Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Merkel’s 2nd term off to a bumpy start

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After spending the last four years trapped in a loveless grand coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats, Germany’s conservative chancellor Angela Merkel is looking forward to happier, more productive days in a cosy new centre-right coalition with her preferred partners, the pro-business Free Democrats.

However, rather than smooth sailing with her new, more like-minded coalition partners, it’s turned out to be one turf battle after another between Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, on the one side and the Free Democrats on the other.

Weeks of unseemly arguing over tax cuts, healthcare, conscription and other issues in coalition talks has earned the new coalition the nickname Fehlstart” (false start) in the German media.

That awkward beginning was confirmed in a most embarrassing fashion for Merkel on Wednesday when at least nine deputies in her own coalition withheld their support.

Could the “Baron from Bavaria’s” success rock the coalition in Berlin?

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It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the German
government’s aristocratic AC/DC fan Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

    In Sunday’s federal election, the 37-year-old conservative
Economy Minister won 68.1 percent of the direct votes in his
constituency — more than any other politician in Germany, and
nearly 20 points more than Chancellor Angela Merkel — and
earning him the nickname “King of the votes” in German media.

from Commentaries:

Germans vote for change; will they get it?

angieGermans have voted for change. A centre-right government with a clear parliamentary majority will replace the ungainly grand coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats that ran Europe's biggest economy for the last four years.

This should mean an end to "steady as she goes" lowest common denominator policies, and at least some reform of the country's tax and welfare system. The liberal Free Democrats, who recorded their best ever result with around 14.7 percent, will try to pull the new government towards tax cuts, health care reform, a reduction in welfare spending and a loosening of job protection in small business.

German election live blog

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Welcome to the live blog of the German election, a showdown between Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (right). More than 50 Reuters correspondents, photographers and television crews in Berlin and across Germany will be tracking the story throughout the weekend.

And in this box you will be able to follow the latest twists and turns throughout the weekend. We’re using #germanelection as the hashtag if you want to follow us on Twitter.

Will former minister’s stab in the back hurt Germany’s SPD?

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The last time Germany went to the polls, Wolfgang Clement was deputy head of the Social Democrats (SPD), and one of the most powerful figures in government: the “super minister” in charge of both economic and labour market policy, who had previously governed the SPD heartland of North-Rhine Westphalia, home to 18 million people.

 Four years on, Clement is urging the public to vote for one of the centre-left SPD’s most bitter rivals, the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

from The Great Debate UK:

German elections too close to call

Erik Kirschbaum- Erik Kirschbaum is a Reuters correspondent in Berlin. -

Has this been dullest German election campaign in decades or the most exciting?  Has the battle for power in Berlin between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that concludes with Sunday's election been a memorable showdown or a forgettably boring contest?

Many journalists, pundits and voters have complained it's all been a merciless bore compared to the high-octane battles of the past with little action and precious few highlights.

Flashmobs target Merkel at final election rallies

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Getting pelted by eggs or tomatoes is an occupational hazard for most hardened politicians on the election trail.******But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seeking re-election on Sunday, has been confronted with a new kind of protest during her final campaign rallies: flashmobs.******The mobs, groups of people summoned over the Internet to show up at a specific time and place to do something unusual, have materialised at several election events in the last week to wave flags and banners and heckle the unsuspecting Merkel.******Mostly, they have been chanting “Yeahhhh!” after every sentence she utters and the slogan is meant as an ironic expression of support.******It may not sound like the most damaging critique, but Merkel has cottoned on to the flashmobs and now even addresses them at the rallies as “My young friends from the Internet”.******So is this a new form of political protest or just a bit of fun?******Blogger Rene Walter, who writes for nerdcore, says there is a serious idea behind the light-hearted gatherings.******”We are not just going to swallow the election messages, we are spitting back the rubbish Merkel speaks in the ironic form of a “Yeahhh!”, he says in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily.******Many involved in the flashmobs support the Pirate Party, who are popular among young voters and oppose what they say is censorship of the Internet that has been brought in under Merkel’s government.******One thing is for sure. Flashmobs are injecting some much-needed spontaneity into the final days of a campaign which many voters think has been the most turgid in decades.******But are flashmobs here to stay? Could they become the political protest movement of the Internet age?

Merkel smiles through pre-election jitters

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Pressure? What Pressure?

That was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s message during a 90-minute grilling in Berlin by journalists at her last major news conference before the Sept. 27 election. Even though opinion polls show a narrowing in her re-election campaign and amid a growing nervousness in her conservative party, Merkel was a picture of tranquillity.

Although some of her conservative party allies are pushing for her to raise the volume and intensity of what has been an exceedingly cautious campaign, Merkel made it abundantly clear that she is not at all worried. Perhaps it was all a good bit of acting. But she answered even the most surly of questions from the pack of 100 journalists with a nationwide TV audience watching with smiles and jokes along with the usual assortment of evasive answers.

Less content, more Merkel in campaign posters

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With two weeks to go before Germany holds an election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have unveiled a new set of election posters, depicting Merkel, Merkel, and more Merkel.

Rather than campaigning on the issues highlighted in their election programmes, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) are keeping it simple and hoping to capitalise instead on the popularity of their leader, Germany’s first female chancellor.

German election TV debate: Live 2

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- 10:45 p.m. – My colleagues Madeline Chambers and Noah Barkin have been busy filing updates on the debate. Here is the start of their latest story: BERLIN, Sept 13 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social Democrat (SPD) challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier clashed in a TV debate on Sunday over tax cuts, manager pay and nuclear energy two weeks before an election in Europe’s biggest economy. Steinmeier, whose SPD trails Merkel’s conservatives in opinion polls, went on the attack at the outset, criticising the chancellor for resisting a minimum wage and limits on manager salaries. Merkel parried the attacks of Steinmeier, who has served as her foreign minister for the past four years in Berlin’s “grand coalition”, defending her record but largely steering clear of direct confrontation.
10:30 - ZDF has just published the results of a quick poll of 1,129 viewers: 31 percent said Steinmeier had the upper hand while 28 percent Merkel came out better with 40 percent saying “no difference.” The poll by the Electoral Research Group also found Merkel’s big lead melting among voters after the debate when asked “Who would you rather have as chancellor?” Merkel got 64 percent before the debate but only 55 percent after it while Steinmeier was preferred by 29 percent before the debate and 38 percent after the debate.That is quite a quite a shift. ”This debate marked the start of the hunt for the ‘undecideds’,” said Matthias Jung, head of the polling institute.

10:20 p.m. - My colleagues Dave Graham and Sarah Marsh have been busily keeping track of the debate highlights. Here is their report. 10:02 p.m. – It doesn’t take long for the spin doctors to pop up on the airwaves on all four networks. I’ve been watching public broadcaster ZDF. They’ve got the editor of the left-leaning Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Heribert Prantl, and he says somewhat predictably that Steinmeier won while Helmut Markwort, editor of the right-leaning Focus newsweekly, calls it a draw. “Steinmeier was surprisingly strong,” says Prantl. “I didn’t think he had that in him. He came out of the defensive and went on the attack from the start. Merkel didn’t find her form until towards the end.” Markwort disagrees: “It was a clear draw. They will have galvanised their own supporters. It was relatively lively. I didn’t expect them to go after each other like that.”

9:58 p.m.- Merkel has also obviously rehearsed her closing speech-let. She gets all those terms in that conservatives want to hear: family, children, parents, grandparents, education and “ensuring jobs.” After a rousing debate, Merkel is back in her “feel-good” campaign-speech mode now: vague. “Together we can accomplish a lot,” she says.

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