News Bites

The North Rhine-Westphalia chapter of the far-right AfD party received an illegal €49,000 donation in 2016 from a Dutch foundation – the same one that gave €150,000 to an AfD district chapter in southern Germany, it emerged on Friday. Both payments, along with a €130,000 donation from a Swiss drugs company, have been returned.

Angela Merkel visited Chemnitz on Friday, three months after the violent death of a German triggered far-right protests in the eastern city. The chancellor met with Saxony’s state premier and the local mayor. (Tagesspiegel)

Commenting on Britain’s cabinet crisis over Brexit, a German government spokesperson said a disorderly departure of Britain from the EU would be the worst-case scenario.

Alice Weidel, co-floor leader of the Alternative for Germany, rejected accusations she dropped the ball when her electoral district failed to immediately report donations worth €130,000 and €150,000. Some politicians have urged her to resign.

A majority of Germans surveyed – 56% – now think Angela Merkel should stay on as chancellor till 2021, up 7 points since January. Some 41% want her to resign early. (ARD)

Merkel’s favored candidate to succeed her as party leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, should become the new CDU head, winning 46% support among party members, a survey showed. Rival Friedrich Merz got 31% and Jens Spahn 12%. (ARD)

Horst Seehofer, 69, Interior Minister and leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, will resign as the party head on January 19. He did not refer to his position as minister, although some want him to give up that post as well.

The Greens party closed in on Angela Merkel’s Christian Union alliance, grabbing 23% of the votes in an election poll, up six points from last week. Merkel’s group was stable at 26%. The Social Democrats and Alternative for Germany dropped slightly to third place with 14% each. (ARD)

Berlin should not force coal power plant operators to shut down their operations by 2020, but reach agreements with utilities to take plants out of commission by 2022, possibly in return for compensation, a government committee has tentatively agreed.

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Pocketbook politics

CDU hopefuls trip over each other to offer tax relief to party base

Merz, Kramp-Karrenbauer and Spahn are using tax reform as a sign of how they plan to revitalize the Christian Democratic Union, as they race to succeed Merkel as the party's chairperson.

Be our guest

Germany pins hopes on immigration law to fill skilled-worker gap

Despite hiccups and criticism, a draft of Germany's first-ever, liberalized immigration law addresses the most urgent concerns of business.

Mutual Respect

Popularity of teaching profession across Europe is worst in Germany

Most Germans wouldn't recommend their children become teachers, according to a major international survey. The less respect teachers get in society, the worse the students will perform.

Ask a German

Handelsblatt explains

Much about Germany is confusing or surprising to foreigners - and even to Germans. Our editors provide clarity.

Swan song

Merkel backs Macron call for European army in European Parliament speech

Chancellor extols ideals of European solidarity but maintains strictly German perspective.

Overstaying His Welcome

Horst Seehofer gives up party post, wants to stay in cabinet

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is stepping down as the CSU's party chief after electoral losses. But he's holding on tight to his government post in a break with parliamentary protocol, though there are strong candidates for the job.

handelsblatt explains

German political parties

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have started coalition talks with the Free Democrats and The Greens to form a new government. What do these parties stand for?

Pressure on Berlin

French finance minister: We need a European empire

European unity should be more than just a photo opportunity, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an exclusive interview. But while France is more than willing, Germany remains reluctant.

bavarian contrarian

Horst Seehofer to step down as CSU party chair

Media reports suggest Germany’s interior minister will resign as CSU party leader this week, and may step down as minister early next year.

UN pact

10 years on, Germany still lags in inclusive education

Germany has made little progress in moving special-needs children from special to regular schools. In fact, the German labor market has a better track record with handicapped adults.

Handelsblatt Explains

Why even Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has a politics problem

As party politics seeps into decisions about who sits on the top courts of the US and Poland, Germany defends its reputation for judicial independence. But even here, the lines are more blurred that it might seem.

Spitzenkandidat

Merkel ally Manfred Weber leads center-right in EU vote to replace Juncker

The CSU official faces a rocky road in his controversial path to the top EU job, as he has no government experience and speaks only two languages.

Mini-Merkel

Kramp-Karrenbauer weighed down by Merkel baggage in CDU succession race

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s path to the CDU leadership is much stonier as the party turns away from its longtime leader.

Rohwedder murder, stasi or RAF?

Reunification

Stasi may have carried out assassination once blamed on RAF

The widow of a high-ranking German official says her husband's murder resulted from his trying to trace money stolen from East Germany's ruling party.

blackrock friedrich merz

Political liability

After BlackRock raid, Merz is on the defensive

Vying to succeed Angela Merkel as party leader, Friedrich Merz suffered a setback Tuesday as prosecutors raided BlackRock’s Munich office, suspecting tax evasion.

eu digital tax proposal

Internet economy

Signs of compromise in EU digital tax dispute

A proposal gaining traction in Brussels would delay the launch of the EU digital tax until 2021 and scrap it if a global tax deal is reached before then.

EEC lesson

The EU’s Brexit solution: trade between East and West Germany

Amid rumors about a special Brexit customs arrangement, German economists fondly recall the special Cold War-era trade deal that East and West Germany had, all thanks to a powerful political compromise. Could it work in a post-Brexit era too?

Pro-business

Merkel gives way on tax reform, ahead of national congress

Reform of the increasingly redundant “solidarity surcharge” tax could spark the German coalition government’s next big showdown. Billions in tax relief are at stake.

Trouble in Tehran

US brushes aside German resistance to Iran sanctions

Germany and the EU's attempts to protect European companies from US sanctions on Iran are not working. And they can't stop the Iranian economy from becoming isolated as more sanctions are imposed.

Cash chows

Why Germany keeps wiring billions to its farmers

This summer’s drought prompted Berlin once again to give hundreds of millions of euros to German farmers. Clever lobbying has turned the agricultural industry into the biggest recipient of subsidies.

Activist immigrants

Berlin, the European capital for political exiles

From Ai Weiwei to Laura Poitras, the German metropolis has drawn some of the world’s most famous political exiles. What’s the attraction?

Long march

The man who would be chancellor: Merz’s delayed political comeback

Ousted from his senior CDU role by Angela Merkel over a decade ago, Friedrich Merz has networked, schemed, and quietly waited for the moment that came this week.

Them next door

Germany’s odd lack of clarity on neighborhood noise pollution

One neighbor’s aural torture is another neighbor’s beautiful music. But how loud is too loud? The question causes around three-quarters of all neighborly conflicts and is a major source of stress for locals. But strangely, it is also one area Germany does not have clear rules on.

Return match

Friedrich Merz, smarting from old Merkel wounds, signals quest for party chair

The former parliamentary leader could return the Christian Democrats to their conservative roots — and settle some old scores with Angela Merkel while he’s at it.

Circling the drain

After Hesse, a gloomy outlook for Germany’s SPD

The party of Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt is failing to take responsibility for the recent election losses. The Social Democrats are slipping out of the mainstream as German politics becomes more fractious.

vote fallout

Angela Merkel steps down as CDU party leader

After her party’s disastrous showing in two state elections, Ms. Merkel said she would not stand again to lead the Christian Democrats as she seeks to prepare the party to replace her as chancellor.

Home rentals

Cities crack down on Airbnb, but government steers clear

German cities including Hamburg and Berlin are tightening the screw on users of the home-rental platform Airbnb, but the federal government continues to be strangely uninterested.

Pyrrhic victory

Merkel’s CDU makes huge losses in Hesse election

Germany’s two biggest parties achieved their worst result in more than half a century in Hesse, making Angela Merkel’s future look uncertain, both as CDU leader and as chancellor.

Digital services tax

German business mobilizes against EU digital tax

Germany’s finance minister faces a tricky balancing act on the EU’s proposed digital services tax, which has the support of the French government but is strongly opposed by the US.

Balancing Act

Coal commission calls for surge in investment to offset coal phaseout

The commission tasked with finding ways to quit coal-fired power in Germany listed suggestions for helping affected regions, which include massive investments and a warning that federal aid pledged is not enough.

housing costs germany inequality, rents

sky high

Surging rents are driving a wedge through German society

Income inequality in Germany is on the rise because of rising housing costs, according to a major new study. Younger generations are especially feeling the pain.

Climate emergency

Germany’s great environmental failure

Not long ago, Germany was seen as a model of climate responsibility. But it will fail to reach its 2020 emissions targets. Is there a way to make industry greener?