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German election TV debate: Live

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- 9:15 p.m. - The whole country has come to a standstill for this debate, it seems. It’s like during the World Cup soccer tournament — with “public viewing” arenas like this one in Berlin set up from The Black Forest to the Baltic. 9:00 p.m. - The sparks are flying here in the first half hour. The four interrogators, network heavyweights, are grilling both Merkel and Steinmeier and there’ s an unexpectedly good discussion going on here without a lot of long speeches. They’re debating about Opel right now — who deserves credit for saving the carmaker. Steinmeier said it would be “Mausetot” (dead as a mouse) if it had been up to Merkel and a centre-right government. Merkel counters — nonsense.

 

 

 

 

8:50 p.m. - Steinmeier and Merkel don’t use the informal “du” with ach other, the world has just learned. It might sound like a trivial question but I bet a lot of people will remember Steinmeier’s answer to that unusual question: “We don’t use ‘du’ — that’s not something that I consider necessary in politics,” Steinmeier says.

 

 

8:36 p.m. – Merkel is also at pains to show her more optimistic side, using her opening question to give a little spiel about how successful the grand coalition has been working “under my leadership”. She doesn’t waste any time ticking off her accomplishments and points out that unemployment fell from 5 million when she took office to under 3 million. What she doesn’t mention is that unemployment is now rising again and her predecessor actually deserves quite a bit of the credit for that initial decline.8:33 p.m. - The debate gets off to a quick start. No messing about. Steinmeier gets the first question and it takes him less than 3 minutes to rattle off all his campaign buzz words: “There’sa better alternative — me,” Steinmeier says with a wide smile. The Foreign Minister seems to be at pains to show he’s in a good mood and silence all those media critics who say he talks like a cold bureaucrat. He goes right on the attack, criticising Merkel for resisting the SPD’s calls for a minimum wage and limiting manager pay. And then Steinmeier pulls out the hammer in his last opening comment — nuclear power. He wants to scare voters worried about CDU/CSU plans to extend the use of nuclear power into his camp. “With us there won’t be any retreat into nuclear power,” he says.   7:15 p.m. – Merkel arrives after Steinmeier and on her own. Her husband will be watching from home.

  

Merkel ally insult of Romanians, Chinese an internet scoop

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In the “old days” of journalism, before the rise of the internet, an alert journalist might pick up on a politician’s gaffe in the middle of an election speech or somewhere on the campaign trail and publish or broadcast a story with the potential to change the dynamic of a race.

 

Nowadays, it could be instead the political opponent or citizen journalists armed with cell phone cameras or small hand-held cameras who can upset the applecart with a YouTube videos, blog or website report documenting a serious verbal blunder.

Does Sorb’s election win point to a more multicultural Germany?

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Under Adolf Hitler, the Nazis tried to extinguish the culture and language of the Sorbs.

This week, a member of Germany’s indigenous Slavic minority won a state election for the first time. Stanislaw Tillich’s victory puts him firmly in control of Saxony, the most populous eastern state – and looks likely to catapult the 50-year-old to the front ranks of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

German ‘cash for clunkers’ out of gas just before vote

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-   Germany‘s “cash-for-clunkers” scheme expired on Wednesday with a last-minute surge in demand a full three weeks before the Sept. 27 election and much faster than anyone thought possible.   The government’s 5-billion euro incentive programme has led to the purchase of 2 million new cars in the last eight months, according to the website of the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control  that has been keeping a live update of how much money was still available. New car registrations are up about 30 percent this year — in the middle of the country’s worst post-war recession.   By any measure the “Abrwackpraemie” (car junking bonus), as the Germans informally referred to the government’s more official “Unweltpraemie” (environment bonus), that offered new car buyers 2,500 euros for scrapping their older vehicles has been a great success story — a textbook example of pump priming that would make have made Franklin D. Roosevelt proud.    

 

It was among the 81-billion euro basket of stimulus measures the government put together to soften the impact of the recession and was later copied in many other countries, including the United States.It started out as a 1.5-billion euro scheme but that had to be quickly topped up in the spring as a frenzy swept the country.

German state elections: Live

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10 p.m. - So it’s a black eye for Merkel and her conservative party four weeks before the federal election with the likely loss of power in two of three states that went to the polls on Sunday. But will it make a difference for the federal election on Sept. 27? Will Steinmeier’s SPD, now in the driver’s seat to win state offices from the CDU for the first time since 2001, be able to take advantage of the momentum? Will the CDU start to get nervous again after squandering big leads in last month of the 2002 and 2005 federal elections? September could be an exciting month in Germany.

 

9:50 p.m.  Bild newspaper’s Nikolaus Blome writes in a column for Monday’s early editions: “It was an earthquake kicking off the hot phase of the national campaign…The CDU has been spoiled by its past success but now has it in writing that the Sept. 27 election is far from decided.”

from The Great Debate UK:

Ghosts of Germany’s communist past return for election

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

Will the party that traces its roots to Communist East Germany's SED party that built the Berlin Wall soon be in power in a west German state?

Or is the rise of the far-left "Linke" (Left party) in western Germany to the brink of its first role as a coalition partner in a state government with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) simply a political fact-of-life now so many years after the Wall fell and the two Germanys were reunited?

Merkel softens up and talks baking, makeup and clothes

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Between running an election campaign and trying to save European carmaker Opel at the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was baking a currant cake and writing out a shopping list for her husband.

Merkel has sought in recent months to soften her business-like image by opening up about her life at home, hoping to reach out to more voters ahead of the federal election on September 27.

Obama calls German election but Merkel knows he’s got it wrong

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Barack Obama might have unrivalled expertise about the U.S. electorate. But the American president showed he’s something of a fish out of water when it comes to the complex world of German politics — where the seeming winners sometimes end up losing and the losers can end up in power with the right alliance.

Obama recently told Germany’s conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop worrying about the Sept. 27 election: “Ah, you’ve already won. I don’t know what you always worry about,” Obama told her in comments captured by a German TV camera at the White House as the two were on their way to a joint news conference.

How far would Obama have made it in Germany?

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What would have happened to Barack Obama if he had been born in Germany?

I had the chance to pose that question to a charismatic young German political leader who is sometimes likened by his supporters to the American President.

Greens party co-chairman Cem Oezdemir, the son of Turkish immigrants, became the first person from an ethnic minority elected to lead a major German party last year — a slogan at the time was “Yes, we Cem“. What might sound rather unspectacular in many industrial countries was actually an epic change in Germany, which until only a decade ago was loath to even acknowledge it was a country of “immigrants” (preferring to call its 7 million foreigners “guest workers”).

Stolen limo a nightmare for Merkel challenger Steinmeier

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Having your car worth 93,000 euros ($132,000) stolen while you’re on holiday in Spain is bad enough.

But if you’re a German government minister whose party is already facing an uphill battle just two months before a federal election, it’s even worse.

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