FIRST, SOME SOLID INTEL:
SPD Nominates Federal Minister of Finance to Be Their Candidate for Chancellor
The SPD, the former big people’s party has been in crisis for several years. Formerly, the party polled over 40 %, but currently it hovers around 17 %. And while they are part of the German government, their major coalition party CDU (Merkel’s party) takes all the credit for Germany’s effective Corona-related policy and the SPD is sliding further and further into obsolescence. After years and months of internal struggle, the leftist party government decided to use their last remaining trump card by nominating Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to be their candidate for chancellor. Scholz is one of the most popular and trusted politicians in the country, only outpaced by Angela Merkel in the polls.
Given their abysmal polling numbers, one might even ask if they need a candidate for chancellor. However, if they have a shot, then this very early decision to choose Scholz as their candidate was a good move. Mainly, because the CDU is still lining up candidates like one would outfits before a big night out (currently: 4 options available).
Navalny Case Displays a BIG Challenge for Germany
It could have been a quite relaxed summer for German politics and Angela Merkel. Then someone (the Russian government?) poisoned Alexej Navalny, who is currently being treated in the Berlin Charité Hospital. Despite the personal tragedy of the whole case, it puts German and EU politicians in a difficult position: How to deal with Russia? Chancellor Merkel condemns what happened (and did so publicly and explicitly this Thursday), but the sensitive project North-Stream 2, among other ongoing conflicts with Russia, need to be taken into account. Add the USA to the already tense atmosphere around North-Stream 2 and you can imagine the conflict Merkel is in. Latest development: Russian officials suggested Navalny was poisoned in Germany as part of a campaign against the Kremlin. #lostforwords #tbc
Show Me Your Lobbyists!
After year of negotiations, the affair concerning Member of Bundestag Philipp Amthor (CDU, we reported ahead of the summer break) was the straw that broke the camel’s back on lobbying transparency. The governing parties CDU/CSU and SPD finally presented a draft bill for a lobby register for the German Bundestag.
It contains, among other things, an obligation for lobbyists to register, an obligation to adopt a code of conduct and penalties for bad behavior as high as €50,000.
Main point of criticism: The draft bill only includes the lobbying of MPs in Parliament, not the ministries or Chancellery. Still, many seem to value that Germany is trying to introduce what has become standard for many government entities, like the European Parliament, for quite some time now. If you would like more details, let us know!
For an update on the Privacy Shield, EU-China relations and history repeating, check out the PDF:
WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS
BACK TO SCHOOL Summer’s over, we are back, Parliament is back in session, and, most importantly (for a lot of families), school is starting in Germany again. Not in all of Germany though, because 16 states mean 16 different dates, and kids in Bavaria only started their vacations one week before the Berliners headed back to school again.. 16 states mean not only 16 starting dates, but 16 different social distancing, mask, and hygiene plans. Northrhine-Westfalia (NRW): Everyone has to wear masks everywhere. Bavaria: Everyone has to wear masks everywhere for two weeks. Except for the teachers. And elementary students. Berlin: Everyone has to wear masks, but not in class. Everyone, myself included, was like:
What followed was a law suit against masks for students in NRW (successful), petitions by parents for more sensible rules (ongoing) and around 40 schools closing in Berlin because of Corona cases in the first two weeks.
Everyone, myself included, was like:
Fast forward three weeks, and what can I tell you: No spreading in schools so far, schools in Berlin reopened, kids are still being educated in person and Corona-cases in Germany seem more or less stable at around 1,200-1,500 daily cases.
I am far from saying we are out of the woods, but very pleasantly surprised to still have my kids in school 5 weeks into the new school year. Not to jinx it, but after the last few months I am enjoying every single day of it. Well, as long as it lasts…