geändert / updated: 17/04/08


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(Germany in autumn; 04-02; p.2)

The government

The new government of Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens have concluded their coalition treaty, thereby fixing their political will. On the other hand, almost every project is tied to fiscal abilities, i.e. especially not to interfere with obligations stemming from the Maastricht-treaty. Thus, state activities must not be financed by new debts which will be penalised by the European Union.

The most important political action of the government parties was the election of the chancellor on 21 October - in Germany, the chancellor becomes elected by simple majority of MPs. In turn, chancellor Schröder introduced his cabinet ministers and state's secretaries - the latter being politicians that head the civil service to make sure that work is done along government's lines.
The first programme to be pushed through will be the "Hartz-concept": a package of measures claimed to reduce unemployment. However, it remains to be seen how successful this will be: different economists already stated that the measures planned might possibly accelerate finding jobs but that they will hardly have an impact on the number of vacancies.


The opposition

As regards the opposition parties, there is silence as well - apart from the usual reflexes on declarations of the government about planned projects.

Chancellor Schröders main opponent in the elections, the Christian Social Unionist Edmund Stoiber, has returned to Bavaria where he is minister-president and so far did not give important statements about federal politics. (To complete a picture: Germany's conservatives are subdivided into the Bavarian Christian Social Union and the Christian Democrats in all other parts of the federation. In federal elections they form the CDU/CSU coalition.) This role seems to be reserved for Angela Merkel, chairwoman of the CDU as well as of the party in the German parliament, the Bundestag.
Urged back to the political stage has been Friedrich Merz to serve as counterpart to Wolfgang Clement, minister for economy and work. - In the past, he has not attracted attention because of elaborated political concepts but because of his will to change politics. In this respect, his stance is similar to the minister's. Thus, explicitly conservative political concepts, e.g. like the one of Heiner Geißler, who stresses the roman-catholic foundations of social policy, are unlikely to be produced by Merz. (read on here)

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