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by Katja Hoyer
Thursday, 25
November 2021

Germany’s new Government surrenders to identity politics

Olaf Scholz's cabinet has laid out an extremely progressive agenda

Habemus chancellor! There is white smoke over Berlin as the new German government concluded its coalition talks and announced its agenda for the next four years. If you expected a slight tilt to the Left from Merkelism, think again: Germany is in for a radical overhaul.

In the press conference yesterday afternoon, the four party leaders went through the motions of praising each others’ conduct during coalition talks in an effort to allay fears that Germany’s first three-party coalition will lead to instability and division. They stressed that they had agreed on basic principles such as the raising of minimum wage, building new and affordable homes and combating climate change. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 22
November 2021

Which way will Germany’s new chancellor go on defence?

Rising tensions in Europe will require its largest economy to arm itself

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on the future German government to ensure that it fully commits to the alliance’s nuclear sharing programme. On a visit to Berlin last Friday, he addressed the country after media reports had speculated that Angela Merkel’s successor might agree to a withdrawal from nuclear deterrence systems.

Negotiations are ongoing for a three-party coalition to replace the Merkel administration. If successful, Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, will become the new chancellor and his party will lead the country in a centre-Left coalition together with the Green Party and the pro-business Free Liberals. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 15
November 2021

Angela Merkel is too soft on Russia

The Belarusian crisis shows that Putin's interests are not aligned with Germany’s

The crisis on Poland’s border is also being felt by its western neighbour. Many of the 20,000 migrants estimated to have crossed into the EU via Belarus since the middle of October are headed for Germany and reaching its borders in increasing numbers. Yet the response in Berlin has been muted.

Last week, German chancellor Angela Merkel tried to intervene with a phone call to Moscow, from where Belarus might be reined in. She told Vladimir Putin that the situation was “completely unacceptable” as the “instrumentalisation of migrants against the European Union by the Belarusian regime is inhumane.” She ordered Putin to shorten Lukashenko’s leash. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 2
November 2021

Is Olaf Scholz anything more than a mini Merkel?

The pair's weirdly harmonious relationship was on full display in Rome

What is the difference between Angela Merkel and Olaf Scholz? That question is becoming increasingly difficult to answer as Mr Scholz prepares to take the reins.

At the G20 summit in Rome last weekend, Merkel appeared alongside Scholz to present him to the world as the next German leader. But what was strange was how in sync the pair were. When Merkel spoke, Scholz nodded approvingly next to her and vice versa. She told journalists that “this has been an opportunity to appear together in bilateral talks” while he stressed he would continue Merkel’s good work internationally.

This behaviour appeared to baffle Boris Johnson in particular. He reportedly asked how the “German transition” worked and called the process a ‘“friendly takeover”. No wonder he was bemused — it’s hard to picture him with Theresa May appearing at an international summit arm in arm, let alone with Keir Starmer shortly after a general election.  ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Friday, 22
October 2021

Does Germany have a mercenary problem?

Private armies have a long and undistinguished history in the country

Two former German soldiers have been arrested for planning to create a paramilitary group to fight in Yemen. The men were taken in under terrorism charges for attempting to recruit others to their mercenary band.

The project must have seemed a lucrative one for ‘Arend-Adolf G.’ and ‘Achim A.’, as they are called in the German press for privacy reasons. They had hoped that the Saudi government would finance the project. Each member of the 150-strong combat group, made up of ex-soldiers and police officers, was to receive up to €40,000 a month for their services.

These ex-soldiers saw an opportunity to generate a sizeable income after their careers in the Bundeswehr. While the German system involves tight legislation to support those leaving military service, this largely benefits specialised units rather than general infantry. Those who served in combat roles with few transferable skills often struggle to find a job. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Friday, 15
October 2021

The 100 year old Nazi standing trial in Germany

It is hard to watch, but justice is being pursued 76 years later

A former SS guard who worked at Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin from 1942-1945 must now stand trial in Germany under tight security measures. It has taken 76 years for this case to be brought in front of a court.

When the accused appeared there last week, he cut a sorry figure as he laboriously pushed himself forward on his rollator with oner liver-spotted hand, while shielding his face from the cameras with the other. It is hard to believe that the frail, 100-year-old in the home-knitted jumper was once in the SS.

Joseph S. maintains his innocence. When he spoke — confusedly — it was easy to feel sorry for the old man. He looked frail and exhausted. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Thursday, 7
October 2021

Olaf Scholz almost certain to become Chancellor

Negotiations in Germany have proceeded faster than expected

German election results rarely produce a clear winner. It can take weeks, if not months, to form a new government afterwards, but there is a chance it could be different this time.

It seems as though plumes of white smoke are already rising from the smaller parties’ headquarters in Berlin and we might know the new government sooner than expected. If the early indicators are right, Angela Merkel’s successor will likely be Olaf Scholz, who will run the country with a centre-Left coalition.

As Scholz’s SPD won the election only narrowly with 25.7% of the vote compared to Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU which came second with 24.1%, the smaller parties have been cast in the role of kingmakers in an effort to create a workable majority of over 50%. It is now almost certain that the Green Party (15%) and the Free Liberals (FDP, 11.5%) are going to be part of any new government. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 27
September 2021

Angela Merkel hasn’t left the building

Extended coalition talks could leave Mutti in place as a lame-duck chancellor

Election nights are always long. In Germany, where voters went to the polls yesterday, it is unlikely that we will know who Angela Merkel’s successor will be anytime soon. After sixteen years in office, it seems, the 67-year-old won’t be retiring just yet.

Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) came in nearly neck and neck, but the SPD has edged ahead and has secured a narrow victory. This puts the smaller parties of the Greens (15%) and the Free Liberals (11%) in the position of kingmakers while the political fringes of Die Linke on the Left (5%) and the Alternative für Deutschland on the Right (10%) appear to be set for the opposition benches. ...  Continue reading