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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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CULTURE

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday made a push for equal pay for men and women international footballers after Germany's successful run at the recent European Championships.

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

“My position on this is clear,” Scholz said after a meeting with the German Football Association (DFB) to discuss the issue.

“We talked about how we can continue to help more girls and women get excited about football. Of course, the wages at such tournaments play a major role in this,” he said.

“That’s why it makes sense to discuss equal pay. I made the suggestion and I’m very grateful that there is a willingness to discuss this issue.”

Germany scored their biggest major tournament success since 2015 at this year’s European Championships, losing to England in the final at Wembley.

Scholz attended the final and also supported the women’s team by tweeting: “It’s 2022, and women and men should be paid equally. This also applies to sport, especially for national teams.”

READ ALSO: Scholz to cheer on Germany at Euro 2022 final

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP headquarters on Tuesday.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP (German Football Association) headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Germany’s women would have received €60,000 each if they had triumphed at the tournament, while the men would have received €400,000 each had they prevailed at the Euros last year.

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the DFB, said he understood the argument “that equal work and success should also have the same value”.

“I’m willing to discuss in our committees whether our payment system is up to date or whether it should be adjusted,” he said.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg suggested that international footballers’ wages could be evened out by paying women more and men less.

Officials must now “follow up with action” after the meeting, she said in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster.

Scholz said he was “very, very proud” of the women’s performance at the Euros, even if “it didn’t quite work out”.

“I hope it will have a long-lasting effect, not only on the players themselves… but also on football in Germany,” he said.

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