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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Björn Höcke: extremist demagogue

Björn Höcke, right-wing demagogue and leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Thuringia, is a hugely divisive character in the party. He is known for incendiary speeches to his extremist core in the east, and has been described  as a ‘pin-up figure for the right’;  but in other sections of the party, particularly in … Continue reading Björn Höcke: extremist demagogue

The Alternative for Germany: from eurosceptic beginnings to far-right populism

The Alternative for Germany (AfD), which was founded as a eurosceptic party in 2013, has rapidly evolved into a far-right populist party, positioning itself as the voice of the people against the established elite. It has a powerful nationalist faction, and it has shaken up the political establishment with extremist statements, rejection of the post-war … Continue reading The Alternative for Germany: from eurosceptic beginnings to far-right populism

Corona crisis: political winners and losers

CDU/CSU Union After plummeting to a historic low of 26%  before the corona crisis, the conservative CDU/CSU Union is currently polling on at least 34% (and as high as 38% in one poll) in an extraordinary turnaround. The government’s handling of the crisis is widely supported, with 72% approving. This is true of supporters of … Continue reading Corona crisis: political winners and losers

News Digest 3rd April

Corona crisis The number of infections rose from 47,500 last Friday to around 85,000 this Friday. The government scientific institute, the Robert Koch Insititute, predicted that the number of deaths (currently at around 1,100) would continue to rise. Many states introduced harsh fines for people disobeying the social distancing restrictions this week. The fines are … Continue reading News Digest 3rd April

Parliamentary Digest 3rd April

Sitting days and agenda The next sitting week for the Bundestag is planned to be 20th - 24th April; the week that schools are supposed to return after the Easter holidays (but may not, due to the corona crisis). Information about what is happening in the Bundestag on a daily basis (including in committees and … Continue reading Parliamentary Digest 3rd April

News Digest 27th March

Corona virus: 'the calm before the storm' The week started with over 26,000 corona infections recorded on Monday morning. By Friday morning, the number had hit 47,278, with 281 deaths. This rise in infections partly reflects the huge amount of testing being carried out in Germany. Angela Merkel said that the number of people infected … Continue reading News Digest 27th March

News Digest 13th March

Corona virus Concern about the virus accelerated this week, with the government moving into the delay phase of response. On the same day that WHO declared a worldwide pandemic, Chancellor Merkel announced that 60%-70% of the German population could get the virus. By Friday, the number of confirmed cases had hit 3,000, with thousands more … Continue reading News Digest 13th March

Fragmentation of the political landscape: the decline of the giants

Germany's political landscape is fragmenting. The country's two former giants - the conservative CDU/CSU Union and the social democratic SPD - are in decline. The Volksparteien - people's parties - once represented the vast majority of voters in Germany, sometimes winning over 40% of the vote each in federal elections; according to the latest polls, … Continue reading Fragmentation of the political landscape: the decline of the giants

Alexander Gauland: pushing the boundaries ever rightwards

Alexander Gauland is the joint leader of the parliamentary group of the far-right populist party, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).  Until November 2019, when he stepped down in favour of Tino Chrupulla,  he was also joint leader of the national party. He has had a seat in the Bundestag since 2017, the year the AfD … Continue reading Alexander Gauland: pushing the boundaries ever rightwards

Jörg Meuthen: far-right Professor

In 2015, Jörg Meuthen became joint leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) with Frauke Petry  and remains as  joint leader now with Tino Chrupulla. In the early days of the AfD, Meuthen presented as a moderate; by 2019, however, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was concerned about his' aggressive xenophobic rhetoric.'  … Continue reading Jörg Meuthen: far-right Professor

News Digest 6th March

Corona virus On Monday, it was confirmed that 10 of Germany's 16 states now had cases of the virus, totalling around 130 in all. Some large public gatherings, including international trade fairs, were cancelled or delayed, as were some flights. People started to stock up on longlife foods and other products such as toilet paper, … Continue reading News Digest 6th March

News Digest 28th February

Hamburg election Some rare good news for the SPD came on Sunday, as the party won the election in Hamburg with 39.2%. The Greens came second with 24.2% and the CDU vote sank by nearly 5% to 11.2%. Early indications were that the AfD would fail to pass the 5% minimum to be elected to … Continue reading News Digest 28th February

News Digest 21st February

Right-wing extremism: hatred, racism and violence raise fears inside Germany and abroad On Monday, police arrested a group of right-extremists, who had been planning to carry out a series of attacks on mosques in order to provoke a civil war. In the wake of the arrests, the Deutsche Welle interviewed Abdassamad El Yazidi, the General … Continue reading News Digest 21st February