• Germany edition
 
Coalition strikes election benefits deal
Photo: DPA

Coalition strikes election benefits deal

Published: 05 Nov 2012 10:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Nov 2012 10:46 GMT+01:00

After more than seven hours of negotiations between Merkel's conservatives and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) at a coalition caucus stretching into the early morning hours, the parties agreed to axe the doctor's office fee of €10, the so-called Praxisgebühr, as of January.

Introduced in 2004 the quarterly fee has failed to reduce unnecessary trips to specialists, and instead increased overhead for clinics and surgeries.

In exchange for winning that concession, the FDP agreed to back a benefit for parents who care for their young children at home, starting in August 2013.

The online service of the news weekly Der Spiegel called it a "Summit of Gifts" ahead of the general election next fall, intended to shore up support for the governing parties whose majority is under threat.

"There were presents for everyone so close to the election year - not only for the voters but also for the individual coalition partners," it wrote.

While Merkel's Christian Democrats are leading in the polls, their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), is said to face a tough re-election battle in a state vote next year.

And the FDP, whose priority in its election platforms has long been tax cuts, has seen this aim thwarted by Merkel's austerity drive and demands for a balanced budget by 2014.

In a poll released on Sunday, the FDP again fell beneath the five percent hurdle required to take seats in parliament.

Analysts say the most likely electoral outcome next year will be a repeat of the "grand coalition" between the conservatives and the Social Democrats, with Merkel at the helm, last seen from 2005-2009.

The benefit for stay-at-home parents, the brainchild of traditionalists in the CSU, has been criticised for discouraging women from working outside the home, and for compromising the integration of immigrant children who might benefit from day care.

The proposal would pay families with one- and two-year-old children €100 per month through July 31, 2014 - if they do not use state-sponsored childcare. After that, such families would receive €150 per month.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), searching for issues of its own to wield against the mighty Merkel, has pledged a court challenge against the benefit, derisively dubbed a "Herdprämie", or literally "stove bonus".

Thomas Oppermann, speaker of the SPD in the Bundestag, said the agreement on the stay-at-home benefit was an election year gift for the SPD.

"Paying money for kids who stay at home, that is not right," Oppermann said Monday morning on Deutschlandfunk public radio.

The parties also agreed to a small increase in pensions for low-income households, pledging to work out the details at a subsequent meeting.

In its first major caucus meeting in a year, the coalition also agreed to support €750 million more for transport projects, an issue driven by the CSU.

AFP/DAPD/The Local/mbw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany made it harder Friday for people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia to apply for asylum after lawmakers classified the three Balkan countries as safe, with respect for basic rights. READ  

German Muslims rally against extremism
Muslims pray in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on Friday outside a mosque which was damaged in an arson attack. Photo: DPA

German Muslims rally against extremism

Muslims across Germany held a day of prayers and rallies on Friday to condemn both Islamic extremism and a backlash against their faith that has seen arson attacks on mosques. READ  

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup
The trainers on the air strip in Hohn, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: Bundeswehr.

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup

Military trainers flew to northern Iraq from Germany on Friday, ahead of a huge delivery of weapons from the German military, but things didn’t initially go as planned. READ  

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches
Photo: DPA

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches

UPDATE: Munich will play host to four Euro 2020 games, European football’s governing body Uefa announced in Geneva on Friday, but London was the real winner. READ  

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils
The scene by the bus stop outside the school in Diepholz. Photo: DPA

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils

An 18-year-old drove into a group of students outside a school in western Germany on Friday morning, injuring several. READ  

View from Germany
'In a globalized world we don't need more loners'
'No' campaign supporters celebrate in Edinburgh after the results were announced. Photo: DPA

'In a globalized world we don't need more loners'

UPDATE: The German government welcomed the result of the Scottish independence referendum on Friday, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier calling it the "right decision". READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's beer
Photo: DPA

Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's beer

The Local's Oktoberfest guide chugs some of the Bavarian tipple fueling this whole shindig. READ  

Berlin squat ripped apart by fire
Kreuzberg's Cuvrybrache. Photo: DPA

Berlin squat ripped apart by fire

UPDATE: One of Berlin’s biggest squats was torn apart by a fire on Thursday night following an argument. READ  

Sterilized woman gets pregnant, sues doctors
Photo: DPA

Sterilized woman gets pregnant, sues doctors

A woman who gave birth after becoming sterilized has tried and failed to sue the hospital which carried out the operation. READ  

Thousands queue for Apple's iPhone 6
Queues outside the Apple Store in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Thousands queue for Apple's iPhone 6

UPDATE: Apple’s new iPhone 6 went on sale on Friday morning, leading to long queues outside stores across Germany. Berlin's Apple Store sold out of the iPhone 6 Plus in an hour. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,343
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd