United Germany 3

United Germany Part III

The first »Grand Coalition« (2005-09)

In the federal elections on September 18, 2005, both parties suffered heavy losses. Although the red-green coalition under Chancellor Schröder lost its majority in parliament, even a Christian-liberal government alliance sought by the CDU / CSU and FDP did not achieve the necessary majority. Explorations about a government alliance between the Union, the FDP and the Greens (Jamaica coalition) or between the SPD, FDP and the Greens (“traffic light coalition”) were unsuccessful. Therefore, the CDU chairwoman and candidate for chancellor of the Union A. Merkel took Negotiations with the SPD to form a grand coalition. After the general agreement of 10.10. and the conclusion of the coalition agreement on November 11th. Merkel was elected first Chancellor on November 22, 2005. The SPD provided the Vice Chancellor, Müntefering. At the center of the coalition agreement was the restructuring of the state budget and the continuation of the reform policy to combat unemployment (including an increase in VAT from 16% to 19% from January 1, 2007, corporate tax reform 2008). Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click aristmarketing.com.

In the summer of 2006, the cabinet laid down the cornerstones of a health reform – even controversial in the governing parties – including the introduction of a health fund on January 1, 2009. In February 2007 the Bundestag confirmed the solutions found in the minimum consensus of the governing parties as new legal regulations. Parental allowance was introduced on January 1, 2007 to secure the economic security of the families. In addition, the reform of federalism launched again (May / June 2006). This included the establishment of federal authorities and the execution of federal administrative tasks without the involvement of the Federal Council, the right for the states to deviate from the requirements of the federal government in matters of administrative organization, and the transfer of powers to the states.

On behalf of the EU, Germany, Great Britain and France tried to diplomatically settle the dispute over Iran’s uranium enrichment program. On the basis of Resolution 1701 of the UN Security Council of August 11, 2006, Germany sent units of the German Navy to the Middle East (2,400 soldiers within the UN force for Lebanon, UNFIL) to secure the Lebanese maritime border (prevention of arms smuggling).

After the ratification of the EU Constitutional Treaty (Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe) failed in 2005 due to negative referendums in the Netherlands and France, the main features of a new treaty were adopted by the European Council during the German Council Presidency (1 January to 30 June 2007) decided at the summit meeting on 21/22 June 2007 in Brussels. At the EU summit on October 18th and 19th (under the Portuguese presidency) the heads of state and government agreed on the final text of the Lisbon Treaty.

On February 20, 2008, Germany recognized Kosovo, whose government had declared independence from Serbia three days earlier, as a state and decided to establish diplomatic relations. A brief war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 led to tensions in German-Russian relations.

In 2008/09 German domestic politics were dominated by the global financial market crisis. A first emergency aid package for the economy worth € 12 billion from December 2008 was followed in February 2009 by a second economic stimulus package of around € 50 billion, which was declared a “Pact for Employment and Stability”. New rules on short-time work prevented a large number of workers from being laid off. The massive support for the troubled financial market system caused the budget deficit to grow. After setting up a “bank rescue package” in the form of the special financial market stabilization fund, the government enabled the banks to outsource their risky securities portfolios in July 2009.

The second Christian-Liberal coalition (2009-13)

In the federal elections on September 27, 2009, the CDU / CSU and FDP won a stable majority for a government alliance. The SPD experienced a debacle and achieved its worst result in a federal election with a share of 23% of the vote. As a consequence, S. Gabriel was elected as the successor to Müntefering as the new chairman of the SPD.

On October 28, 2009, Merkel took over the position of Federal Chancellor at the head of a CDU / CSU-FDP coalition. FDP party leader G. Westerwelle became foreign minister and vice chancellor. The first crisis for the new government grew out of the Kunduz affair with an air attack on two tankers in Afghanistan initiated by German forces on September 4, 2009, in which many civilians died. After the resignation of the former defense and new labor minister FJ Jung on November 27, 2009, the Chancellor was forced to reshuffle the cabinet after a short time. The defense department took over K.-T. to Guttenberg . He already announced his resignation on March 1st, 2011 in connection with a plagiarism affair surrounding his doctoral thesis.In the previous year, Guttenberg had initiated a suspension of compulsory military service as part of a Bundeswehr reform, which the Bundestag decided on March 24, 2011.

In May 2010, Federal President Köhler surprisingly resigned in connection with criticism of his statements about foreign deployments of the Bundeswehr. C. Wulff (CDU) was elected as his successor on June 30, 2010. This did not last long in office: A credit and media scandal brought the Federal President in December 2011 in distress. On February 16, 2012, the Hanover public prosecutor’s office applied for his immunity to be lifted in order to be able to investigate whether he was receiving or granting benefits. The next day Wulff resigned. On March 18 the Federal Assembly elected J. Gauck as the new head of state.

United Germany 3