In the period that followed, the SPD leadership moved away from the decision it had taken immediately after the election to join the opposition. Negotiations with the CDU and CSU led to an agreement on February 7, 2018, which was signed on March 12, 2018 after a positive vote by the SPD members. Schulz refused to join a government and resigned the party chairmanship on February 13, 2018. His successor A. Nahles did not stay at the top of the SPD for long either: only until June 2019. After a broad survey of members, which numerous “teams of two” faced, Saskia Esken (* 1961) and Norbert Walter-Borjans (* 1952) through. They were confirmed as “dual leadership” at a federal party conference (December 6, 2019). Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click commit4fitness.com.
On March 14, 2018, the Bundestag re- elected Merkel as Chancellor. It received only 364 of 688 valid votes cast, although the Union and SPD have 399 seats in the Bundestag. With the subsequent appointment and swearing-in of her new cabinet, 171 days after the federal election, the longest phase of government formation in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany ended. Merkel announced that she would resign as head of government after the legislative period. In December 2018, A. Kramp-Karrenbauer succeeded her at the top of the party.
After a very hot and, in some places, dramatically dry summer 2018, climate change dominated domestic politics. Schoolchildren demonstrated for faster and more comprehensive measures in climate policy, initiated by “Fridays for Future” by the Swede G. Thunberg (first worldwide organized “school strike” on March 15, 2019). There was already a reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act on January 1, 2017(EEG) has been launched. She saw inter alia suggest that operators of larger wind farms, solar systems or biogas systems should no longer receive a fixed remuneration for electricity fed into the grid. Instead, new projects should be advertised as required. In 2018/19 the federal government worked out a large »climate protection package« with which greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Numerous measures for this purpose had been adopted by mid-2020. Electromobility and public passenger transport are being promoted intensively, and the transport sector and private households are being promoted in emissions trading included, oil heating banned (from 2026) and the conversion of coal into electricity (until 2038) withdrawn. The latter made financial compensation necessary for countries or regions that extracted lignite.
In terms of social policy, the focus was on childcare (“Gute-KiTa-Gesetz”, January 1, 2019) and the promotion of children from low-income families (“Strong Family Act”, from July 1, 2019). In addition, adjustments were made to the statutory pension, which provides for surcharges for low pensions (“basic pension”), a main SPD project.
The political rise of the right-wing populist AfD made the other parties look for new political strategies. In view of extremist and xenophobic tendencies within the AfD, those in favor of demarcation remained clearly in the majority. However, the election of an FDP politician as Prime Minister in Thuringia on February 5, 2020 with votes from the AfD brought the CDU in particular into a dilemma. Their unclear position in the following Thuringian government crisis, which drew nationwide circles, left the CDU chairman Kramp-Karrenbauer declare their withdrawal from the party leadership and the waiver of a candidate for chancellor in the upcoming federal elections in 2021. The question of succession occupied the CDU for a long time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only clarified in January 2021 when A. Laschet prevailed against F. Merz . Laschet had previously involved a competitor, Minister of Health J. Spahn .
The right-wing extremism was not only because of incidents to the police in Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia a priority, but above all because of the murder at the Kassel District President Walter Lübcke on 01.06.2019 and nine people in Hanau on 19.02.2020 and an attack on the Synagogue in Halle (Saale) on October 9, 2019 (two dead). In all cases, xenophobic and racist motives were in the foreground, and in all cases failures by security authorities were investigated. Since 2016, the Reich Citizenship Movement has also been more in the focus of the protection of the Constitution.
After the first documented SARS-CoV-2 infection in Germany on January 27, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had the country under control (Corona crisis) and claimed political action. In order to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly and not to overload the health system, especially hospitals and health authorities, public life was shut down for around a month on March 10, 2020, and again from November 2, 2020. The federal government also had borders with some neighboring states temporarily closed or more strictly controlled. Hygiene measures and restrictions, particularly noticeable in daycare centers, schools and universities as well as in the hospitality industry and in retail, shaped everyday life and business life. The main areas of infection included retirement and nursing homes as well as meat processing companies; in the latter case, the poor working conditions of foreign temporary workers became a political issue. To cope with the pandemic, the federal government launched two major aid packages in March and June 2020, which were subsequently supplemented with further measures to support the economy and employment during and as a result of the so-called lockdowns. So were the possibilities for Short-time working significantly expanded, limited to the second half of 2020, there was a reduction in VAT rates. The first vaccines were approved in the EU in December 2020. Protest, which was partly shaped by conspiracy ideologies and also used by right-wing extremists, was articulated against the restrictions in the corona crisis, around August 30, 2020 in Berlin with tens of thousands of demonstrators.