Childcare subsidies cause party rift
The battle over childcare subsidies is taking its toll on the conservative party pushing for the controversial plan.
The Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, and its leader Horst Seehofer have led the campaign to pay parents a state allowance to stay home with their young children.
But on Friday Peter Ramsauer, the party’s number two and Germany’s transport minister, expressed misgivings about the idea.
He later took back his criticism after it was clarified that the parent payment would not affect any housing subsidies.
Seehofer, who also heads the state of Bavaria, was clearly not amused.
“It’s not a good idea for a CSU minister and deputy party chairman to register reservations for a piece of legislation that is so significant to the CSU,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse on Saturday.
Seehofer said the bill, which is supposed to be voted on at a cabinet meeting this Wednesday, has now been finalized.
He also said there should not be a discussion about it when he meets Merkel and Philipp Rösler, head of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) on Monday. The CDU, CSU and FDP make up Germany's governing coalition.
“I don’t see any need to talk about the plan,” Seehofer told the newspaper.
Not everyone in the party agrees. CSU politician Stefan Müller said the coalition’s future will not be decided during next year’s elections, but this year and Monday’s meeting is very important.
“On Monday all the open questions will be discussed and solutions will be talked about,” he said. He expects the childcare subsidy to be a key topic of conversation as well as a controversial Ramsauer idea to impose new road tolls.
The FDP and many CDU members are opposed to the child care subsidy. Many critics say it’s a waste of money that would be better spent expanding child care facilities, which are in desperately short supply in some parts of the country.