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Merkel's party revolts over childcare subsidy
Photo: DPA

Merkel's party revolts over childcare subsidy

Published: 02 Apr 2012 12:02 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Apr 2012 12:02 GMT+02:00

Chancellor Angela Merkel's majority in the German parliament is under threat over child care subsidies for those who care for kids at home, after 23 of her own MPs wrote an open letter in revolt at the idea.

The Betreuungsgeld subsidy would give every family that does not send its children to a kindergarten €150 per child per month. As much as €400 million has already been set aside for the plan in the 2013 budget.

But critics fear that low-income earners and immigrants would keep their children at home to boost their incomes, and that it would work as a state subsidy for traditional family structures.

The Betreuungsgeld was Merkel's concession to the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) in the last coalition agreement – the party is allied to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) but has a more conservative profile.

The CSU has been planning to use the law as one its key platforms in next year's Bavaria state elections which are due at around the same time as a federal parliamentary vote.

Family Minister Kristina Schröder, of the CDU, is aiming to finalize the bill before Easter, so it can be voted on before the summer recess.

But Merkel may not be able to count on her own coalition in parliament to get the bill passed.

The CDU/CSU majority, along with coalition partners the Free Democratic Party (FDP) stands at 19. The pro-business FDP has already distanced itself from the idea, but it's particularly embarrassing for Merkel that 23 MPs from her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) are openly opposing the idea.

MPs across all five parties represented in the German Bundestag are now opposing the Betreuungsgeld, while a number of business associations, trade unions and immigrant community organizations have also expressed scepticism.

Berlin CDU representative Karl-Georg Wellmann told Monday's Bild newspaper, "It would be clever if the chancellor would stop this nonsense law."

But Merkel is unlikely to do that, because of her sister party has made the policy one of its defining issues. CSU state politician Gerda Hasselfeldt dismissed the revolt, saying, "The Betreuungsgeld is not up for debate."

"The Betreuungsgeld is society's recognition of those parents who choose to take responsibility for raising their children themselves, or to organize it privately," she added.

"These aren't people tied to the kitchen sink or who drink the money away. The CSU has totally normal families in mind, whose children aren't more stupid later [having not been to kindergarten]."

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Your comments about this article

13:08 April 2, 2012 by boopsie
This is another attempt to penalize the traditional family in germany. People with kids deserve all the help they can get and the present government needs to give them additional subsides if they continue to support policies that make kindergartens less available to average folk.
13:51 April 2, 2012 by charlenej
How about using the 400million euro "set aside" to open up more kindergartens and improve the ones we have. Just about every single one aroud here has a waitlist of 100 kids on it. I keep reading in German publications from Nido to Der Speigel to local newspapers that families are begging for not only more kindergartens, but full-day kindgergartens for working parents. The gov't still hasn't met their goals for opening up kindergartens and is not expected to meet those for 2013. That is where that money should be going first.
14:45 April 2, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
Please look at the picture.

The stupid woman has a TV set on a wooden "box" that could be easily pulled over by the toddler and kill him.

Think I'm kidding? Chicago has had around 5 - 10 young children killed in the past few months from this.
15:58 April 2, 2012 by raandy
Kindergarten is a great thing to help children develop social,educational and physical skills by trained professionals.

I would tend to agree that giving out the 150 Euros would result in many low income people keeping their children home and denying them a chance to advance those skills.Very unfortunate but realistic call.

The TV is definitely dangerous with that cord beside it,
16:41 April 2, 2012 by derExDeutsche
kindergarten? you mean Government Indoctrination Stations. WHo knows, it'll probably help integrate immigrant children to the Public Service Unions way of thinking.
17:18 April 2, 2012 by Wise Up!
Why stop at 150 euros? Why not 1150 euros? This way more people will have kids! Either way it's an anal extaction. When does personal responsibility kick in?
18:16 April 2, 2012 by boopsie
@ der Exdeutsche

Yes, indoctrination stations is exactly what they are and kindergartens are the scourge of the german family. Your not serious, are you? Integration training won't do much good when the parents don't wish to integrate.
10:07 April 3, 2012 by thelamarvelous1
My children go to German kindergarten and I can't stand it. They end up speaking more German than English because there is no proper balance established. (Background: My wife speaks German to the children, I speak English to them and they speak both excellently.)

Since I am home, and my wife works, I would love to take that extra time and teach them things that they "learn" in the kindergarten in English, that they pretty much already know in German.

My children have friends from extracurricular activities like ball school and gymnastics and still get invited to birthday parities and the like. They would be just as socially competent outside the realm of kindergarten. They don't need to learn how to sit still and listen to a story because I as a parent read them stories all the time.

For neglectful parents (and funny the parents who are neglectful will never admit it - nor do they see it) kindergarten is a great idea. Pay the money get someone else to raise your kid.

For parents who have no choice because of work, kindergarten is good because you know your child is taken care of and is learning and you don't have to worry - fine. (Then again there is a difference if two people are working or just a single mother/father is working. If two people are working... that is a choice based on lifestyle desires.)

But for people like me who stay home and choose to raise their children a certain way (right), we are the people Germany should be supporting because our kids tend (usually) to not end up being the drudges of society.

In closing, we shouldn't judge anyone either way, but let's look at this as a great assistance to people who look after their kids. The bad parents will get theirs eventually anyway. (and by the way, my children are pretty ingrained in kindergarten now so I won't be getting that money before anyone says the wrong thing)
10:50 April 9, 2012 by sunshine 1a
Our local kindergarten in the Kusel area will not accept American kids, even when slots are still available. The priority children are the EU children (understandable), but they refuse American children. The teacher stated that most of these children do not continue their education in the German schools and she sees no reason to work with them in the kindergarten. She stated that this was approved through the Kusel goverment. This kindergarten has had to relocate 2 teachers because of the lack of children. In this day and age, a multi cultural kindergarten is a very good idea.
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