German gov’t to fight right-wing populism with social policy

German gov’t to fight right-wing populism with social policy

BERLIN (Rahnuma): Germany’s federal government will fight right-wing populism with visible policies to reassure citizens about their social security, labor minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) announced on Friday.

Addressing delegates in the federal parliament (Bundestag), Heil warned that “political charlatans” were trying to stoke and capitalize on popular fears about immigrants and falling living standards. “Whoever wants to prevent this must ensure that people can rely on a strong welfare state,” the German Social Democrat (SPD) politician said.

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) delegate Matthias Zimmer, whose party forms a “grand coalition” government together with the SPD, and Christian Social Union (CSU), similarly warned about the risk posed by resurgent right-wing extremism to Germany’s constitutional order. He emphasized that this development was already scaring off foreign investors and threatening the security of jobs as a consequence.

While welcoming attempts to combat the rise of right-wing extremism, the Left (Linke) and Green (Gruene) parties both lamented in response to Heil’s speech on Friday that Berlin was not yet doing enough to reduce child poverty and poverty in old age. Left party leader Katja Kipping urged the government to demonstrate “courage to transition to fundamentally-different alternatives” in their legislative approach to prevent an erosion of societal cohesion.

By contrast, AfD delegate Uwe Witt accused labor minister Heil of pursing a “crazy left-wing ideology.” He argued that Germany was in the midst of a crisis of its identity and very existence which could only be overcome with a further tightening of asylum policy.

Witt’s intervention was countered by CDU social policy spokesperson Peter Weiss who highlighted that the AfD was always eager to complain about perceived domestic problems but had little to offer in the way of concrete proposals for a social-, labor- and pensions policy of its own. Weiss noted that the government was already planning to lower the tax burden shouldered by citizens by reducing contributions to national unemployment insurance.

“The economic success (of Germany) is already directly benefiting its citizens,” Weiss said.

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