued, with some significant differences between states. Meanwhile the civil war in the Alternative for Germany intensified, and the Foreign Office requested an interview with the Russian ambassador over the hacking … Continue reading News Digest 29th May

Germany’s right-extremism problem

In mid May, a new Cabinet Committee met in Berlin: the committee against right-wing extremism and racism. The aim of the committee is to "develop an effective package of measures that will work in the long term to create a society free of right-wing extremism and accordance with the values of the constitution." The … Continue reading Germany’s right-extremism problem

News Digest 22nd May

The Union continues to dominate in corona times Polls this week showed the CDU/CSU Union maintaining its strong lead over the other parties, albeit with a small fall in support: an ARD poll showed a slight drop for the Union from last week - to 38% - while the Greens stayed on 18% and the … Continue reading News Digest 22nd May