Erik's Feed
Jan 17, 2013

Gaffe-prone Merkel rival drags down centre-left as vote looms

OSTERHOLZ-SCHARMBECK, Germany (Reuters) – Peer Steinbrueck looked uncomfortable as he waited to go onstage at a small-town rally for a regional election on Sunday that could make or break his ambitions to be Germany’s next leader.

No one was talking to the Social Democrat (SPD) candidate for chancellor, whose blunders have sent his party into a tailspin in national opinion polls and could drag Stephan Weil, SPD candidate for state premier in Lower Saxony, to an unexpected defeat on Sunday.

Jan 10, 2013

German efficiency in doubt after airport debacle

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germans take pride in their engineering and organisational skills but their country’s reputation for efficiency has been exploded by a farcical series of delays in building Berlin’s new international airport.

Although the postponements in opening what is ostensibly a completed marvel of architecture have drawn the most attention, Germany’s stifling bureaucracy, red tape and planning rules have also blighted dozens more big projects.

Jan 7, 2013

Berlin airport delay damages mayor, embarrasses Germany

BERLIN, Jan 7 (Reuters) – Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit
stepped down on Monday as head of a board overseeing the
building of the city’s new international airport after yet
another delay in the project dealt a fresh blow to Germany’s
reputation for efficiency.

Wowereit, a focal point of criticism due to delays in
opening the 4.3-billion-euro ($5.6 billion) airport, bowed to
the pressure and gave up the supervisory board chair to
Brandenburg state Premier Matthias Platzeck. The airport is
jointly owned by Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal government.

Jan 7, 2013

Fifth Berlin airport delay embarrasses Germany, hurts mayor

BERLIN, Jan 7 (Reuters) – A fifth postponement of the
opening of Berlin’s new international airport has tarnished
Germany’s reputation for efficiency and threatens to ruin the
high-flying career of Berlin mayor’s Klaus Wowereit.

Already 20 years in the planning, Berlin’s new 4.3-billion
euro ($5.61 billion) Willy Brandt International Airport has had
to push back its opening from 2011 to June 2012, then to March
2013, then to October 2013 and now to 2014, a source familiar
with the plans told Reuters on Sunday.

Dec 30, 2012

Merkel challenger under fire for saying chancellor underpaid

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck was widely criticized on Sunday, even by his own center-left Social Democrats (SPD), for saying German leaders were underpaid.

Steinbrueck has struggled to gain ground against Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of next September’s election, in part due to lingering criticism over him earning 1.25 million euros ($1.65 million) as an after-dinner speaker in the past three years.

Dec 26, 2012

Merkel party rises to seven-year poll high before election year 2013

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have climbed to their highest opinion poll level in nearly seven years but will not be able to continue their center-right coalition with the slumping Free Democrats (FDP), a survey said on Wednesday.

The Forsa poll published on Wednesday, nine months before an election, found Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) rising three points to 41 percent, the highest since March 2006.

Dec 23, 2012

German politicians allege post-election plan to cut budget

BERLIN (Reuters) – The junior political partners of German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Sunday against any attempt to raise taxes after next year’s election as Europe’s champion of budget discipline struggles to balance its books.

The Finance Ministry has denied a Der Spiegel news magazine report that Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wants to raise value-added tax to a uniform 19 percent, eliminating a discounted 7 percent rate on many items to bring in an extra 23 billion euros ($30 billion) each year.

Dec 23, 2012

Merkel ally Schavan rejects plagiarism charges

BERLIN (Reuters) – A close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday rejected allegations of plagiarism in her 1980 doctoral thesis and said she wanted to stay in the cabinet beyond September’s election.

The accusations are similar to those that last year brought down Merkel’s defense minister and heir-apparent, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, but could prove more damaging for the government only nine months before an election.

Dec 22, 2012

Merkel rival attacks Germany’s soaring arms exports

BERLIN, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Peer Steinbrueck, set to
challenge Angela Merkel as German leader next year, criticised
her centre-right government on Saturday for letting arms exports
surge and vowed to end that if his centre-left opposition wins

The former finance minister, nominated to lead the Social
Democrats (SPD) into September’s election against Merkel, said
it was a scandal that Germany has become the world’s third
largest arms exporter on her watch.

Dec 16, 2012

Merkel rips German opposition for blocking tax cuts

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the centre-left opposition for blocking her government’s efforts to cut income taxes by 6 billion euros, telling a German newspaper those parties will have to explain that to voters in next year’s election.

Merkel, seeking a third term in September, also found fault with Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens in a newspaper interview for thwarting a deal with Switzerland to tax assets stashed by Germans in Swiss banks although without revealing their names.

    • About Erik

      "Erik Kirschbaum is based in Berlin. He has been covering politics, economics, entertainment and sport in Germany since 1989 from Frankfurt, Bonn and Berlin. He also has worked for Reuters in Vienna. Previously, he also worked for newspapers in Connecticut, Wisconsin and Nevada. He has also written two books."
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