• 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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
Expat Dispatches
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Kleingärten in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

'Look at those German shanty towns!'

Visitors to Germany can sometimes be confused by the country's love of allotments in cities, known as a Kleingarten. Teacher and blogger Kathleen Ralf tells us what it's all about. READ  

Lightning rods further delay Berlin Airport
Closed until further notice: Berlin's troubled new airport. Photo: DPA

Lightning rods further delay Berlin Airport

Too few lightning rods and an undersized emergency generator have prevented part of Berlin's new airport from opening. Safety inspectors refused to sign off on the airport's north pier, thwarting progress on the massively delayed construction project. READ  

Two thirds of Berlin's tourist flats now illegal
Photo: DPA

Two thirds of Berlin's tourist flats now illegal

Two thirds of Berlin's 12,000 tourist apartments advertised on sites such as Airbnb were being run illegally from Friday following a law change, leaving hosts open to potential punishment. READ  

Lost goat halts Munich Airport trains
Fritzi underneath the train. Photo: Freiwillige Feuerwehr Unterschließheim/DPA

Lost goat halts Munich Airport trains

A lost pet goat called Fritzi halted trains to Munich Airport and had to be rescued from the tracks after suffering a concussion. READ  

Germany crowned U19 European Champions
Photo: EPA/Tibor Illyes HUNGARY OUT

Germany crowned U19 European Champions

Germany’s U19 football team added to a glorious summer of sport for the country by winning the European Championships in Budapest on Thursday night. READ  

World War I anniversary
100 years ago, Germans celebrated war's outbreak
August 1914. German soldiers march off to war in France. Photo: DPA

100 years ago, Germans celebrated war's outbreak

A hundred years ago on Friday Germany declared war on Russia and was preparing for an attack on France in the hope that Britain would stay neutral. Four years on, famine was ravaging the country and two million soldiers had been killed on the battlefield. READ  

Environment Agency urges fast fracking ban
Photo: DPA

Environment Agency urges fast fracking ban

Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is encouraging lawmakers to hurry up and ban fracking in all but name, saying the process is too dangerous to even consider allowing. READ  

German of the Week
'Now I can grow cannabis at home'
Günter Weiglein. Photo: DPA

'Now I can grow cannabis at home'

Günter Weiglein is one of three men in Germany who is allowed to grow his own cannabis thanks to a court ruling last week. But he tells The Local he’s not celebrating just yet. READ  

Germany tops penis enlargement table
Do your wurst, doc. Photo: DPA

Germany tops penis enlargement table

Germany is the world’s leader in penis enlargements, with five times as many people in the country undergoing the procedure than anywhere else in the world. Globally, Germany carries out the fourth highest amount of cosmetic surgery operations. READ  

The Local List
The best words in Austrian German
Which one is the Austrian word for tomato? Photo: APA/dpa

The best words in Austrian German

If you’ve lived in Germany, or you learnt Hochdeutsch at school, you may be surprised by some of the language differences between Austria and parts of Germany. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
Your lottery numbers are 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Five reasons to visit Oktoberfest (and five not to)
Photo: DPA
Society
Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,290
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd