Sun Oct 30th, 2005 at 05:39:06 AM EST
Promoted back from front page ~ whataboutbob
Ten days ago, I reported that ministers for Germany's new "Grand Coalition" government (= Social Democrats + Christian Democrat/Socialist parties) were finally chosen.
However, that was only the prerequisite to start the actual coalition talks: talks on what policies the new government is supposed to implement. Below some the parties already agreed on (with surprises, at least to me), and another news that makes me feel a good fortune teller (hah!):
There is agreement to drop one of Germany's silliest yet longest-lasting laws, the one granting the so-called Eigenheimzulage (private home bonus). This law was meant as a subsidy to 'help' people purchase their first private home, but any 'help' was compensated by the market, with estate developers raising prices in response to higher demand. That is: this subsidy only really helped sellers, not buyers of homes.
Let's do 'reforms': there is 'compromise' both on the issue of easing protection against firing (ah the neoliberal consensus), and about raising the VAT by an as yet undecided amount (this was a CDU demand fiercely opposed by the SPD and some parts of even the CSU during the campaign).
Also agreed is something hitting close to one of my hobby horses: to reduce retirement fund budget deficits, they plan to raise retirement age, and measures to combat the trend to early retirement1.
The budget will be extended in one field: transport infrastructure. (I fear most of it will go for roads or silly prestige objects like the maglev in Munich.)
The CDU, for the time being, gave up any plans to curb regenerative energy supports (feed-in tariffs, solar power and research subsidies, energy tax) - following a to me surprisingly strong defense from the SPD. (On the other hand, the CDU province PMs will probably continue to raise stumbling blocks, like: new zoning laws.) There is still no agreement on whether to extend the life of nuclear plants (the CDU already gave up on building new ones; note: during the campaign, energy bosses themselves contradicted Merkel on extended-life power plant electricity being cheaper).
Finally: in the minister roundup, I noted that while the SPD ministers include many top dogs, a bright new star from Eastern Germany is missing: Matthias Platzeck (good to note the name), popular PM of Brandenburg state. I speculated that maybe he is:
'sheltered' for a later higher role (maybe even the next chancellor candidate?)
And lo', today I read he is candidate for vice party leadership at the next SPD congress! Expect to hear more of him, especially when the Grand Coalition comes to a premature end.
- Since early retirement is a method to 'rationalise' without firing people, the planned measures alone will only shift deficits from retirement funds to unemployment funds - and this is my hobby-horse: that the supposed "demographic problem" is a giant misunderstanding, the age structure doesn't lead to budget deficits, problems lie elsewhere.↑