• Germany edition
 
SPD win grants majority to mess with Merkel
Photo: DPA

SPD win grants majority to mess with Merkel

Published: 22 Jan 2013 11:05 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Jan 2013 11:05 GMT+01:00

Sunday's win in Lower Saxony, which should result in a Social Democrat-Green state government, will give the opposition a majority over the government in the Bundesrat, giving them the power to change legislation.

"Since Lower Saxony we now have a constructive majority in the Bundesrat," SPD chief party whip Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday.

The party would use their absolute majority together with the Greens to introduce legislation through the Bundesrat ahead of September's national election, added Steinmeier.

The main opposition's chief priorities are: establishing a comprehensive minimum wage, ramping up the fight against tax evaders and altering the controversial Betreuungsgeld subsidy, which has already been passed by the Chamber of States.

The subsidy, which has come under heavy fire from members of all parties, would give every family that does not send its children to a kindergarten €150 per child per month. It is feared the money will effectively stop poorer families including many immigrants, from sending their children to child care, trapping the kids and mothers at home.

Following their win in Lower Saxony, the SPD - in various regional coalitions with Greens and Left party - now controls 36 of 69 votes in the Bundesrat where the federal states are represented. This allows the party to pass initiatives if they wish to.

State governments can suggest legislation in the Bundesrat. If passed, the laws are sent to the Bundestag lower house for approval, in a reversal of the normal procedure.

However, Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union coalition with the Free Democrats presides over a majority in the Bundestag lower house and could block the SPD's initiatives once they arrive there.

This means the upper-house-to-lower-house-path is more likely to be a way for the SPD to raise the profile of their policies in the run-up to the election rather than to implement real changes to the law, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said.

But on the other hand, the SPD/Green-controlled upper house can now also choose to block government initiatives in the next vital few months before voters go to the polls.

Merkel's cabinet will now have to look to form majorities in the upper house to pass their own initiatives - including moving forward with the energy transition and further measures to regulate financial markets.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:23 January 22, 2013 by Englishted
When you were last in power you didn't introduce a minimum wage you introduced harts 4 .

I don't trust those at the top of the party too many links to the dark days of the groß coalition and I mean gross !.
15:52 January 22, 2013 by McM
Ah yes, the in the red free lunch club and their gegen alles green evangelists can't wait to get their snouts in the trough and run the good old German economy back into massive debt again. Glad I don't have to live there and watch my taxes go down the drain again especially after the country has done so well avoiding the Eurozone financial rout . I wonder what the average German would think if they were on the pointy end of the Euro crisis recession so prevelant elsewhere in Europe .
Today's headlines
UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn
Photo: DPA

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn

Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact. READ  

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,524
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd