Who are the main players? Horst Seehofer, the 68-year-old leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and federal Interior Minister. Seehofer is about to turn 69 and has been head of the CSU for a decade. Once seen as the saviour of the Bavarian party, he is now being challenged by Markus Söder, a hardliner 17 years his junior, who wants to take over the party's leadership. Angela Merkel, Chancellor since 2005 and head of the Christian Democrats (CDU). She is Seehofer’s boss but the two have never had an easy relationship. He already resigned from a position in her team in 2004 when the two had a falling out over health insurance policies. What is the argument about? Seehofer wants to be able to turn asylum seekers back at the German border if they have already been registered in another European country. Border police would check the people’s fingerprints against a Europe-wide database. If they came up as registered in another country, the police could refuse … [Read more...] about What you need to know about the conflict paralyzing German politics
What is the problem? Germany's conservative parties are a little like two crime families who work together as long as one stays off the other's turf. This has worked out pretty well over several decades as the CSU have sat in power in Munich, while the CDU dominated politics on the federal level. There were unwritten rules to their collaboration though. Whereas the mafia (at least in the films) drew a line at bringing drugs into the country, the unspoken code of German conservative politics was: no immigrants (or at least, not too many). When Angela Merkel decided not to close the borders as thousands of refugees crossed the border in 2015 she broke this rule. Ever since then the ageing boss of the CSU, Horst Seehofer, has been seething. Throw into the mix a hot-headed upstart who is challenging Seehofer's grip on power in the CSU and you not only have the ingredients for a ropy Hollywood movie, but also for real-life German politics. Now Interior Minister, Seehofer has loudly … [Read more...] about Analysis: Is one man about to collapse German politics as we know it?
Richard Grenell. Photo: DPA The US’s ambassador to Germany has only been in the job for a day and he has already managed to raise the hackles of the German establishment. "As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. "German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately," Richard Grenell wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening. As @realDonaldTrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately. — Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) May 8, 2018 Grenell, who only assumed the post of ambassador hours beforehand, was responding to US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of a landmark nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015. The White House has said that any company that trades in Iran will now face sanctions in the US. Grenell’s tweet was met with immediate scorn from … [Read more...] about German political class reacts angrily to ‘instructions’ from new US ambassador
Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern on Monday about Germany's political deadlock after talks to form a new government under Chancellor Angela Merkel failed. "It is not in our interest that the situation becomes tense," Macron, who spoke with Merkel on Sunday, said in comments to the head of the rightwing Republicans party Bernard Accoyer. "It means that we need to go forward." Macron, who was elected in May, was waiting for Merkel to form a government to start talks in earnest about his plans for reforming the European Union. Merkel had given tentative backing to his ideas of creating a new eurozone finance minister position and giving the 19-member zone its own budget, but the details are yet to be worked out. France and Germany, the two biggest economies in the eurozone, are often referred to as the "motor" of the project. Merkel has been left scrambling for ways to drag Germany out of crisis after the … [Read more...] about Macron says German political crisis ‘not in our interest’
1. Germany is a republic The full name of the country in German is Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or Federal Republic of Germany. Up until the end of the First World War, Germany was ruled by the Prussian royal family. But in the final days of the conflict, Kaiser Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate the throne, and on November 9th 1918, a Social Democrat called Philipp Scheidemann declared the country a republic. Since then Germany has never had a royal family, although the word republic was not officially used until after the Second World War. The head of the German state is the President, currently Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The President is supposed to be above German party politics, but more often than not they are a member of one of the main parties. Steinmeier is a senior Social Democrat (SPD). 2. It is a federal system Germany is made up of 16 states. Each of these states has its own parliament and state leader, known as a Minister-President (the city-states of Berlin, … [Read more...] about German politics