State premier questions constitutional debt-brake

Saarland State Premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said that Germany's constitutional restriction on allowing debt to go above a certain level has been made redundant by the financial crisis.

State premier questions constitutional debt-brake
Photo: DPA

Speaking in Wednesday’s edition of Die Welt newspaper, Kramp-Karrenbauer said the constitutional debt ceiling had been conceived before the economic crisis began.

“But if this situation doesn’t exist anymore because of the national debt crisis and the necessary rescue measures, then the economic basis has changed,” she said.

Kramp-Karrenbauer also warned against allowing Greece to go bankrupt. “No expert can 100 percent rule out the danger that this would lead to a domino effect, where banks and states fall and at the end the currency union collapses,” she said.

She also warned that a Greek bankruptcy would not be easy to control. “At the moment we don’t have any instruments for an orderly bankruptcy,” she added.

DAPD/The Local/bk

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Why a row has broken out over ‘race’ in Germany’s constitution

A row has broken out in Germany over the term "race" in the country's constitution as the George Floyd killing in US police custody spills over into national politics.

Why a row has broken out over 'race' in Germany's constitution
Photo: DPA

Paragraph three in Germany's Basic Law (Grundgesetz) states that “no person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith or religious or political opinions.”

But the Green party this week took aim at the word “race” pushing for a change to the constitution in place since 1949 as a bulwark against dictatorships like the Nazi regime which championed racist politics more than seven decades ago.

“There are no 'races'. There are human beings,” said Green party co-leader Robert Habeck, noting that a “strong sign” against racism would be to remove the term from the document.

Backing the call, Germany's commissioner for combatting anti-Semitism Felix Klein said: “The term race is a social construct that is designed to devalue and to discriminate against people.”

The far-left Linke party and the business-friendly FDP have all lined up behind the push, with some critics of the term calling for it to be replaced with words like “ethnic origin”.

Even Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have broken a silence on the subject to voice openness to look at the issue.

READ ALSO: Grundgesetz: What does Germany's Basic Law really mean?

'Racial mania'

Drawn up after World War II, Germany's Basic Law has been amended 62 times, including to take into account European integration and German reunification.

But unchanging among its key tenets are the guarantees of equality before the law.

Green co-leader Robert Habeck said the term 'race' should be removed from Germany's Grundgesetz. Photo: DPA

With the debate heating up, the justice ministry has defended the place for the term in the constitution, noting that it “clearly makes no references to the existence of different human races nor of the acceptance of this sense”.

The authors of the constitution had in fact sought to “set a clear sign against racial mania” championed by the Nazis, according to the ministry.

Adolf Hitler's regime championed his claims on racial “purity” and purported the superiority of the “Germanic race” — which he called the Aryan “master race”.

In the extreme push for this, the regime branded the Jews a dangerous “race”, putting in place an extermination programme that murdered six million Jews.

The far-right AfD has also spoken out against an amendment of the constitution.

READ ALSO: Germany 'not doing enough to fight racism' as country sees rise in reported discrimination cases

“If there are races, then there should not be objections to the current version of the Basic Law, because then it rightly fits in it. If, on the other hand, there are no races, then there would be no racism,” argued deputy spokesman for the party Stephan Brandner in an interview with the RND newspaper group.

With the row heating up, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said he “won't stand in the way” of opening a discussion on amending the wording.

It is “much more important for us to wipe out racism”, he added.

Conservative daily Die Welt warned against hypocrisy in the debate.

“Some Germans are now so evolved that they find the word 'race' unbearable… but they won't send their children to schools with many Arabs and Turks, but to places where they find their same ethnic groups.

“And that is exactly what needs to change if one takes the Basic Law seriously, rather than abusing this noble document … for linguistic self-righteousness.”

By Hui Min Neo