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POLITICS

SPD calls for higher taxes on the rich

Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) is calling for higher taxes on the rich in light of a widening income gap between the country’s wealthiest and poorest residents.

SPD calls for higher taxes on the rich
A girl sits at a closed playground in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Some 26 percent of Germans are poor or in danger of slipping into poverty, according to a report expected on Monday from German Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat.

“We need a new solidarity. This will be impossible without the help of those with the highest wages and the most capital,” SPD MP Karl Lauterbach told the newspaper Neue Presse in its Monday edition.

Lauterbach called for income tax relief for the poorest Germans.

But he said taxes on inheritances and other assets should be increased.

“We must consider placing a larger share of the tax burden on the income that grows the most quickly – and often without a great deal of effort,” Lauterbach told the newspaper.

The SPD is the junior governing partner in a parliamentary grand coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats.

Fritz Kuhn, chairman of the opposition Green Party, said the governing coalition has failed to take action.

The coalition must “quit with the lamenting and finally take action,” Kuhn told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung on Monday.

Klaus Ernst, a chief of the hard-line socialist party The Left, said the poverty report to be presented on Monday documents the failure of the SPD.

“While they have been in power the number of millionaires has doubled while poverty has increased significantly,” Ernst told the Berliner Zeitung.

POLITICS

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP

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