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German Election 23rd September

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German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Tue 10 Sep - 0:09

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/sep/02/angela-merkel-greek-austerity-leadership-debate-video

This is a video of a debate between Angela Merkel and one of her rivals ....interesting.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Sat 14 Sep - 1:16



Merkel Warns Against German Tax Rises as Euro Crisis Not Over

By Arne Delfs & Rainer Buergin - Sep 13, 2013 11:00 PM GMT+01

..



German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’s opposed to any tax rise for Europe’s biggest economy as the 17-nation euro bloc remains in crisis.

“If the first thing we do is raise taxes for those who are successful, then it could be they won’t want to create any more jobs,” Merkel said at an election rally of her Christian Democrats in the western city of Osnabrueck yesterday. “Therefore, tax increases are wrong.”

Merkel is stepping up attacks on opposition Social Democratic challenger Peer Steinbrueck who’s calling for tax increases. Eight days before the Sept. 22 elections, polls show Merkel’s lead over the SPD holding and Germany’s first woman chancellor within grasp of a repeat of her current coalition with the Free Democratic Party.

“The euro crisis isn’t over but I see the first small green shoots giving us hope,” Merkel said, repeating her “nein” to a debt redemption fund to assist indebted euro nations.

Steinbrueck, speaking in an ARD television town-hall style interview on Sept. 11, defended his party’s plan to expand taxes on the wealthy to fund Germany’s “dilapidated” infrastructure and local governments. The SPD plans to raise the top income tax rate to 49 percent from 45 percent.

Support for Merkel’s Christian Union bloc dropped one percentage point from a week earlier to 40 percent in an FG Wahlen poll yesterday for ZDF television. Together with its pro-business FDP coalition partner, which held at 6 percent, there would be enough for Merkel to continue her government for four more years if the result is replicated on Election Day.

Greens Gain

The SPD was unchanged at 26 percent and their Green party allies gained a point to 11 percent. The anti-capitalist Left Party was unchanged at 8 percent. Steinbrueck and SPD leaders have vowed not to form a coalition with the Left, the successor to former East Germany’s communists, which calls for nationalizing large banks, imposing an annual wealth tax and scrapping NATO.

The anti-euro Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, rose one point to 4 percent support -- below the 5 percent threshold need to wins seats in the Bundestag under German election law.

The survey of 1,298 voters was taken Sept. 10-12. No margin of error was given.

Even if Merkel fails to win a repeat of her current coalition with the FDP and resorts to a repeat of the grand coalition with the SPD she had from 2005 to 2009, the result would be political continuity, Citigroup analysts led by Alessandro Tentori wrote in a client note.

Periphery bond spreads could see volatility in a left coalition of SPD, the Greens and the Left Party, which is unlikely, Citigroup said.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Sat 14 Sep - 8:45






Germany's Bismarck temptation and secret pacts with Russia




By Ambrose Evans-PritchardEconomicsLast updated: September 13th, 2013

296 CommentsComment on this article




Germany's euro break-up party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has unveiled its foreign policy. It is pure Bismarck.

"Germany and Europe have no interest in a further weakening of Russia," said Alexander Gauland, AfD's foreign affairs chief. "Germany's relations with Russia should be managed with meticulous care."

What they say is no longer an academic question. The party is rising fast in the polls and may break through the 5pc barrier to take seats in the Bundestag, scrambling a close election.

AfD openly evokes the "Rückversicherungsvertrag", the secret "Reinsurance Treaty" between the Kaiser's Germany and Tsarist Russia in 1887. (As reported by Die Welt)

The terms were that the Germany would remain neutral if Russia were attacked by the Austro-Hungarian empire over disputes in the Balkans.

In return, Russia would remain neutral if Germany were attacked by a revanchist France determined to take back Alsace-Lorraine. It was Otto von Bismarck's guarantee – later dropped by the Kaiser Wilhelm II – that Germany would not have to fight a war on two fronts.

Dr Gauland, a former state secretary for the Christian Democrats, said it is time to accommodate Kremlin "sensitivities" and treat the wounded Russian bear with more caution. He explicitly proposed that "elements of Bismarck's reinsurance policy towards Russia should be maintained.

"The Germans sometimes forget that Russia played a positive role at key moments of German history, saving Prussia from destruction. It happened in 1763, 1806/1807, 1813, in Bismarck's unification of the Reich in 1866/1870, and in German reunification in 1990/1991."

To cite German reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union as an example of Russian friendship is eccentric. But he goes further, saying Poland should not have been let into Nato and that Russia's loss of "Holy Kiev" was an unthinkable injury comparable to the loss of Aachen or Cologne for Germany. That sent shivers down my spine. Let us hope that AfD is not inviting Russia to retake Ukraine, as it retook northern Georgia in 2008.

[Addendum: I have just spoken to Dr Gauland after writing this blog. He was charming and assured me that there is no question of handing Ukraine back to Russia, or ever again allowing German and Russian spheres of influence in Poland.

"The right of self-determination of the Ukrainian people must be upheld. All I am saying is that we must try to understand what makes Russia tick, and why it reacts to things. That is the essence of Bismarck's policy," he said.

He also said he was a "great friend" of the United Kingdom. "It would be a catastrophe if Britain left the EU because it would be taken over by the French bureaucracy. I really hope this does not happen."]

The party said Germany should cast off its post-war guilt complex. "We Germans tend to look back at the Hitler years and view the pursuit of the national interest as something bad. This is not an outlook shared by our friends and neighbours, or by other players on the world stage."

Personally, I have long argued that Germany should do exactly that, acting confidently as a full and respected member of the free world. The country has a vibrant democracy. It has exemplary institutions, and the only supreme court in Europe that seems too willing to defend the rights of all EU citizens.

My assumption was that Germans would be splendid ally, and friend of Britain, as it might have been in the 20th century in other circumstances. However, I am surprised at where this is taking us. It is reminder to Euro-sceptics (like me) that you should be careful what you wish for, that once you uncork all this tribalism and nationalist nostalgia bubbling away beneath the surface, the outpouring could take ominous directions. We may swap the EU Leviathan, for a dangerous and fragmented Europe.

Needless to say, I blame the EU elites for pushing matters to a point where these sorts of rebellions are springing up across the EU. Had they not ratcheted up their encroachments with one treaty after another, and had they not disregarded the French and Dutch "No" votes to the European Constitution, and then the Irish "No" to Nice in the only country allowed a vote, and had they not launched the deflationary death trap of monetary union, these revolts would not be happening. But they are happening, and we have to be rigorously honest about the risks.

AfD pays lip-service to the Nato alliance, insisting that it wishes to retain the US as the anchor of the Western security system, even it as it talks of finding a middle way between the US and Russia. This is eyewash. You cannot pick and choose, opting in and out of western security as takes your fancy. The whole order will unravel if key countries behave in this fashion.

A cynic would say that Mr Gauland is merely articulating openly what is already the foreign Ostpolitik of Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel. The country refused to back its French and British allies in the UN Security Council over Libya; it refused to join France, Britain, Spain, and Italy in signing the G20 accord denouncing the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria.

It curries favour with Russia and China at the expense of EU partners on one issue after another, undercutting the European Commission when its own trade interests are at stake. It is a "semi-detached" member of the European Union already, more so than Britain these days in foreign policy.

AfD's main plank, of course, is German withdrawal from the euro, and it is making waves in the final days of the campaign. It has jumped from 2pc to 3pc, and now suddenly 4pc, within striking distance of the Bundestag.

As with Ukip, the Dansk Folkeparti, or Geert Wilders' Freedom Party, or Marine Le Pen's Front National, the polls understate true support because people disguise their intentions. The great unknown is how many.

If AfD breaks through – and if it does so at the expense of the Mrs Merkel's Free Democrat allies (FDP) – the outcome could be dramatic. The dullest election of modern times is starting to catch fire.

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Moodys upgrades Gernman Banks

Post  Panda on Sun 15 Sep - 7:00

Banking

Moody's ratings agency upgrades German banks

Ratings agency Moody’s has changed its view of the German banking sector, no longer considering its creditworthiness to be negative. The change was due to banks’ improving financial strength amid a growing economy.




The outlook for the German banking system had been changed from negative to stable, international ratings agency Moody's said in a report released on Friday.

“The outlook change reflects that, following a year of reduced crisis-related losses and improved capital strength, German banks are now more able to withstand shocks,” the report said.

Moreover, the country's financial institutions were operating in a business environment that was largely stable as a result of an improving German economy and benign lending conditions.
















Commerzbank plans major lay-offs

In 2008, Moody's cut the creditworthiness of Germany's banking sector to negative amid the turmoil in financial markets caused by the financial crisis. The move came as a number of major German lenders, including the country's second-biggest bank, Commerzbank, had to be bailed out with state money.

Since then, German financial institutions had been able to strengthen their capital buffers on the back of higher capital requirements, a reduction in high-risk assets and better refinancing structures, Moody noted.

The agency said it expected the banks' balance sheets to further improve due to the positive economic development in Germany.

uhe/pfd (dpa, AFP)


DW.DE




Deutsche Bank reflects on values as profits drop

Deutsche Bank halved its earnings in the second quarter of 2013. While Germany's biggest bank is still struggling with the financial crisis and legal problems, a corporate culture change is supposed to help. (30.07.2013)

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Mon 16 Sep - 7:48

Angela Merkel given election lift from big win in Bavarian poll
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative allies triumphed in Bavaria’s state election Sunday, a week before the whole country votes, though a painful setback for her coalition partners added to uncertainty over the outcome of the national election.

Angela Merkel hosts the awards ceremony for the Young Researchers competition in Berlin (AP)
AFP
1:09AM BST 16 Sep 2013
Comment
The Merkel-allied Christian Social Union, traditionally the dominant force in the prosperous southern region, won 47.7 per cent of the vote, official results showed. It won back a majority in the state legislature it humiliatingly lost in 2008, gaining more than four percentage points.

“This election gives us tailwind for the national election,” said Hermann Groehe, the general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. But, he warned, “it is of course clear that the national election hasn’t yet been decided.”

Merkel’s national governing partners, the pro-market Free Democrats, won only 3.3 per cent of the vote Sunday, losing more than half their support and all their seats in the legislature in Munich.

That’s a concern for Merkel as she seeks a parliamentary majority for her current centre-right coalition in next Sunday’s election. She is heavily favoured to win a third term, but her chances of continuing to govern with the Free Democrats – her partners of choice – look less rosy.

Germany’s main opposition party, the Social Democrats of Merkel challenger Peer Steinbrueck, finished a distant second in Bavaria with 20.6 per cent. That was two percentage points better than the post-World War II low they hit five years ago, but too little to give them any hope of unseating the conservatives or much national momentum.

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And their allies, the Greens, slipped to a disappointing 8.6 per cent.

“This is a great election success,” Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer, the CSU leader, told supporters in Munich. The CSU has led Bavaria since 1957, most of that time with an absolute majority.

“With this, the year 2008 is history,” Seehofer said. “We’re back.”

In Berlin, a sombre Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler, the Free Democrats’ leader, sought to rally his party – which governed Bavaria with Seehofer for the past five years. It’s also weak in national polls, hovering around the 5 per cent needed to keep its seats in the national Parliament.

“We all know that things are different in Bavaria – and from now on, it’s all about Germany,” Roesler said. “And this result is a wake-up call.”

Challenger Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats pointed to the positive, citing their modest gains in a state where they usually struggle and vowing to step up their own national campaign.

Steinbrueck said Sunday’s election added to a string of votes in which voters have failed to endorse a conservative-Free Democrat coalition – “and prospects are good for that being the case at federal level in a week’s time.”

Merkel, who has campaigned hard against her centre-left opponents’ plans for tax increases, has benefited in the national campaign from Germany’s strong economy and low unemployment.

That’s even more of an advantage in Bavaria, the tradition-minded homeland of retired Pope Benedict XVI and also a hi-tech and industrial centre, where nearly 9.5 million people were eligible to vote. Its jobless rate is just 3.8 per cent, the lowest of any German state and well below the national average of 6.8 per cent.

Still, the Free Democrats’ weakness may be a problem for Merkel. Sunday’s outcome opens up the possibility of Merkel supporters switching their votes to the smaller party to ensure it tops 5 per cent in the national election, which would weaken her conservatives.

“Those who want Angela Merkel must vote for Angela Merkel,” Armin Laschet, a deputy leader of the chancellor’s party, told ARD television. The Free Democrats “will make it,” he added.

The smaller party has been a fixture in post-World War II Germany’s national Parliament but isn’t traditionally strong in Bavaria.

National polls show Merkel’s conservative bloc of her CDU and the Bavaria-only CSU leading the pack.

However, they show her current centre-right coalition roughly level with the combined opposition, and holding an advantage of about 10 points over Steinbrueck’s over hoped-for alliance of his Social Democrats and the Greens.

That suggests Merkel may need to form a new coalition, perhaps a “grand coalition” with the Social Democrats – the combination with which she ran Germany from 2005-9.

In Bavaria, a centre-right party that’s strong locally but not nationally, the Free Voters, took 9 per cent of the vote. A new anti-euro party that is running in the national election, Alternative for Germany, didn’t field candidates on Sunday.

Edited by Steve Wilson

Telegraph 16/9/2013

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Mon 16 Sep - 17:03


Steady hands versus one-finger salute



16 September 2013
Der Spiegel Hamburg

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Chancellor Angela Merkel and her rival for the leadership, Peer Steinbrück, let their hands do the talking


By brandishing what the Germans call the “stink-finger”, candidate for the Chancellory Peer Steinbrück has marked off his territory from that of the calm and self-controlled Angela Merkel.

Annett Meiritz

Now he's got a trademark. One that quickly stands out, that works without words, that everyone knows. Whether Peer Steinbrück did himself a favour with his “stink-finger” (middle finger) pose remains to be seen. One thing he did achieve, though: very close to the federal election day, is to become the number-one talked-about topic, complete with a magazine cover that has split the Republic.

For a long time now Angela Merkel has been associated with a special gesture: a peculiar knotting of her fingers while standing. The "Merkel diamond" was once ridiculed, but her election campaign strategists are now splashing it on huge billboards and hooded sweaters to get across the image they’re after: Merkel the Sound, the Straightforward, the Reliable.

His finger is therefore to be understood as a statement: with it, he cements the distinction between himself and the controlled, demure Chancellor

In comparison, Steinbrück’s stink-finger is pure confrontation. The photo was taken a few weeks ago, but the candidate for the Chancellery knew that it would be coming out now. His finger is therefore to be understood as a statement: with it, he cements the distinction between himself and the controlled, demure Chancellor. And he makes it clearer than ever how differently the rivals present themselves in the final dash to the federal election.

1. What’s behind the diamond and the middle finger

Lately the Chancellor has been using her diamond only rarely. The gesture itself became a fixture long ago, without regular exposure. Merkel plays down the importance of how she holds her hands: "It has a certain symmetry," she once said. When blown up on a facade to the scale of a tennis court, though, her hands do not seem quite so symmetrical.

Steinbrück’s middle-finger motif is not suitable for billboard exposure. It ought to provide the one-time bang! effect, which will reverberate for a while. The photo has raised a fundamental debate about how smoothly politicians should be ironed out and just where the border is crossed into bad taste. For some, the pose is an act of liberation; for others, it breaks a taboo.

For undecided voters, how they vote on September 22 will come down to a gut feeling. Gestures are remembered. Complex lines of argument over the pension issue are not

That half of Germany is debating a middle finger or that pranksters have nothing better to do than to tinker on parodies of the "Merkel diamond" on the Internet could cause some head-shaking. But the power of images should not be underestimated. When topics and positions are being bandied about in duels and public arenas, symbolism enters the game. For undecided voters, how they vote on September 22 will come down to a gut feeling. Gestures are remembered. Complex lines of argument over the pension issue are not.

2. How Steinbrück and Merkel want to come across

In the final phase of the election campaign, the SPD is relying on a poster in the style of Obama, with a smiling Steinbrück in a sea of humanity waving red flags. On Facebook, his team is posting tons of close-up photos of the candidate for Chancellor. There’s Steinbrück with a kebab skewer, Steinbrück with a fluttering dove of peace, Steinbrück with a sun hat out for a walk. On the website of the SPD, he poses, blissfully smiling, in a group of women.

The CDU is banking it all on their leading lady, who very rarely strays from her role. A snapshot from the election campaign, published by a regional newspaper on the Internet, shows the Chancellor in a mischievous boxing pose. Such frivolity is the exception, though: the Chancellor is playing it safe.

Plain-speaking against the “consensus Chancellor” is the strategy the SPD is pursuing. When Merkel says, "Some wages are simply not right", Steinbrück says, “As Chancellor I will immediately introduce a statutory minimum wage of €8.50."

Tranquility up against thundering fulmination: "The right thing is not always what is demanded the most loudly," says the Chancellor in the election advertisement of the CDU. Steinbrück’s strategists have fished out a sentence from a spring interview and dropped it back into the campaign: "I say what I think, and I do what I say."

4. Conclusion: Both have a problem putting themselves across

Merkel isn’t putting anyone off with her We-must-look-into-the-details formulae. In the aesthetics of her election campaign, she hugs the comfort zone, never taking a risk. This total control can be difficult, though, to keep up all the way. If her opinion is asked, for example on gay marriage, she stumbles – live and visible to everyone.

The numerous I-will-do-this-and-I will-do-that claims by Steinbrück come across as excessive. Even if he could pull off an election win, a government is not a solo event. The "stink-finger" pose also shows that Steinbrück cannot decide who he wants to be. He has built up some sympathy recently, on posters, at lecterns, in front of the cameras, and the aggro-stare and his middle finger do not fit into this charm offensive at all. Many voters will likely be left perplexed.

Translated from the German by Anton Baer

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Tue 17 Sep - 10:31

By Emma Wall
12:29PM BST 12 Apr 2013
39 Comments
Investors can be forgiven for feeling jittery about the eurozone again, after George Soros, America's most successful investors suggested the economy in Germany could be pulled under by the crisis.

Mr Soros is best known for being the man who 'broke the Bank of England' by betting against the pound during 1992 sterling crash.

Now he is predicting similar problems for Germany. "Germany itself remains relatively unaffected by the deepening depression that is enveloping the eurozone," he said. "I expect, however, that by the time of the elections, Germany will also be in recession."

Is this the beginning of the end for the eurozone? Should investors cut their losses and run? Or could another period of instability provide rich picking. After all despite the debt crisis European stock market outperformed many other Western markets last year.

This week's briefing assess what happened in this troubled region, and looks at option for investors now.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Wed 18 Sep - 17:22


Dogsbodies for prosperity



18 September 2013
Le Monde Paris

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In the Danish Crown abbatoir in Essen, Lower Saxony.
Danish Crown

In Lower Saxony, in the “fat belt” of Germany, working conditions in the meat industry illustrate the less than shiny side of the success of the country. At the centre of the debate is whether to bring in a minimum wage: a long standing Social Democratic Party demand, which is now being discussed by Angela Merkel’s CDU. Excerpts.

Claire Gatinois

The reason that induced Stefan Petrut to leave Romania to come to work in Germany was simple: “Money”. The thick-set man with a compact build, who shows little sign of having worked for 30 years on the meat-cutting chain in slaughterhouses, makes no secret of it. Money was seriously short in Buzau, his hometown 100 km from Bucharest.

Then, in 2008, his friend Nicolai told him about slaughterhouse work in Lower Saxony, in Essen-Oldenburg, which paid 1,600 euros a month. “I said yes, I’ll be there”. A few days later, Stefan, forty-six years old at the time, left behind a grown son but took along his wife, Luminata, a seamstress. She left behind her needle work to become a meat cutter. From four o’clock in the afternoon until two o'clock in the morning, breaks included. It was a nice change of fortune.

At the beginning, everything went well – apart from the bare apartment in a brick house in Quakenbrück, ten kilometres from the slaughterhouse, where Stefan and Luminata lived with two other couples. A single bathroom. A toilet shared by all of them. And all this for 175 euros a month per person, paid to the “patron”. The same man who ran the slaughterhouse.

Exploitation

After a few months, though, the company changed the system. In place of a fixed salary, Stefan and his wife were now paid by the piece: 1.31 cents (€0.0131) per pig cut by him, 0.98 cents to her. Solid and used to the exercise, Stefan could handle 700 animals per hour, which brought his wage up to a little over €9 an hour. But Luminata did not have the same tempo. Worse, after a few days the pigs stopped arriving. Danish Crown, a large meat packer that bought the cuts from the slaughterhouse where Stefan worked, was looking for a cheaper subcontractor.

“The more pigs, the more money”, sums up Stefan in the French he learned at school. After the change, he and his wife had to get by on just €500 per month. Then, nothing: the slaughterhouse went bankrupt. They were let go without the over € 5,000 that they are still owed.

In Lower Saxony, the case of these Romanians is just one example of the exploitation of foreign workers, who have little awareness of their rights and are often kept deliberately in the dark. For a year now the local press has been echoing more or less sordid stories from the “fat belt” of Germany, the European meat-export champion.

a miserable wage that sometimes verges on two to three euros per hour

Over the years, the “invited” nationalities have moved on, but the scenario remains the same: a miserable wage that sometimes verges on two to three euros per hour and indecent housing conditions. “A few weeks ago I was contacted by a Spaniard working in a poultry abattoir who had not been paid. I found out that he and 70 other Spaniards were living in 180 square metres of space in a disused restaurant”, says Matthias Brümmer, regional manager of the NGG food workers’ union.

Unemployment “as low as the daisies”

These industrialists like to boast that they treat animals properly, but they treat their employees like beasts of the field.

“There are no Greeks around any more. But the industry always looks for what it wants where poverty is the greatest,” he says in disgust. “These industrialists like to boast that they treat animals properly, but they treat their employees like beasts of the field.”

In Germany, there is no minimum wage in the meat sector. In addition, under the government of Gerhard Schröder (SPD), a clause was introduced allowing a German employer to “rent” the workforce of a foreign firm – Romanian or Bulgarian, for example. Within this framework, employees are subject to the labour laws of their country of origin, which is often the lowest bidder. By allowing manufacturers to use cheap labour, Lower Saxony has become a magnet to the meat-packing multinationals. Danish Crown, the Dutch firm of Vion have all moved in on the action, joining the German firms of Tönnies, Westfleisch and others.

The result is that, in this agricultural region, unemployment is “as low as the daisies” (6.5 per cent in August according to the employment agency), and despite automation, the industry still employs 142,000 workers – or more than 200,000 when counting these “rented” workers, says Mr. Brummer. “If Germany were to stop producing meat today, Europe would be hit by famine!”, he jokes.

For him and for many Germans, this result is in no way a glowing success. “I’m ashamed. When I travel abroad and I get asked about this subject, I can’t justify it,” says Alexander Herzog-Stein, a specialist in the employment market with the IMK Institute, which is close to the unions…. After the meat industry, the fight will be on for workers in hotels, in the catering business, and for boys who work as hairdressers, whose salaries, he says, are around €2 to €3 per hour.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Wed 18 Sep - 17:32


2013 German Elections : Elusive Germany



17 September 2013
La Repubblica Rome

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Beppe Giacobbe

A hegemonic power, but one which, in view of its past, is fearful of the idea of its dominance. Willing, but cautious to the point of neurasthenia. On the eve of elections in the Federal Republic, difficulties in understanding Germany have contributed to an abundance of platitudes and evasive definitions of the country circulated by its neighbours.

Barbara Spinelli

They are attempts to conduct a psychological analysis of an obvious and pervasive power, one that Berlin is careful to keep hidden, which other capitals in the Union are unable to counter. All of Europe, which has been fed on these stereotypes since the outbreak of the crisis, is passively awaiting the outcome of this month’s vote. The renewal of the German parliament on September 22 will take place just a few months before European elections at the end of May. And within the Union, it is seen as the first act of a drama that concerns the continent, and which has as its protagonist a sick democracy in Europe

Amid the welter of clichés, the prospect of this drama has led to the invention of another narrative in Germany. The tale tells of a Germany – still the "pale mother" of Brecht’s poem – that is tired of being the object of "scorn and fear" among nations. Lucid in her judgements and devoted to the cause of Europe, this Germany is hampered by the nationalism of her neighbours, led by France. In the pages of The Guardian, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble corroborated this imaginary tale: "We do not want a German Europe. We are not asking others to be like us." However, the Germans are very strong-willed, much more than they would like to admit. Wolfgang Schäuble urges his partners to avoid recourse to national stereotypes, but his reasoning, his downplaying [of Germany’s role], have also become stereotypes. The passive wait for the vote in Germany is confirmation of a hegemonic power that is deemed to be unchanging, and inescapable: just like the austerity policies that the sole voice of Berlin has imposed on all of the nations of the Union.

The most lucid analysis of this state of affairs has been put forward by German intellectuals – the philosophers Jürgen Habermas and Ulrich Beck, writer Robert Menasse, and former minister of foreign affairs Joschka Fischer. Since the onset of the crisis, they have deplored the nationalist regression of their country. Among the political parties, only the Greens have presented their own diagnosis. One of their leaders, Joschka Fischer, has accused the government of raising the spectre of “the German question”, more than 60 years after it had been laid to rest. Angela Merkel is suspected of wanting to return to a Europe of sovereign states: the same Europe based on a balance of powers that was rocked by the wars of past centuries, whose restoration the launch of the European Community was designed to prevent.

The Chancellor has progressively abandoned the pro-European position that she professed in 2012

These suspicions are not unfounded. The Chancellor has progressively abandoned the pro-European position that she professed in 2012, and set about closing the doors she had previously left ajar. In so doing, she has rapidly adapted to the rise of neo-nationalism (the recently launched party Alternative for Germany (AfD) which has been recruiting on the right and the left). Her speeches and her actions "lack any normative core," complains Jürgen Habermas. This is the reason why she rallied to support [British Prime Minister] David Cameron when he imposed a veto on any increase to the EU’s budget: together they ruled out the introduction of European policy to counter the effects of austerity. Speaking on German television on August 13, the Chancellor unburdened herself further: "Europe should be better coordinated, but I do not believe that everything should be done in Brussels. The repatriation of competencies to member states should be examined. We will talk about it after the elections."

For Austrian writer Robert Menasse, the problems affecting the euro are closely linked to the role of democracy and thus more political than economic: they are inherent in the powers that states are in the process of repatriating – a campaign of reconquest that commenced in 2007 when the Lisbon Treaty was introduced instead of a previously mooted federal constitution. Since this date, member states – councils of ministers, and summits of heads of state and government – have begun to regain control, laying claim to an illusory but no less pompous sovereignty, which has increasingly undermined supranational institutions. The defects in the conception of the euro caused by the political and economic union are well known. But we have responded to these defects by reinforcing them, rather than reducing them.

In a Europe where nation states are in control, it is inevitable that the biggest economic power will call the shots

In a Europe where nation states are in control, it is inevitable that the biggest economic power will call the shots. And so it does and not without guile, to the point where Ulrich Beck alludes to Machiavelli when describing the empire accidentally established by Berlin: "Just like Machiavelli, Angela Merkel has seized the opportunity that was handed to her – the crisis – to shake up power structures in Europe". The union is no longer a community when debt-sinners [in German, “debt” and “sin” are the same word] are labeled with the humiliating catch-all, "southern periphery of Europe." This is the reason for the evaporation of any "normative core" and the volatility of German positions: on the powers to be restored to national governments, on a European federation, and on a banking union, which was initially deemed to be desirable, but subsequently rejected to protect the interests of German banks.

In a word, as Ulrich Beck explains: "The prince, says Machiavelli, does not have to honour a political pledge made yesterday if it brings him no advantage today."

The isolationist leanings of the AfD have accelerated this regression. If the party wins seats in parliament, the face of the country will change, although it will not remain on the sidelines of Europe, as the United Kingdom has done: the principle of the country’s involvement in Europe is inscribed in article 23 of Germany’s basic law (which was redrafted in 1992), but the involvement prescribed is not federal.

The final platitude concerns memory. In Germany, political memory is fraught with blind spots. People remember inflation under Weimar, but not the deflation and the austerity under Chancellor Brüning (1930 to 1932), which paved the way for Adolf Hitler’s electoral success. People remember National Socialism but forget what came after it: the reduction of German debt, generously granted by 65 states including Greece in May 1953. Even the myth that Germany has learned the lessons of history must be partially dispelled, if we do not want a Europe that is divided between "favelas": between saints and sinners who at best “coordinate," and, in so doing, negligently set aside the notion of "community" that used to be their objective.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Fri 20 Sep - 11:00

Germany industry in revolt as green dream causes cost spiral
Germany’s top economic adviser has called for a radical rethink of the country’s energy policies, warning that the green dream is going badly wrong as costs spiral out of control.


Image 1 of 2
Utilities have turned to coal and lignite, causing Germany's CO2 gases to rise Photo: PA
Image 1 of 2The rising surcharge placed on German household and SME bills to pay for renewable energy projects

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By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
4:34PM BST 19 Sep 2013
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“We need a drastic policy shift,” said Christoph Schmidt, chairman of Germany’s Council of Economic Experts. “They haven’t paid any attention to costs. These are now huge.”

The government has vowed to break dependence on fossil fuels and source 50pc of all electricity from wind, solar and other renewables by 2030, and 80pc by mid-century. But cost estimates have reached €1 trillion (£840bn) over the next 25 years.

“It is a worthwhile goal, and the whole world is looking to see whether Germany can do it, so we can’t fail. But there have been so many mistakes,” Professor Schmidt told the Daily Telegraph.

He said Germany has no margin for error since its own growth "speed limit" has dropped to 1pc, and the country will face an acute aging crisis over the next decade.

The concerns were echoed by Germany’s powerful industry federation, the BDI, which said it can longer remain silent as green romanticism plays havoc with German power supply.

=============================
Will any immediate change in German Policy in light of this Report affect the election?

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Sat 21 Sep - 8:14

German Election: Angela Merkel's Lead TightensNew polls put the Chancellor's coalition almost neck-and-neck with opposition as voters prepare to go to the polls on Sunday.5:00am UK, Saturday 21 September 2013 Video: Merkel Makes Final Election Pitch
Enlarge EmailBy Robert Nisbet, Europe Correspondent, in Berlin

Angela Merkel's coalition government is trapped in a statistical dead heat with an alliance of opposition groups on the day before polls open in the federal election.

The German chancellor has governed since 2009 with the liberal, pro-business party Free Democrats (FDP), led by her foreign minister Guido Westerwelle.

But he has presided over a significant fall in support during the euro crisis, with some polls putting the FDP below the 5% threshold needed to enter the national parliament, or Bundestag.

Meanwhile the rise of the anti-euro AfD, or Alternative for Germany party, could steal votes away from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), making a so-called Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) essential to govern.

Ms Merkel's main opponent Peer Steinbrueck of the SPD has stepped up his attacks on the chancellor, accusing her of leading an inept government, incapable of dealing with the debt crisis.

While the German leader has been demonised abroad for her approach to the euro crisis, it has been bread and butter issues which have dominated the election campaign.

Tax, child benefits, healthcare and pensions have all trumped the euro crisis and foreign policy on the campaign trail.


Ms Merkel and Peer Steinbrueck

In recent days attention has focused on whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations that the US National Security Agency spied on German citizens.

Surveillance is a touchy subject in Germany for obvious reasons, and the SPD have been attacking Ms Merkel for appearing unperturbed when the scandal broke.

Opposition parties have also accused Ms Merkel of stealing popular measures from other parties' manifestos in order to neutralise their appeal at the polls.

She finally agreed to a minimum wage in certain professions, which was pushed by the SPD, and also staged a remarkable volte-face over energy, by announcing she would phase out all German nuclear power reactors by 2022.

That was supported by the Greens.

But despite the occasional sparkler, this campaign has been short of fireworks to enthuse and excite the electorate.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Sat 21 Sep - 9:26

A German analyst has just been commenting on sky News about the election and thinks Merkel will have no clear majority and will have to govern with another Party. Germany has up to 6 opposition Parties and Britain is also having to rely on another Political party , maybe even UKIP after the next Election. Although Merkel is the most powerful Leader in the EU and respected around the World , she faces problems at home trying to get her policy accepted.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Sat 21 Sep - 13:31

Robert Nisbet

Europe Correspondent

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Angela Merkel is a curious collision of contradictions, tectonic plates which started moving when her father relocated his family to East Germany.

The Kasners were financially prudent, and the bookish teenaged Angela wore clothes sent by relatives from the West as she developed a taste for science and politics in the small town of Templin near the Polish border.

One of her fellow pupils, the town's police chief Harald Loeschke told Sky News she was a "normal student, but serious and hardworking".

He told us he had "no idea" she would achieve such political success.

But her upbringing in the East and her reputation as a thoughtful and reliable party operative in the East German Democratic Awakening party caught the eye of advisors for Helmut Kohl.

Of course, Angela Merkel's rise through the ranks of the Christian Democratic Union to become the world's most powerful woman required more than a kind smile and a deliberately unfussy image.


Rival Peer Steinbrueck has struggled to find his voice in the campaign

She is a ruthless operator who has dispatched political leaders at home (she kicked her mentor Kohl into touch with a newspaper article denouncing his role in a party funding scandal) and abroad (Greece's George Papandreou and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi both fell after she withdrew her support).

Over the last few weeks she also "cleaned house" in her own government, helping political allies to fall on their swords.

For other less popular leaders, such a move before a federal election would signal panic in the ranks.

But this lady's not for panicking.

With her opponent, Socialist leader Peer Steinbrueck, struggling to find his voice, the German economy sputtering to life and her quiet appropriation of other parties' policies (phasing out nuclear power, finally establishing a minimum wage in certain industries), Ms Merkel is unassailable.

Outside Germany, opinions diverge: she is denounced as a Nazi by Greek protesters and as an economic miracle worker in countries like Poland which have economically benefited from the EU.


Merkel and Steinbrueck took part in a TV debate earlier this month

She has also faced criticism from those who question her reliance on deficit reduction and structural reforms for restricting the ability of poorer, indebted eurozone countries to return to growth.

But her supporters at home appreciate her rejection of mutualised debt, and guidance of Germany's relatively strong economy, even though much of the groundwork for recovery was laid by the labour reforms of her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder.

In a campaign which has been dull even by German standards, her central appeal to voters has been this: "If the economic engine has finally sparked into life, why sack the mechanic?"

Germany is a conservative country which rewards caution, so the cautious conservative is almost certain to lead again, her popularity far exceeding that of her party, which will have to lead a coalition.

Her junior coalition partner, the FDP, is fading fast, and Germany's answer to UKIP has experienced a poll boost, but the direction of the government is unlikely to change, such is Ms Merkel's influence.

The nation's "Mutti" - or mummy - will remain in charge.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Sun 22 Sep - 14:49


Germany: ‘Merkel urged to act faster if re-elected’



20 September 2013

Presseurop
The Wall Street Journal Europe
The Wall Street Journal Europe, 20 September 2013

With current German Chancellor Angela Merkel looking set to retain power after Sunday’s election, business leaders are pressing her to move quickly to confront domestic issues such as high energy prices and aging infrastructure soon after the poll, writes the Wall Street Journal.

She prospered in the 2009 election with a platform promising stability and this has also been the central tenet of this campaign, one which has brought her “commanding voter-approval ratings”. The financial daily continues –

“But for Ms Merkel, pursuing changes more aggressively could risk undermining the cornerstone of her domestic popularity: the perception that her methodical approach protected the German economy while Europe imploded around it.”

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Mon 23 Sep - 3:06

Merkel Romps To Victory In German ElectionThe Chancellor cements her position as Europe's most powerful leader, but she may have to form a coalition with her rivals.1:30am UK, Monday 23 September 2013 Angela Merkel may be forced to form a coalition with the centre-left party
EmailBy Robert Nisbet, Europe Correspondent

Angela Merkel has triumphed by securing a third term as German chancellor, but she will have to find new coalition partners to govern Europe's largest economy.

Her conservative Christian Democratic Union and its sister party the Christian Social Union saw their combined share of the vote rise by 8% in an unexpectedly strong endorsement of her austerity policies.

Ms Merkel told supporters it was "a super result" but she did not immediately speculate about the shape of the next government.

"I see the next four years in front of me and I can promise that we will face many tasks, at home, in Europe and in the world," she said during a television appearance last night.

"The party leadership will discuss everything when we have a final result but we can already celebrate tonight."

Preliminary official results showed that overall the CDU/CSU won 41.5%, seeing off the main opposition Social Democrats who managed 25.7%.

It was a poor night for the liberal Free Democratic Party, which was Ms Merkel's coalition partner since 2009, and saw its support plummet by nearly 10% to 4.8%.

It fell beneath the 5% threshold of national support and so is barred from the Bundestag, the national parliament.


Ms Merkel will have to forge alliances with traditional opponents

Its humiliation almost handed Ms Merkel an absolute majority, as its exclusion lowered the number of seats the CSU would have needed to control the chamber.

But she is just shy of that total, so will need to forge alliances in order to govern.

It seems most likely she will seek a "grand alliance" with the SDP, which will be expected to seek promises in return for its support.

They could include a greater emphasis on growth across the eurozone, rather than austerity, and the introduction of a minimum national wage.

But Ms Merkel's support from the electorate is so strong, it will strengthen her hand in any negotiation.

It is unlikely there would be an obvious sea-change in the government's political trajectory.

That will be welcomed by many in the EU and leaders around the world who know that a change of direction might spook the markets and raise borrowing costs for indebted nations.

It will also cheer Prime Minister David Cameron, as Ms Merkel appears to share his conviction that the EU could be strengthened if power flows from Brussels back to member states.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Tue 24 Sep - 18:12



‘A day of resignations’



24 September 2013

Presseurop
Süddeutsche Zeitung
Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 September 2013

"There will clearly be significant leadership changes in the parties that lost the ballot, the liberal (FDP) and the Green parties," says German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

FDP leader, Philipp Rösler, stepped down on September 23 as did the party's entire national executive. New leadership should be appointed at a party congress scheduled for next January.

In the Green Party, the paper adds, the entire national executive also resigned, including Green leader Claudia Roth.

Illustrating its front page with an election map of Germany, Süddeutsche Zeitung announces that Angela Merkel’s sweeping victory has "changed the face of the republic, [...] which is now black," the colour of the CDU/CSU union. The incumbent Chancellor is, nonetheless, seeking a new coalition partner. But the SPD [Social Democrats] with whom she would prefer to govern, are asking her to change her policy towards Europe. "Forming a government in Berlin is proving difficult," the paper concludes

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Tue 24 Sep - 18:25


You say...




This election has shown that the 5% obstacle in the German political system is quite stupid. FDP and AfD together got nearly 10% and neither are represented in the parliament. This obstacle should be lowered, to stop voices being excluded and debates becoming too boring and predictable.

Victorio on Merkel has ‘Europe at her feet’



Ulrich Beck's "dream and poetry" of the European project is one single, very narrow concept of what we might achieve on this continent. If Germany is being disloyal to that sentimental tunnel vision at last, she is doing us all a favour.

AnotherTommy on Germany’s European awakening



Among my friends, many people, who are educated, do not want to vote in the European elections: They are disgusted. And Germany has nothing to do with it.

Lugdu-02 on The problem is not Germany. It’s Europe.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Wed 25 Sep - 17:17


Economy: Germany snared in its own trap



25 September 2013
Le Monde Paris

In January, Greece will take the EU's rotating Presidency for the first sixth months of 2014. One of its tasks will be to assess the economic situation of the member states. One country could find itself in a “situation of imbalance”: Germany, the export heavyweight.

Philippe Askenazy

With the German elections out of the way, the new German government will be facing two major European issues.

The extra package to rescue Greece should not raise any great difficulties. On the other hand, as the timing of the European calendar happens to go, Greece will take over the presidency of the union for the first half of 2014, and on 24 July it will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of the colonels.

While Greece may certainly lack the necessary credibility to take on an economic project for the union, its presidency will indeed be political. Athens will call a EU–western Balkans summit, to be called "Thessaloniki II". The objective is to adopt a political declaration that will set out a deadline, "ambitious but realistic", for completing the process of accession to the union of the countries of the Western Balkans.

The issue is obviously a regional one for Greece: well-attached to the European continent, it has had land borders with the rest of the union only since Bulgaria entered the EU, and it does remain isolated in the southeast. Integrating the Balkans would allow a rebalancing in Europe and anchor the democratic transition in these countries. However, Germany cannot procrastinate. Its government will have to explain to the German people the need, despite the economic risks, to validate this timetable for enlarging the EU.

The second issue is much more pressing. Since the introduction of the "six-pack" (the six rules to strengthen the European stability pact) in late 2011, the technocratic management of the Union, in the eurozone in particular, has been based on other numbers than the famous three per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) that public deficit must be limited to, the 60 per cent of public debt set out in the Maastricht Treaty, and the 0.5 per cent of structural deficit set out in the fiscal compact.

Macroeconomic diagnosis

From now on, every autumn, the Commission shall establish a diagnosis of the macroeconomic imbalances in the countries of the Union, from a battery of 11 indicators. For each of the indicators a range of values has been set. If the indicator comes to rest outside the range, an imbalance is deemed present. Let us mention, right off, that these ranges, just like the Maastricht criteria, do not correspond to any well-grounded economic consideration.

This first review will allow it to be determined what countries are in a “state of imbalance”. The addition or the aggravation of these imbalances can, in a second step, instigate a ”deeper scrutiny".

In November 2012, 13 countries of the Union, including France and the United Kingdom, were declared to be in imbalance. But in the spring report, during what is called the "European semester", the imbalances of these two countries were not judged "excessive", unlike those of Spain. It was a close call: a country in "excessive" imbalance, it turns out, must adopt the corrective measures proposed by the European Commission.

Following two defaults, the country can be subjected to stiff financial penalties – 0.1 per cent of its GDP. It follows that countries whose imbalances are not deemed excessive are strongly encouraged to follow the recommendations of the Commission.

Germany has not been declared to be in imbalance, but it has had a narrow escape

Germany has not been declared to be in imbalance, but it has had a narrow escape. One of the criteria is the balance of current external accounts. On a three-year moving average, Germany must not be in deficit of more than 4 per cent of GDP – but nor may it be in surplus by more than 6 per cent of GDP.

Economic autopilot

This second value is in fact a concession made by Germany, whose economy is highly geared to exports. Angela Merkel calculated that the purge imposed on the peripheral countries of Europe would keep Germany’s balance below 6 per cent, which is already a high value. At that figure, Germany would thus not be accused of being too competitive, to the point of destabilising the union, and it would be others who would be singled out as being not competitive enough. And that is what the central talking-point of the Commission has been since the start of the crisis.

But lo and behold, and with a crash and a bang, Germany exported more and more. The decision was then taken to "arrange" the provisional figures sent in to Eurostat. Miraculously, the moving average calculated by the Commission in the fall of 2012 shifted to – 5.9 per cent! Germany was therefore deemed not to be out of macroeconomic kilter... The final data published in the spring of 2013 reported an average of 6.1 per cent, but by then it was too late. The European semester had already started, and Germany was gearing up for the September election.

All this shows the absurdity of an autopilot running on numbers: once the final data is available, the diagnosis can turn out to be different

All this shows the absurdity of an autopilot running on numbers: once the final data is available, the diagnosis can turn out to be different. And what will be done if a country turns out to have been punished on the basis of statistics that prove wrong in the end?

Meanwhile, German surpluses have grown. The figures can no longer be tweaked: they are merrily on their way to falling between 6.4 per cent and 6.6 per cent of GDP over the period 2010-2012. Germany has thus fallen into its own trap, as has the European Commission.

The dictatorship of the figures allows reforms to be imposed, despite what the peoples want, by falling back on the argument of Germany, the good student. It is hard to imagine, however, that the Greeks, the French and the Spaniards will support, only a few months away from the European elections, special privileges for the northern heavyweight.

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Re: German Election 23rd September

Post  Panda on Fri 18 Oct - 17:47

Germany: ‘Minimum wage temps German social democrats into marriage with CDU’
18 October 2013PresseuropDie Welt Die Welt, 18 October 2013
The foundations have apparently been marked out for a “Grosse Koalition”, remarks Die Welt, which reports that the first formal negotiations on the formation of a government between the social democrats of the SPD and the Christian democrats of Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU are set to begin on October 23.

The daily voices its surprise at the growing pace of discussions — close to a month after general election — and explains that the deadlock was broken once the CDU accepted to introduce a minimum wage, the main condition imposed by the SPD for its inclusion in the government.

Elsewhere, Die Welt reports that the SPD is demanding control of the finance and labout ministries, while expressing a willingness to leave foreign affairs to the CDU.

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