Germany

The German parliament met on June 30 to elect the country’s largely symbolic president. What should have been a fairly straightforward affair, however, turned into a political embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel. The new election was made necessary by the resignation of Horst Koehler on May 31, after a public outcry over his comments suggesting German military involvement in Afghanistan was commercially motivated. Koehler’s resignation came as Merkel’s governing right-wing coalition was struggling in opinion polls.
The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in crisis, following the resignation of Germany’s president Horst Koehler on May 31. Koehler — a former head of the International Monetary Fund, and German president since 2004 — resigned after a public backlash against comments he made connecting the German economy with increased overseas military deployments.
On May 15, German left-wing party Die Linke held its national congress in the eastern city of Rostock, electing a new national leadership and debating its new draft program. At the conference, charismatic left-wing firebrand Oskar Lafontaine stepped down as the party’s co-leader for health reasons. Lafontaine, the former head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and finance minister, quit the SPD in 1999 because of the party’s neoliberal policies.
Germany’s ruling centre-right coalition suffered a double defeat on May 9, when it lost its ruling majority in an important state election in North-Rhine Westphalia. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU) scored its lowest ever vote in the state, dropping 14 points to only 34.6%, on a par with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which slipped to 34.5%. Support for the arch-neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) — the CDU’s coalition partner on a state and federal level — stagnated at 6.8%. The Greens emerged as the big winners, doubling its vote to 12.1%.

Tens of thousands of people joined counter-protests against far-right marches across Germany on May 1. Sozialistische Alternative website said in Berlin, 15,000 people blockaded the Prenzlauer Berg district, restricting a march by 400 neo-Nazis to just 350 metres of their intended six-kilometre march route.

After a year of stellar successes, almost 600 delegates from Germany’s new left-wing party, Die Linke, came together for the party’s first ever congress, held in the east German city of Cottbus on May 25 and 26.
On February 24, the left-wing party Die Linke extended its recent run of breakthroughs in German regional elections, winning eight seats in the Hamburg state parliament.
On January 27, Germany’s newest and third-largest party, Die Linke (The Left), scored historic victories in two important state elections, as anger grows at the failure of the economic boom to close the gap between rich and poor.
Rail workers from the German train drivers union, the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer (GDL), have repeatedly brought the country to a standstill in recent weeks, with rolling strikes against the state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn AG.
The European-wide human rights monitoring organisation State Watch is now collecting reports on the policing of protests during the June 6-8 G8 summit in Germany.
Two years ago we were assaulted with the spectacle of Bono and Bob Geldof promising to help “make poverty history”. The two pop stars, both well past their use-by date, played leading roles in organising the 2005 anti-poverty Live 8 concerts and as a result scored a much-reported invite to address the July 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland. That summit adopted a debt-relief and aid plan for Africa hailed by Bono as a “little piece of history”. Geldof declared the summit a “qualified triumph” for the world’s poor. The issue of global warming also featured at the Gleneagles meeting, with the G8 resolving to “act with resolve and urgency” to tackle climate change.
On May 13, the Left party won 8.4 % of the votes in Germany’s smallest state, the adjoining north-western cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. This was sufficient for the party to enter a west German state parliament for the first time, with seven MPs.
On May 13, the Left party won 8.4 % of the votes in Germany’s smallest state, the adjoining north-western cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. This was sufficient for the party to enter a west German state parliament for the first time, with seven MPs.
Nine hundred police were used in simultaneous raids across Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and other cities on May 9 as part of a pre-emptive strike against anti-G8 protests planned for June 6-8. Some 100,000 protesters are expected to demonstrate against the summit, which will be held in the northern seaside resort of Heiligendamm. The G8 draws together eight of the world’s largest industrialised powers — the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and Canada.
Some 450 activists from a variety of countries gathered in Rostock, northern Germany, on the November 11-12 weekend for the second Action Conference to plan protests against the G8 summit in 2007. A week of protests is planned against the June 6-8 G8 summit, which will be held at the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm.
Some 450 activists from a variety of countries gathered in Rostock, northern Germany, on the November 11-12 weekend for the second Action Conference to plan protests against the G8 summit in 2007. A week of protests is planned against the June 6-8 G8 summit, which will be held at the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm.

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