Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Monday, September 25, 2017

Like Germany’s Social Democrats, left-wing parties are losing ground across Europe

By Rick Noack September 25 at 3:19 AM

The Washington Post

BERLIN — The 2017 German election fits at least three bigger trends. There was Merkel who convinced Germans to grant her a fourth term in office, reaffirming her position as the preferred choice in the center. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) joined a number of other far-right parties across Europe in gaining seats in parliament for the first time, becoming the most likely choice of those drawn to the political side-lines on the right.

And then there was the Social Democratic Party (SPD) which suffered a humiliating defeat, in yet another indication of the challenges some traditional left-wing groups across the continent are facing.

Denmark’s Social Democrats were ousted by a center-right coalition headed by the mainstream Venstre party in 2015. In Austria, the Social Democrats are similarly facing record-losses in upcoming elections, and France’s Socialist Party remains in a deep crisis following its defeat earlier this year.

The decline of Europe’s social democrats is closely associated with the rise of the far-right, experts said.

In Germany, core issues usually believed to play into the hands of the Social Democrats, such as social justice and fair wages, have become less of a concern over the last four years. Instead, immigration and security are now some of the most dominating topics.

“The core competencies of the Social Democrats currently don't really play a big role,” said Timo Lochocki, a political researcher with the German Marshall Fund, an American think tank.

“The last year really did mark a collapse of the social democrats across Europe, as the immigration debate gained momentum,” agreed Tarik Abou-Chadi, a researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin. “Many European social democratic parties are quite divided on the issue of immigration, which is why they are refraining from discussing it,” he said.

As the social democrats mostly remained silent, many voters shifted either to right-wing populist parties or to more outspoken parties on the left.

Other trends, such as a growing number of higher education graduates and a shift away from traditional industries has further eroded social democrats’ support base. Despite that process having dragged on for decades, the social democrats were still able to win elections in the past, however. Prior to the Merkel era, Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder achieved victories with record margins over the conservatives only a little more than a decade ago.

In Great Britain, the Labour Party still appears to be able to make significant gains even today, as it showed during general elections in June. Their unexpected rise in the polls may not be a sign of a social democratic revival more generally, however.

“The momentum created by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union makes Britain a special case which is hard to compare. The U.K.’s electoral system also clearly favors the biggest parties — which makes it distinct from many other European nations,” said researcher Abou-Chadi.

“It also probably has to do with the fact that Theresa May is so deeply unpopular among many in Britain. Of course, Germany’s Merkel is in a far different position,” he said. 68 percent of Germans stated in a recent Gallup poll, conducted prior to Sunday’s vote, that they were satisfied with Merkel’s leadership.

Yet, only a little more than 30 percent of the population ended up voting for her party, the CDU, and Bavaria’s CSU.

Instead of voting for the mainstream alternative, the SPD, some of them chose the far-right instead.

At a leftist protest against the far-right on Sunday evening, hundreds encircled the AfD’s election party location near the Alexanderplatz in central Berlin. “All of Berlin hates the AfD,” some protesters were shouting, as others held up posters with slogans such as “Not my party.”

Responses by protesters here reflected the dilemma the Social Democrats are now in. “I just hope that the response of mainstream politicians to today’s result won’t be a shift toward the right. Simply adopting the same policy positions won’t solve the problem,” said 29-year old designer Henrik Dagedorn. Elsewhere in Europe, some social democratic parties have experimented with adopting more anti-immigration positions, but faced a backlash by its urban and young supporters.

There was uncertainty among the protesters about how to stop the rise of the far-right instead, however.

“I fear that they might stay in parliament longer than we expect, because there won’t be any imminent solution for the problems that got them elected in the first place,” said Martina Schnepka, 51, a nurse.

For Germany's Social Democrats, there does not appear be any imminent solution, either.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Merkel’s Problem: Booming German Economy Is So 20th Century

Low unemployment and high exports are masking a backlog in technology and investment.
By Rainer Buergin  and Tony Czuczka

20 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017, 6:00 π.μ. EEST
Germany’s steady economy is a boon for Chancellor Angela Merkel as she seeks a fourth term on Sunday. Even the diesel-vehicle emissions scandal is barely denting national pride in German high-end manufacturing. Yet a closer look reveals a backlog in 21st-century benchmarks such as broadband and education, pointing to costly catch-up efforts facing the next government. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Europe's Unserious Plan for Greece

The latest deal on debt won’t work, and everybody knows it.
By The Editors

21 Ιουνίου 2017, 9:00 π.μ. EEST

  • Grace periods come to an end. As interest rates creep up, Greece’s debt repayments will rise too. The perpetual primary surpluses creditors are demanding will squeeze the economy so hard that they’ll be self-defeating even in narrow fiscal terms.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Greece Seeks Debt Clarity as Creditors Resist Concessions

by Alessandro Speciale  and Viktoria Dendrinou
31 Μαΐου 2017, 6:27 μ.μ. EEST 1 Ιουνίου 2017, 1:12 μ.μ. EEST


Greece may not be offered a substantially improved debt-relief package when euro-area finance ministers discuss its bailout in Luxembourg next month, officials directly involved in the negotiations said.

Euro-zone creditors are unlikely to commit to further details of measures beyond the extension of maturities in rescue loans that they discussed last week, the officials said, asking not to be named because the ongoing talks are private. Such a deal on its own might still not be enough to convince the European Central Bank to start buying Greek bonds, they said.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

No Greek debt relief needed if primary surplus above 3 percent/GDP for 20 years: paper

Wed May 24, 2017 | 9:24am EDT


By Gernot Heller | BERLIN
Greece will not need any debt relief from euro zone governments if it keeps its primary surplus above 3 percent of GDP for 20 years, a confidential paper prepared by the euro zone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), showed.

The paper, obtained by Reuters, was prepared for euro zone finance ministers and International Monetary Fund talks last Monday, which ended without an agreement due to diverging IMF and euro zone assumptions on future Greek growth and surpluses.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New deadline for Greece set after another stalemate

By Pan Pylas | AP May 23 at 8:26 AM

The Washington Post

BRUSSELS — Hopes for a breakthrough in negotiations for cash-strapped Greece were dashed again and another deadline was set.

Greece once again failed to get approval from its European creditors to receive the next batch of bailout loans that it needs to meet a debt repayment hump this summer. It also failed to secure an agreement on the sort of debt relief measures it can expect to get when its current bailout program ends next year.

Greece Has the Resources to Heal Itself

But it will have to curb tax evasion or remain an eternal ward of the euro zone.
By Leonid Bershidsky


23 May 2017

The euro area's finance ministers again failed to come to an agreement on debt relief for Greece. No surprise there. Hammering out the details would force them to accept an uncomfortable reality: Greece won't be ready to tap private debt markets for years to come. In the meantime, if it wants to get off life support, it will have to find a way to cut tax evasion.

Monday, May 22, 2017

German foreign minister Gabriel demanded debt relief for Greece

Deutsche Welle

Shortly before an Euro Group meeting, German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel demanded debt relief for Greece. Indirectly, Gabriel is standing up against fellow German cabinet minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

See video of Mr Gabriel's speech here:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Half of Germans against debt relief for Greece, survey shows

Fri Feb 24, 2017 | 4:05am EST


Around half of Germans are against granting debt relief to Greece and around three in 10 want the debt-laden country to quit the euro zone, a survey showed on Friday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Germany wants Greece in euro zone, IMF says no special deals

BUSINESS NEWS | Mon Feb 13, 2017 | 5:20pm EST

By Jan Strupczewski and Joseph Nasr | BRUSSELS/BERLIN
Germany on Monday voiced support for Greece to stay in the euro zone and the European Commission dispatched a senior official to Athens to persuade it to take on further reforms to salvage its bailout accord.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, meanwhile, remained firm that as a lender the IMF could not cut any special deals for the crisis-hit country, which has received three bailouts since 2010.

The moves came as the European Commission forecast a large jump in economic growth for Greece of 2.7 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively, this year and next.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tunisian Migrant Investigated for Suspected Terror Ties Is Sought in Berlin Truck Attack

Revelation that authorities sought and failed to deport asylum seeker stokes criticism of Angela Merkel’s refugee policy

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 21, 2016 7:31 p.m. ET

BERLIN—Anis Amri, a Tunisian migrant whom authorities previously investigated for suspected terror ties and tried to deport, became Germany’s most wanted man as the new prime suspect in the capital’s deadly truck attack.

The revelation that the asylum seeker had been able to remain in Germany despite efforts to expel him stoked a furor over what many politicians called dangerous gaps in the country’s immigration policy and escalated the political crisis facing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Germany’s Merkel Says Full Force of Law to Bear in Berlin Attacks

by Patrick Donahue
December 2016, 1:12 μ.μ. EET

  • Germans in mourning after ‘horrific and unimaginable’ attack

  • Anti-immigration AfD party lays blame at Merkel’s door

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that German authorities were working on the assumption that the deaths of 12 people after a truck plowed into a Christmas market were a terrorist attack, and pledged to use the full force of German law to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In a nationally televised statement in Berlin, Merkel said that people across Germany were mourning after the “horrific and unimaginable” deaths and injuries sustained in the capital on Monday evening. She said she planned to tour the scene of the attack later on Tuesday.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

German leader ‘insults’ Saudi Arabia by refusing to wear hijab

Von der Leyen 2010.jpg

By Jamie Schram December 14, 2016 | 11:43am

The New York Post

Germany’s defense minister refused to wear a traditional head covering during her visit with a Saudi Arabian prince, arguing that women have as much right as men do to wear whatever they choose.

Ursula von der Leyen declined to wear a hijab — a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women — or an abaya, a full-length robe, when she met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud in the Saudi capital of Riyadh last Wednesday, according to Sputnik International news.

“The right to choose your own clothing is a right shared by men and women alike. It annoys me, when women are to be pushed into the Abaya,” Das Bild reported Leyen as saying.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Prime Minister Announces Handouts as Strike Cripples Greece


The New York Times

ATHENS, Greece — As thousands of Greeks protested against government spending cuts during a general strike that crippled the country Thursday, struggling Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced one-off measures to ease the burden on pensioners and island residents.

Tsipras said the government would distribute a total of 617 million euros this Christmas to some 1.6 million low-income pensioners, replacing a holiday bonus scrapped by Greece's bailout creditors.

In a nationally televised address, Tsipras said the cash would come from a larger-than-expected surplus in Greece's primary budget, which excludes the cost of servicing the country's crippling debt.

Tsipras has seen his popularity plummet after a series of income cuts and tax hikes demanded by creditors. His left-wing Syriza party trails the main opposition conservatives by more than 10 percentage points in opinion polls.

Βερολίνο: "Οι εξαγγελίες Τσίπρα δεν συζητήθηκαν στο Eurogroup"

Άγνοια των παροχών Τσίπρα είχε το γερμανικό υπουργείο Οικονομικών και το Eurogroup. Ως επικοινωνιακή φυγή προς τα εμπρός λόγω των εσωπολιτικών πιέσεων βλέπουν γερμανοί αρθρογράφοι τις χριστουγεννιάτικες παροχές του.

deutsche welle

Ούτε το γερμανικό υπουργείο των Οικονομικών, αλλά ούτε και το Eurogroup γνώριζε για τις χθεσινοβραδινές εξαγγελίες του έλληνα πρωθυπουργού σχετικά με τις παροχές προς τους χαμηλοσυνταξιούχους και το πάγωμα του ΦΠΑ στα νησιά των Αιγαίου με μεγάλη προσφυγική ροή. Σε ερώτησηπου απηύθυνε η Deutsche Welle προς την εκπρόσωπο του γερμανικού υπουργείου Οικονομικών, εάν είχε γνώση των εξαγγελιών Τσίπρα το υπουργείο της, η Φρεντερίκε φον Τιζενχάουζεν μας απάντησε ως εξής: «Όχι, το θέμα δεν συζητήθηκε ούτε και στο Eurogroup της περασμένης Δευτέρας. Αλλά είναι υπόθεση των θεσμών να αξιολογούν τέτοιου είδους μέτρα».
Ο γερμανικός τύπος κάνει αναφορά στο αιφνιδιαστικό, όπως το χαρακτηρίζει, διάγγελμα του έλληνα πρωθυπουργού προς τον ελληνικό λαό με παροχές προς τους συνταξιούχους και τους κατοίκους νησιών με πολλούς πρόσφυγες. Ορισμένοι αρθρογράφοι εκφράζουν έκπληξη για αυτήν την κίνηση του κ. Τσίπρα σε μια κρίσιμη περίοδο έντονων αντιπαραθέσεων και αγώνα δρόμου προκειμένου να κλείσει η δεύτερη αξιολόγηση.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Eurozone Bailout Fund Proposes Short-Term Debt Relief for Greece

ESM proposes extension on some maturities and locking in the interest on some loans to ease Greece’s debt load

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Nov. 30, 2016 7:57 a.m. ET
BRUSSELS—Confidential proposals drawn up by the eurozone’s bailout fund could reduce Greece’s debt load by about a fifth in 2060.

A six-page document, dated Nov. 25 and seen by The Wall Street Journal, was produced by the European Stability Mechanism, the Luxembourg-based eurozone bailout fund. It outlines measures that could be taken in the near future to reduce Greece’s large debt load.

The paper proposes to ease Greece’s debt load by extending some maturities and locking in the interest on some of Greece’s loans to shield it from future interest-rate increases.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Who rules? Euro zone budget tensions surface

Thu Nov 17, 2016 | 11:51am EST


By Alastair Macdonald and Jan Strupczewski | BRUSSELS
Berlin's brusque "Nein" on Thursday to a call from Brussels for it to loosen its budget to help the euro zone's struggling south exposed tensions over who should control the currency union and police its rules.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose German finance ministry rejected the European Commission's call for it to spend more, went public last month to say the EU executive had become too "political" to act as impartial enforcer of euro zone fiscal rules and should hand the role to a new supervisor.

Monday, October 10, 2016

IMF says still engaged with Greece, no decision yet on bailout role

Sun Oct 9, 2016 | 12:21pm EDT


The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday it is still fully engaged in talks to join the Greek bailout program and has not yet decided on what role it will take.

The IMF's comment came after two sources with direct knowledge of the Greek bailout talks told Reuters on Saturday that negotiations for the fund to commit financial resources to the program are making little headway and the IMF likely would accept a special advisory status with limited powers.

"We remain fully engaged, with the aim of reaching agreement on a program that the fund can support with a new arrangement, as requested by the authorities," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in an emailed statement on Sunday. "In this regard a mission team will visit Athens soon."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Deutsche Bank crisis could take Angela Merkel down – and the Euro

Matthew Lynn 26 SEPTEMBER 2016 • 4:43PM

The Telegraph

here are some words that make such an unlikely pairing that we find it hard to put them together.  Italy and efficiency, for example. Or Bake Off and Channel 4. And ‘Germany’ and ‘banking crisis’ is another one. Our image of German banks, and the German economy, as completely rock solid is so strong that it takes a lot to persuade us they might be in trouble.

And yet it has become increasingly hard to ignore the slow-motion car crash that is Deutsche Bank, or to avoid the conclusion that something very nasty is developing at what was once seen as Europe’s strongest financial institution. Its shares have been in free-fall for a year, touching a new low of 10.7 euros on Monday, down from 27 euros a year ago. Over the weekend, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel waded into the mess, briefing that there could be no government bail-out of the bank.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit: France and Germany 'in agreement' over UK's EU exit

37 06 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have said they are in "full agreement" on how to handle the fallout from the UK's decision to leave the European Union.
Mr Hollande warned that "separated, we run the risk of divisions, dissension and quarrels".
The two will hold talks later in Berlin amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in the wake of so-called "Brexit".
The pound fell further in early trading in Asia on Monday as markets reacted.
UK Chancellor George Osborne made a statement before the start of trading in the UK in a bid to calm markets.
He said the UK was ready to face the future "from a position of strength", although he accepted the economy would have to confront challenges and that further volatility on financial markets was likely.