• Germany's news in English
 

SPD win grants majority to mess with Merkel

Published: 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
Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'
Sudeten Germans practising traditional dance at a gathering in 2014. Photo: DPA

Sudeten Germans give up 'right to homeland'

The Sudeten German Homeland Association has given up its claim to the group's former home in parts of the Czech Republic, quieting one of the final echoes of the Second World War. READ  

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan
Families Minister Manuela Schwesig. Photo: DPA

Minister draws fire over wage transparency plan

Families Minister Manuela Schwesig confirmed on Sunday that she wants a new law allowing women to compare their wages with men doing similar work, provoking angry reactions from employers. READ  

Police wind down Bremen terror response
Heavily-armed police on patrol outside Bremen cathedral. Photo: DPA

Police wind down Bremen terror response

Police in Bremen said that the risk of a terrorist attack had been reduced in the city after they arrested two suspected arms dealers. The city remains under high alert, with special protection for the Jewish community. READ  

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone
Photo: DPA

Germany's Schäuble softens Greece tone

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday Greece's new hard-left government needs "a bit of time" but is committed to implementing necessary reforms to resolve its debt crisis. READ  

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo
Photo: DPA

UK Pegida rally dwarfed by counter-demo

An estimated 375 people turned out for the Germany-based PEGIDA movement's first demonstration in Britain on Saturday, but were outnumbered by a 2,000-strong crowd of counter-protesters, police said. READ  

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote
Photo: DPA

Greek PM vows to 'start working hard' after vote

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed Friday to "start working hard" to implement vital reforms in the stricken eurozone country, after Germany's parliament approved a four month extension to its bailout. READ  

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce
Photo: DPA

Ukraine: troop deaths 'serious breach' of truce

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared the killing of three government troops by pro Moscow rebels a "serious breach of the ceasefire", during a telephone call Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, her office said. READ  

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps
Trouble at the top. Photo: DPA

Man wins court battle over loud footsteps

Germany's highest civil court ruled in favour of a man who swapped the carpet in his new apartment for parquet flooring, incurring the wrath of the retired couple who lived below him over his loud footsteps. READ  

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday
Photo: DPA

Teachers to strike nationwide from Monday

Teachers all over the country are expected to stike starting Monday, German education trade union GEW said, after negotiations with the wage commission of the federal states (TdL) failed to achieve results. READ  

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes
Andre Shepherd at the European Court of Justice in June 2014. Photo: DPA

EU court deals blow to US Iraq objector's hopes

American soldier Andre Shepherd, who applied for asylum in Germany as a conscientious objector against the war in Iraq after going AWOL from his unit, saw a judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) go against him on Thursday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
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

3,199
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd