Germany Angela Merkel calls for tougher coronavirus restrictions | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

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Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for much tighter restrictions on public life before Christmas. She spoke out explicitly in favor of the recommendations published Tuesday by the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina.
They call for the end of compulsory school attendance from December 14, for an extension of the Christmas school holidays, for the complete closure of all businesses except essential from December 24 and for working from home to the fullest extent. possible.

Merkel said she was opposed to opening hotels so that families could meet over the Christmas and New Years holidays and that she agreed with recommendations to close stores after Christmas until. ‘to January 10.

Merkel made her remarks in the Bundestag parliament on Wednesday morning as part of the debate on the government’s 2021 budget debate. These debates are traditionally an opportunity to take stock of the government’s performance during the previous year. This was Merkel’s last budget debate, as she will not stand for re-election next year, after 15 years as head of German government.

Merkel pushed back against criticism of her government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that the country was going through an “exceptional situation”.

“The most important key to successfully tackling the virus is the responsible behavior of each individual and the willingness to cooperate,” Merkel told her audience of mostly unmasked MPs.

Germany is struggling to cope with the pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute, the German public health authority, on Wednesday announced a record daily toll of 590 people in Germany, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 19932 with over 1.2 million infections.

“Five hundred deaths a day are unacceptable,” said Merkel in her speech, which German observers were quick to describe as exceptionally personal and emotional.

Far-right opposition leader Alice Weidel reaffirmed that she believes Angela Merkel’s 15-year rule has been a failure

AfD attack on Merkel

Merkel has come under heavy criticism from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Party co-leader in parliament Alice Weidel called for an end to “counterproductive lockdowns” and criticized what she called Merkel’s “aimless and grotesque” handling of the pandemic. “It locks up citizens and destroys entire industries,” said Weidel, who argued that a lockdown was imposed with a “hammer” and would do more harm than good.

The far-right alternative for Germany (AfD), the biggest opposition party and fiercest critics of the government’s pandemic policy.

Christian Lindner, who heads the pro-business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), said the current lockdown restrictions were “purely token, ineffective and disproportionately undermine personal freedom.”

He called for more “predictability” in the government’s efforts to rule the virus and warned of what his party sees as undue damage to German businesses and the economy.

The head of the FDP and other members of the Bundestag sharply criticized the lack of parliamentary oversight of government pandemic policy.

Review of Merkel’s government

The parliamentary debate has been dominated by the fight against the coronavirus.

Party leaders and parliamentarians from all political backgrounds in Germany took turns in front of the plenary pulpit to judge Merkel’s government and present their views on the state of the country.

According to Alice Weidel of the AfD, the pandemic had just “accelerated and aggravated” existing trends, such as the “mainstreaming” of political correctness.

“The German armed forces are sensitive to gender identity, but are not ready to deploy,” she said.

Regarding the economy, Weidel said Merkel’s legacy would be debt and unemployment. The powerful German auto industry had taken a back seat to Merkel’s climate-friendly policies, she alleged, speaking of a flawed “climate hysteria” leading to a new emphasis on renewables. Electric cars, Weidel said, “have no viable future without the help of billions from the state.”

It also built on the common populist talking point of Islamist terrorism and ‘imported crime’, although German police statistics show a steady decline in crime through 2019, including fewer thefts. since 1987.


Green Party leader Annalena Baerbock chooses to focus on Germany’s international role in 2021

While the AfD is currently the largest opposition party in the Bundestag, the Greens are ahead of them in the opinion polls.

The Green Parties are on the right track to help shape, if not lead, the next government. This made Wednesday’s parliamentary debate a chance for Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock to argue that her party is ready to govern.

“We must build back better,” she said, drawing on the position of US President-elect Joe Biden. “Billions of economic aid should put us on the path to carbon neutrality.”

She criticized the government for not doing more to encourage companies to reduce their climate impact or invest more in more climate-friendly sectors, such as passenger rail transport.

She warned of China’s growing influence within the European Union, calling its investments “not a humanitarian gesture but a dependency.” Baerbock compared China’s growing global presence, which Merkel has often been reluctant to criticize, with Germany’s cuts in funding for international programs such as UNICEF and the United Nations Development Program.

“This does not threaten the security of Germany’s budget. This threatens Germany’s strategic role in the world, ”she told fellow MEPs.

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