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POLITICS

Steinmeier launches bid to unseat Merkel

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Sunday launched his bid to unseat Chancellor Angela Merkel, as his Social Democratic Party signed off on its campaign platform for this September's general election.

Steinmeier launches bid to unseat Merkel
Photo: DPA

Steinmeier addressed a convention seeking to galvanise the centre-left SPD demoralised by a series of electoral defeats, culminating in a crushing loss in last Sunday’s European elections.

“We have the right answers to the crisis, I am totally convinced. We have the right programme for the future of our country … Germany needs a Social Democratic chancellor. Together we will achieve that. We want to win and we will win,” he said.

Calling on the enthusiastic, banner-waving crowd to launch a “fiery election battle” with Merkel, he said he wanted to be “chancellor for all Germans.”

“I tell you, this thing is open and we will keep it open and we will win out in the end,” said the 53-year-old, who since 2005 has been foreign minister and vice-chancellor under Merkel in Germany’s unwieldy grand coalition government.

The SPD received a drubbing in last weekend’s European Parliament elections, drawing just 20.8 percent of the vote, a record low. An opinion poll last week showed Steinmeier, more than 30 percent behind Merkel as the Germans’ preference as chancellor.

“Last Sunday was not a good day. It was rubbish. I was angry like you,” Steinmeier said. “But today is a new Sunday. Today we are here to look forward.”

The 500 delegates meeting in Berlin hope the speech will mark the turning point for the party’s fortunes. Steinmeier himself told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag it was “the most important speech of his political career.”

Steinmeier tried to make the argument how he would solve Germany’s problems differently than Merkel, who is seen by many Germans as a cool and disciplined leader in times of economic crisis.

But as foreign minister and vice-chancellor in a coalition government with Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats, Steinmeier will have to walk a fine line in the next three months

The SPD also hopes its election platform of tax cuts for lower-income workers and tax hikes on wealthier Germans will help it turn the tide to unseat Merkel’s conservatives.

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POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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