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

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Today in Germany: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier review a guard of honour at the Bellegarde airport in Limoges on June 10, 2024. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

German President warns against the dangers of nationalism, calls grow for Chancellor Scholz to step down, non-EU workers face significantly higher living costs in Germany than their home country and more news on Tuesday.

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'Never forget damage done by nationalism and hate', German president says in France

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against the dangers of nationalism Monday, as he visited a World War II massacre site in France a day after European elections saw advances for the far right.

It is "fittingly on the day after the European elections that I say: let us never forget the damage done in Europe by nationalism and hate. Let us never forget the miracle of reconciliation the European Union has worked," Steinmeier said at a commemoration ceremony for the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, where Nazi SS soldiers massacred civilians in 1944.

Among the German head of state's audience was President Emmanuel Macron, who called new national elections to France's parliament Sunday, after his party's disastrous showing in the European vote.

While Macron hopes to break the deadlock of a hung parliament that has dogged his second term since 2022, the far-right National Rally (RN) looks set to make significant gains from its current 88 lawmakers.

"It is in this memory, in the ashes of Oradour, that we have to ensure the strength of this reconciliation is reborn," Macron said, calling post-war Franco-German ties "the lifeblood of our European project".

European elections: What happens next in Brussels after shock results?

Calls grow for Chancellor Olaf Scholz to step down

After Germany's governing parties suffered a stinging defeat at the European elections, calls are growing for Chancellor Olaf Scholz to step down. 

His Social Democrats (SPD) scored their worst result ever, coming in third at around 14 percent behind the far-right AfD at around 16 percent and well behind the conservative CDU-CSU bloc's 30 percent.

The Greens recorded 12 percent while the liberal FDP took five percent.

In the former East Germany, where three key regional elections are to be held later this year, the AfD was the biggest party, with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper branding Scholz and his government a "coalition of losers".

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) queues in a line to cast his vote for the European Parliament Elections at a polling station in Potsdam, eastern Germany, on June 9, 2024.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) queues in a line to cast his vote for the European Parliament Elections at a polling station in Potsdam, eastern Germany, on June 9, 2024. Photo by Kay Nietfeld / POOL / AFP

Markus Söder, leader of the conservatives in the southern state of Bavaria, also called for new elections as soon as possible.

The three-way coalition "no longer has the support of the population", Söder told the RTL broadcaster, calling for Germany to follow in the footsteps of France.

READ ALSO: Germany will 'not hold snap election' after EU vote

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Der Spiegel weekly said the EU election drubbing was a personal defeat for Scholz, whose face appeared on many campaign posters alongside his party's top candidate.

"Scholz put a lot of himself into the campaign, and it's been to no avail. On the contrary, his strong presence may even have reinforced the downward trend," the magazine said.

Der Spiegel called on Scholz to make a strong statement about his intentions for the future.

"After this personal defeat, he must say how he wants to continue to lead... Otherwise the country risks paralysis," the magazine said.

Even voices from within Scholz's SPD were calling his future into question.

"With 14 percent nobody has an uncontested claim to lead the SPD," said Sigmar Gabriel, a former leader of the Social Democrats.

Speaking later Monday, Scholz would not be drawn on the possibility of an election but acknowledged the result was "bad for all three governing parties", adding that no one should "simply go back to business as usual".

He also expressed concerns about the growing support for right-wing parties across the European Union.

"We must never get used to this and it must always be our task to push them back, and to ensure that there are clear majorities in favour of parties with a clear commitment to our democracy," he said.

READ ALSO:

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Germany's AfD excludes top candidate from EU delegation

The top candidate for Germany's far-right AfD at the EU polls will be excluded from the party's delegation at the European Parliament due to a string of scandals, his party said on Monday. 

Maximilian Krah has been accused of having suspicious links to Russia and China, while comments that he made minimising the crimes of the Nazis' notorious SS also prompted the AfD's expulsion from the far-right group within the European Parliament.

A day after making strong gains and coming in second place in Germany's EU elections, the party's newly elected MEPs voted to boot the 47-year-old out of their parliamentary delegation, a spokesman confirmed.

A poster with the logo of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is displayed in the town of Abensberg in Bavaria in September, 2022.

A poster with the logo of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party displayed in the town of Abensberg in Bavaria.. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nicolas Armer

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Krah will still enter parliament, however.

The MEP has found himself at the centre of a deepening crisis after one of his aides in the EU parliament was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

READ ALSO: Germany's far right AfD sees strong gains in local eastern elections 

Many foreign professionals in Germany 'face higher cost of living than at home'

For skilled workers and labourers who come to Germany from outside the EU, the cost of living is usually significantly more expensive than in their home country.

According to new figures from the Federal Statistical Office, the cost of living in 2021 was 67 percent lower in India and Egypt than in Germany, making them the lowest among the most important countries of origin.

Meanwhile, goods and services in Georgia, Vietnam and Tunisia cost 60 percent less than in Germany.

In contrast, the cost of living in the United States was seven percent higher than in Germany. 

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Zelensky arrives in Germany to meet the Chancellor

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday night announced his arrival in Germany for talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and to participate in a conference on Ukrainian reconstruction.

"Chancellor Scholz and I will discuss further defence assistance, the expansion of Ukraine's air defence system, and joint arms production" ahead of a major peace summit in Switzerland this weekend, Zelensky wrote on X.

Berlin recently authorised Ukraine to use German weapons to strike targets in Russia, having long refused to do so for fear of provoking an escalation of the war with Russia.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Germany abandoned its traditional position of pacifism and became the second largest supplier of military equipment to Kyiv after the United States.

Zelensky is due to participate on Tuesday and Wednesday in a conference on reconstructing Ukraine, which will be attended by 10 prime ministers, other government representatives and the private sector.

"In the face of Russia's air terror, urgent solutions for Ukraine's energy sector will be our top priority," said Zelensky.

READ ALSO: Zelensky arrives in Berlin to meet Scholz and address Bundestag

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