General debate in the Bundestag: who settles accounts with Merkel

              Wednesday, November 27, 2019
                By Benjamin Konietzny and Hedviga Nyarsik

              The budget of the Chancellery is actually being discussed. The general pronunciation of the opposition is improperly used for a settlement with the Chancellor. In which policy fields is it attacked? Which criticism is particularly appropriate?
              The first minutes of the speech by Chancellor Angela Merkel are not very exciting. Once again the big wide world is in focus. A presentation on the history of NATO, an appeal Europe must respond to the changing role of the US in the Alliance. She warns that the political situation outside Europe – for example in Libya or Syria – remains unclear. She calls for Europe not to see Saudi Arabia and Russia "outfit" Africa. Merkel demands that Europe speak with one voice to China and commends the recent democratic decision in Hong Kong. Before Merkel's speech reaches Germany, she circles around the planet. All those who criticize, they neglect the domestic policy, should see confirmed – first. But then momentum comes into the thing. Merkel announces and makes a clear commitment. It contravenes the GroKo critics and enumerates in staccato what the government has achieved: daycare, dismantling, minimum wage increase, basic pension, maternity pension, skilled labor immigration law, migration management and so on. She is giving up against the Greens, who are calling for a departure from the black zero. "In times of such low interest rates should we make debts, what will we do when high interest rates come?" One should not only find investments good if they caused debts. She sends a clear message to her coalition partner SPD and its finance minister Olaf Scholz: In 2020, Germany will be the country with the highest entrepreneurial tax. "We have to look at that, I think." Scholz listens with folded arms and does not seem to be very pleased. And even her confidant, CDU chief and defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer does not remain careless. Merkel praises her for promoting joint arms projects with France. But when she warns that political solutions are always part of international crises and say that "military solutions alone will never suffice", this should also be understood as criticism. Because Kramp-Karrenbauer had recently repeatedly demanded that Germany must assume a greater military responsibility. In the end, she still sends a clear message to the right camp: "All those who claim that they should not say their opinion, to which I have to say: Who says his opinion, he has to live with the fact that there is contradiction. " Freedom of expression has limits. "And they start where the hate is, where hate is spread." It closes with a surprisingly clear commitment to the GroKo: Much has been started, much has to be continued. "That's why I think we should continue working for the legislature, my personal opinion, I'm in it." Then the hour of the opposition strikes. And that does not withhold their criticism. Climate / Energy Policy As expected, the criticism of the Chancellor comes from the AfD. Group leader Alexander Gauland describes the climate policy of the Federal Government as senseless, ineffective and danger for Germany. "The German energy revolution has failed." The power supply was no longer guaranteed, power outages threatened. Wind turbines threatened the health of the population, the "ecopopular nuclear phase-out" had proved to be a wrong path. "Even if our country ceased to exist tomorrow, the impact on world temperature would be virtually undetectable," says Gauland. "And you put everything on the line, but you make an energy turnaround and ruin our auto industry and the engineering industry." While the AfD accuses the federal government in terms of climate rescue blind activism, criticize the Green and Left the climate change package of the coalition as too lax. Green parliamentary leader Anton Hofreiter accuses the grand coalition of "wrong political decisions" in climate protection. He calls for effective CO2 pricing and rapid expansion of renewable energies. For the left, the "climate package" of the Federal Government "ecologically almost ineffective, economically questionable and socially unjust." Armaments and foreign policyIn foreign and defense policy issues SPD leader Rolf Mützenich points to clear distance to the Union. The Social Democrats did not shy away from discussing responsibility, he says. But the responsibility principle of the Union is exhausted too much in the military. The Social Democrats would not go along with a "pursuit of military dominance". The same is true of the Left Group: the defense budget is in fact an "upgrade budget". How the money is spent has nothing to do with responsible prioritization, says fraction leader Dietmar Bartsch. "Most Bundeswehr armament projects are billions of graves for the taxpayer." Germany needs apartments instead of weapons. WohnungsAuch that is a core issue of the left. Once again criticism comes from Bartsch. He accuses the chancellor of having said nothing about affordable rents. "Over one million people have less money than Hartz IV to live after deduction of the rent." FDP faction leader Christian Lindner, however, complains about the fact that the "building permits have collapsed". He declares the housing initiative failed before it even started. "We lack 1.9 million homes, there is a need for investment of 300 billion euros, where is the money coming from, if not from private investors?" He asks. He calls for an offensive for housing. However, measures such as the Berlin Mietenteckel hindered something like this. Economy In view of the weakening economy, Lindner accuses the government of inaction. The federal government is heading "sleepwalking" towards a recession. "Anyone who leaves the economy on the left, may not be surprised about problems from the right at some point." In addition, Lindner criticizes the one-sided focus on electric mobility, which costs jobs in the automotive industry – and "there are other technologies." Green Party leader Anton Hofreiter tells the grand coalition that they are pursuing a "policy that feeds on the substance of this country ". "We need more investment if we want to maintain our prosperity and our competitiveness." The Greens want to loosen the debt brake in the Basic Law, in order to invest more. Digitalization The balance of digital policy is "incredibly bad," says Bartsch. FDP leader Lindner even calls for a separate ministry for digitization. Hofreiter recalls that Merkel said that Germany needs fast internet. "Yes, I think so, but who ruled the last years?"

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