Now Showing: Katja HoyerShow All
breaking news from the world of ideas

by Katja Hoyer
Thursday, 15
July 2021
Reaction
11:50

Has Angela Merkel betrayed the United States?

The Chancellor is putting Germany's relationship with the US under strain

Britain may think it has a special relationship with the USA, but Germany shares this ambition too. America has always held an irresistible pull for Germans. Just think all the way back to the 19th century, when German immigrants flocked West in their millions.

Today, 43 million US citizens describe themselves as having German ancestry. Helmut Schmidt, the vastly popular chancellor of West Germany from 1974-1982 once said that there would only be one other country he would choose to call home apart from his native Germany — the USA.

This special US-German relationship seems to have weathered the storm of the Trump era. There was a palpable sense of relief in Berlin when Joe Biden was elected to succeed the 45th President last year. Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, enthusiastically declared on a Berlin visit last month: ‘I think it’s fair to say that the United States has no better partner, no better friend in the world than Germany.’ Now Angela Merkel is dining with Joe and Jill Biden at the White House during her last ever visit there as German chancellor. All is well. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Wednesday, 7
July 2021
Debate
11:37

Germany’s autobahn wars are intensifying

The future of this country's roads will hinge on who wins the next election

Autobahn. The word alone conjures up images of long, wide empty roads — an endless network of pristine concrete on which one can travel freely and unimpeded. Germany’s motorway network is famous the world over, its very name is singularly evocative.

In the minds of foreigners, the feature most commonly associated with the autobahn is the the lack of a general speed limit. True, there is a recommended maximum speed of 130 km/h (81mph), but drivers are free to go as fast as they like unless there are explicit restrictions in place. Currently around 70% of the autobahn network is unrestricted. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Wednesday, 30
June 2021
Reaction
07:00

In Germany, the Green bubble is bursting

A plagiarism scandal is another set-back for the party's leader

When the leader of the German Green Party Annalena Baerbock published a new book last Monday she hoped it would boost her credibility as a leader and add depth to her political profile. However, there has been very little debate around the ideas she puts forward in it. Instead, the book has made headlines because it allegedly contains vast swathes of plagiarised material.

Peppered with personal anecdotes that aim to show that there is genuine passion behind her ideas, the book practically serves as an extended party manifesto in which the chancellor candidate aims to lend credibility and depth to her party’s agenda. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 14
June 2021
Reaction
07:00

Meanwhile in Germany, it’s Bismarck’s turn to be toppled

A move to remove the statesman's statue ignores the complexities of his legacy

“Off with his head” demands a retired pastor from Hamburg, pointing a trembling finger at the colossal statue of Otto von Bismarck that towers over his north German port city. The memorial to Germany’s first chancellor is the largest of over 600 such monuments that were erected all over the country. Besmeared with graffiti and structurally unsound, it was in dire need of restoration — if it was to be saved.

The 34m stone figure overlooks Hamburg’s harbour and has been a dominant feature of the cityscape since it was first built in 1906. The restoration is now underway costing €9 million. That Germany is restoring its 19th century monuments while other nations are toppling theirs has naturally led to a heated debate.  ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Thursday, 27
May 2021
Explainer
16:30

The UK Greens are no match for their German cousins

One is polling in the single digits, while the other could soon win power

The promotion of arms sales to conflict zones is not something one would immediately associate with a Green party manifesto. Yet, the co-leader of the German Greens, Robert Habeck, demanded this week that Berlin should allow the sale of ‘defensive’ weapons to Ukraine.

Habeck had met the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kiev before visiting the front lines of the conflict with Russia in the East of the country. The security threat there made a strong impression on him. He told German radio afterwards that Ukraine ‘feels and is isolated in terms of security policy […] one cannot deny Ukraine weapons for self-defence.’ ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 20
April 2021
Explainer
17:09

In Germany, the Greens are headed for Government

The election of Annalena Baerbock is a sign of the party’s new confidence

Germany’s Green Party means business. Now only single digits behind the conservative CDU/CSU in the polls (but ahead of all parties in this poll), there is a real chance that the federal elections in September might bring about the country’s first Green leader. It is a sign of the party’s new confidence that it has on Monday picked its first-ever chancellor candidate: Annalena Baerbock.

Only 40 years old, she is the youngest of the candidates for Germany’s central political office. This befits a party that is trying to win over voters on a reform ticket. But make no mistake, Baerbock is an experienced career politician with the potential to convince even risk-averse voters that she would be a safe pair of hands. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Monday, 12
April 2021
Explainer
10:30

Will a Bavarian joker be Germany’s next chancellor?

Markus Söder is the outsider candidate to succeed Angela Merkel

The gloves are off in the race to become the next chancellor of Germany. On Sunday, the Bavarian Minister-President, Markus Söder, declared that he would like to stand as chancellor candidate for the conservative bloc — “if the CDU were willing to support me”. The curtain is raised for a showdown with fellow conservative Armin Laschet, who also wants the job.

Laschet told the Bild Zeitung this morning that he fully expects to get support from his party. The German media also favour him but his polls have been in free-fall for weeks. His candidacy for the chancellorship would be a huge risk for the German conservatives. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 30
March 2021
Explainer
11:59

Angela Merkel lasches out

The CDU leader has voiced displeasure with rivals in and outside of her party

“This is entirely my fault and I ask the German public for forgiveness”.

Angela Merkel’s apology last week was widely welcomed and went some way to appease a country fed up with the botched vaccination roll-out and yet more ineffective lockdown measures.

Asked in a televised interview on Sunday if she had apologised for not acting decisively enough, Merkel’s curt answer was: ‘Nein.’ She only accepted responsibility for the uncertainty caused by her government’s u-turn on the controversial Easter lockdown. For structural problems in the wider covid response, the minister presidents were to blame. As heads of the 16 states that make up the country’s federal structure, they hold all the power from vaccine roll-out to lockdown specifics. ...  Continue reading