News from Germany and Berlin: 9 January, 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany


Compiled by Ana Ferreira



NPD member on bargain hunt

Kay Nerstheimer (NPD) has not attracted much attention in the House of Representatives in the past four years. He asked a few crude questions, but otherwise sat quietly in the farthest corner of the parliament with the other factionless members and stared into his laptop. Maybe he was there in order to do online shopping. The NPD MP apparently spends a lot of time doing that. Under his real name “Nerstheimer” he ordered numerous articles and wrote dozens of opinionated product reviews on Amazon. His shop list suggests Nerstheimer might own weapons. Source: taz

Kurdish books seized because of the cover

Customs at Düsseldorf airport have confiscated the complete Arabic-language edition of a scholarly book on Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish issue. Since 13 October, 500 copies of the book “Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Öcalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdogan’s Turkey” have been confiscated. This happened because of its cover, which features the image of the Kurdish freedom movement’s mastermind Abdullah Öcalan. Criminal proceedings were also initiated against the recipient. However, neither Öcalan’s works nor writings that deal academically with his ideas are banned in Germany. Source: jW

Next attack on the pension

Time and again, representatives of employers’ associations in particular, but also politicians and experts, call for raising the so-called standard retirement age. The age limit has been raised in monthly steps since 2012. This is rejected by trade unions, which have already protested against the pension at 67. DGB executive member Anja Piel called such demands unacceptable and warned against it. “Already today, many workers leave the labour force prematurely due to illness and have to accept considerable pension reductions,” Piel explained. Also, Hans-Jürgen Urban, member of the IG Metall executive board, considers that those who demand longer working lives must also improve working conditions. Source: nd

Real estate industry donates to the CDU

In December, business associations and individuals donated large sums to political parties. The CDU collected the most money this way, a total of 1.1 million euros in 2020 – more than twice as much as in the previous year. Other parties such as the CSU also received large donations. However, transparency in party donations remains poor in Germany. Parties only have to report individual donations over 50,000 euros immediately to the president of the Bundestag, who publishes the details “promptly”. Transparency Deutschland recently called for lower publication thresholds and a cap on party donations, stricter rules on sponsorship, and the timely publication of accountability reports. Source: nd

Ruling Coalition refuses to accept refugees

The German government considers it is doing enough for refugees stuck in Bosnian camps. However, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, there are no plans to bring migrants without shelter from there to Germany. About a week ago, the Lipa camp in the border area with Croatia burnt down and a relocation of the people to an old barracks failed. The EU said it would provide another 3.5 million euros to the Balkan state to better house refugees. SPD politicians showed themselves open to taking over protection seekers. Representatives of the CDU/CSU rejected these ideas. Source: nd

AfD parliamentarians regularly disrupt the Bundestag

German lawmakers were disciplined more times in the current parliamentary session than in the previous four combined. Debates in the Bundestag had usually a reputation for being a bit boring, but this has slightly changed with the arrival of the AfD party. According to the Augsburger Allgemeine, most of reprimands in the Bundestag were directed towards members of the populist party. A major cause for disturbance in 2020 has been the failure to wear a mask while coming in the parliamentary hall. However, it was not just the AfD who needed to be reminded about Corona measures, but also members from the SPD and CDU. Source: dw


Berlin schools massively resist planned partial opening

Berlin school classes are to partially return to face-to-face teaching as early as January – this is meeting widespread resistance. Criticism comes from pupils, parents and the teachers’ union. According to the Senate’s decision, the relevant classes for the final examinations will then be re-taught in schools with half the number of students. One week later, attendance classes will also be held in primary schools on an hourly basis. A complete return to face-to-face teaching is planned for mid-February. But there are general complaints of lack of proper planning. Furthermore, digitalisation in Berlin’s schools must also be tackled as quickly as possible. Source: rbb

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