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Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Campaign posters for various parties in Mannheim, near where an attack on an AfD politician took place on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Rene Priebe | Rene Priebe

Government agrees to grant increases for students, Finance Minister Christian Lindner faces criticism over his tax plans and more news from around Germany on Thursday.


Students to receive more financial support

Following pressure from student groups, the government has announced plans to hike student loans and grants - known in Germany as Bafög - by 5 percent this year.  

Bafög was last increased by 5.75 percent in the winter semester of 2022-2023, when energy prices were soaring. Since then, the basic needs rate for students has been €452 plus a flat-rate housing allowance of €360 for those who no longer live with their parents.

According to the plans, the basic requirement is now to be raised to €475 and the flat-rate housing allowance to €380, making an increase in the maximum rate from €812 to €855. 

Additional surcharges for health and long-term care insurance, which are possible if students are no longer insured by their parents, will also be increased. However, individual factors like parental income are taken into account when setting the rate each student receives. 

Commenting on the changes, SPD education policy spokesman Oliver Kaczmarek told DPA the move meant students "will not be left alone with increased costs".

But Matthias Anbuhl, chairman of the German Students' Union (DSW), slammed the increase as too little in light of the rising cost of living. 

READ ALSO: The new rules for international students in Germany

Mannheim knife attacker detained in psychiatric ward

The 25-year-old suspect who allegedly injured an AfD local council candidate with a knife on Tuesday evening in Mannheim has been detained for attempted manslaughter and placed in a psychiatric ward, the police and public prosecutor's office announced in Mannheim on Wednesday.


The AfD candidate Heinrich Koch was injured with a knife on Tuesday evening during the pursuit of a young man who appeared to be stealing the far-right party's campaign posters.

A 25-year-old suspect was arrested and, according to investigators, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The police and public prosecutor's office announced on Wednesday that there were clear indications of mental illness during the arrest. He is not believed to have known who Heinrich Koch was at the time of the altercation. 

READ ALSO: German far-right AfD candidate 'attacked with knife' in Mannheim

Sandra Hüller set to speak at rally against the far-right 

German actress Sandra Hüller is scheduled to speak at a rally against right-wing extremism in Leipzig on Saturday, according to media reports.

The 46-year-old Oscar nominee will address the demonstrators at the demonstration titled 'Hand in Hand for Democracy and Human Rights', Hüller's management told DPA on Wednesday.

Hüller was nominated at this year's Oscars for her lead performance in the film ‘Anatomy of a Case’. She also recently played the leading role in Zone of Interest, a film charting the everyday life of the commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Rudolf Höß, 

German Oscar-nominated actress Sandra Hüller.

German Oscar-nominated actress Sandra Hüller. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/ARTE G.E.I.E. | ©VALERIE MACON / AFP

"Our declared goal is to leave neither our communities nor Europe to the right," Irena Rudolph-Kokot, one of the organisers of 'Hand in Hand Leipzig', explained. "We want a Europe based on solidarity, social justice and climate justice and clearly oppose a nationalist Europe of isolation and exclusion." 

The organisers are expecting at least 5,000 participants at the rally on Saturday from 3.00pm. Though born in the small Thuringian town of Suhl, Hüller currently lives in Leipzig. 

Germany to buy 20 more Eurofighter jets to boost defence

Germany will buy another 20 Eurofighter jets from Airbus, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, as Berlin battles to bulk up its defences.

Speaking at the International Air Show in Berlin, Scholz said the order would be placed before Germany holds its next general elections in 2025.

The new jets are in addition to another 38 that had already been ordered in 2020 as part of replacements for Germany's decades-old Tornado aircraft.


Scholz said Germany was also "committed to offering further prospects to the Eurofighter in terms of exports".

"We will ensure continuous utilisation of capacity" at Airbus's Eurofighter factory in Manching, Bavaria, said Scholz.

Germany has been on a defence spending spree after Scholz announced a €100 billion ($109-billion) special budget to bulk up its stocks in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Previously chided by NATO allies including the United States for being a laggard in defence spending, Scholz has pledged to meet the annual target of two percent of GDP from 2024.

Lindner slammed for 'unequal' tax reduction plans 

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has attracted criticism over plans to slash taxes in Germany, with the Greens and Social Democrats (SPD) saying the proposals will primarily help the rich.


"You can't demand drastic savings from other departments (...) and then demand tens of billions yourself without need," Green Party finance expert Katharina Beck told Reuters on Wednesday.

"In view of necessary investments in defence and tax cuts, it is dubious to bring tax cuts in the double-digit billion range into play," Beck explained, adding that the rich would benefit most from the reduced tax burden.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner attends a session on the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner attends a session on the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 19, 2024. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

On Wednesday afternoon, Lindner had announced plans to gradually increase the tax-free allowance to €12,336 by 2026, including a backdated increase of €180 to €11,784 in 2024. 

READ ALSO: 8 unlikely tax breaks in Germany that international residents need to know

The FDP politician also said he wanted to combat cold progresson - a phenomenon where pay increases are eaten up by inflation but taxed at a higher amount - by raising the threshold for paying the top rate of tax to €69,798 per year in 2026.

The cost of the plans is estimated at around €23 billion over the three years. 

With reporting by Imogen Goodman and DPA



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