The general debate is ongoing in the Bundestag – traditionally a heated discussion between the government and the opposition. You can follow the speeches live here.
You can follow the debate live here
10:52 am: Baerbock calls for the goals of coping with the pandemic not to be based on the pre-crisis status quo. One must follow the principle of “Building better”, because in hospitals, for example, there were already striking shortcomings in the working conditions. The crisis must also be used to protect the climate, for example to link aviation aid to conditions.
10:47 am: Annalena Baerbock, Federal President of the Greens, begins her speech. She argues for more perspectives from the government – not just with regard to the pandemic measures, but ‘perspective that politics can learn’. She calls for a clear plan for the coming months: “What comes when? To swing from one prime minister to another – it can’t go on like this.” She agrees with Merkel that further action is urgent, but calls for greater responsibility and pragmatism from the federal government. She mainly thinks of schools and children: “Money can save companies – but not children”. “Good politics means acting, in real life,” said Baerbock.
10.30 am: The first speaker on the left is on the podium: Amira Mohamed Ali, the group leader of the group. She explains that the example of the renewed corona outbreak is typical of the government’s approach to problems: “They are recognized, but they are still not banned.” Even in these times, the federal government is bowing to the lobbyists and leaving behind everyone who are the real heroes in the corona pandemic. It calls for better collective labor agreements and bonuses in the health sector in order to offer employees there better working conditions in the long term. The Treasury’s amounts were not going to go where they were needed. Immediate help is often “help too late” – this is not a guarantee of livelihood. The government’s corona policy is only widening the social gap – even the budget that is now under discussion will not change that.
10:20 am: Mützenich attacks the CDU in Saxony-Anhalt: “Making a common cause with an extreme right-wing party is a border crossing”. He refers to the debate about the radio license fee, the increase of which failed in Magdeburg. “Anyone who gets involved in the AfD will perish, and with it democracy.” He has missed votes from the federal party in recent days.
10.15 am: Now Rolf Mützenich, leader of the SPD faction, takes the floor. He makes it clear that the SPD group supports the lockdown considerations: Given the current figures, “further restrictions are necessary and justified”. About the economic consequences, he says: “We want to safeguard economic substance”, because they want to get back up quickly after the crisis. To do this, we have to talk about restructuring: “Broad shoulders have to make an extraordinary contribution, that’s only fair”. He describes Lindner’s criticism of a wealth tax as the “joke of the day”.
10:10 am: Christian Linder comments on fiscal strategy after the Corona crisis. He essentially agreed with the idea of wanting to “grow” out of the crisis. Such coping would have worked before – but under fundamentally different circumstances. In view of the proposals of the Minister of Finance to introduce a wealth tax, Olaf Scholz says: “Make sure there is still wealth that can be taxed!” He is against tax increases – on the contrary, one must invest, for example in research, and relieve citizens of taxes.
10 a.m.: Linder criticizes the fact that the Robert Koch Institute’s budget requests have requested 68 new positions to strengthen contact tracking. Only four of these were approved. The proposals of the FDP to strengthen daily life instead of standing still have also been rejected.
9:50 am: Christian Lindner, leader of the FDP faction, spoke. He criticizes that the government was not sufficiently prepared for the second wave: “Autumn and winter apparently came so surprisingly” that the situation is now comparable to that in the spring. He does not blame the government for adjusting course in the uncertain pandemic situation. But: “The continuous correction of the correction raises questions about the scientific evidence of all measures.” He lacks a clear strategy in the fight against the corona virus. “Without a vaccine, there is no guarantee that short-term hardships will lead to success,” he said, referring to the rising numbers in France despite the lockdown there. You have to talk about alternative measures. He doesn’t believe in curfew: “Walking the dog around the corner doesn’t generate infection dynamics. The public should just simulate a planned procedure.”
9:40 am: Merkel appeals: “We must take the scientists’ recommendations seriously”. According to the latest reports from the Leopoldina Science Academy, it seems “more indisputable” that there should be a tighter lockdown after Christmas. “Otherwise, the pandemic will accompany us again and again,” Merkel said. “If we now have too many contacts before Christmas and it was the last Christmas with the grandparents, then we missed something, we should not do that.” So keep thinking about longer Christmas holidays, digital lessons or a similar approach in schools. Stores should also close on January 10th.
9.35 am: The Chancellor discusses the current second wave of the corona pandemic: “We are in what may be the decisive phase of fighting the pandemic”. She thinks a lot about the victims – she ignores that at the moment. But: “We see light at the end of the tunnel.” This is mainly due to the great researchers and the good international cooperation. Nevertheless, she limits herself: “We will not be able to perform so many vaccinations in the first quarter that we can feel a significant change in the situation of the population.” The high number of cases and especially the number of cases in intensive care units and the number of deaths are of concern. “The number of contacts is too high, the number of reductions is too low.”
9.20 am: Merkel urges citizens not to stop in line with the corona measures: “The main key to successfully fighting the virus in our country is the responsible behavior of each individual and the willingness to participate.” The vast majority of Germans have shown that they are willing to follow the rules. “I’m so grateful for that, and we should all be together.”
09:13 am: In the general debate in the German Bundestag, Chancellor Angela Merkel justifies the high level of new debt in the budget with the current challenge of the coronavirus: “We live in a pandemic, so we live in an exceptional situation”, she says. “And we have to do something to make sure that we act in a special way in this particular situation, and this is what this budget expresses.” Germany is an economically strong, democratic country with social cohesion and a strong civil society. “This strength, which is what guides us in this budget, we want to maintain even in this exceptional situation,” Merkel said.
9.02 am: Traditionally the largest opposition party starts – Alice Weidel of the AfD has the floor. ‘How much mischief do you intend to cause in your remaining term of office?’ She asked Chancellor Merkel. “Mrs. Merkel, get off your intellectual Wandlitz,” she criticizes the Chancellor’s policy. With this, the AfD politician alludes to the infamous GDR retreat, where high-ranking politicians in the former East Germany watched Western television and indulged in a luxurious existence, encased from the audience as in a wagon castle. It is starting to attack, attacking, among other things, the corona measures, immigration policy and the government’s economic policy of recent years.
With a general debate of four hours on the course of the federal government, budget week in the Bundestag (starting at 9 a.m.) reaches its peak. Usually the government and the opposition have a sharp political exchange. In the course of the debate, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) will also take the floor and explain her policy.
It is eagerly awaited if Merkel will elaborate on how to proceed with the corona-related restrictions. The debate this year is likely to be heavily influenced by the federal government’s approach to the corona pandemic. The fight against the crisis is leading to a further drastic increase in new debt. Loans of almost 180 billion euros are planned for next year.