From cannabis to refugees, Scholz plans to leave a mark on progress in Germany

Germany’s new coalition partners have struggled to reach consensus on everything from taxes and pensions to climate change. But there is one thing that unites them: a desire to be the country’s most socially progressive government in more than a generation.

NS alliance agreement They presented Wednesday covering a range of policies that could have a major positive impact on immigrants, lesbian parents, transgender people and other minorities.

“My heart is throbbing with joy,” speak Greta Garlichs, spokeswoman for QueerGrün, the Greens’ LGBTQ+ lobbying group. “A lot of weird people are writing to me to say how relieved and happy they are.”

The coalition agreement included a series of proposals designed to please liberals and progressives. Cannabis will be legalized, the voting age reduced to 16 and mass video surveillance in German cities banned.

The new government also promises to create a more welcoming regime for immigrants. It will make it easier for them to obtain a residence permit and, ultimately, German citizenship, and facilitate the entry of foreign skilled workers into the German labor market.

“The fact that we have finally become a country of immigration is truly groundbreaking,” said Jessica Rosenthal, head of Jusos, the youth wing of the SPD. “It was really a breakthrough.”

Businesses also welcome the plans. A senior financial services executive said: “Given our aging population, Germany needs 400,000 net immigrants a year and it seems the new government really understands that. “This is tough economics.”

The coalition agreement was the culmination of a month of negotiations between the Social Democrats, the Greens and the libertarians following the national elections on September 26 that resulted in a narrow victory of the Social Democrats. SPD. Permission Agreement Olaf Scholz, Current finance minister, for success Angela Merkel, who will retire from politics after 16 years as prime minister of Europe’s largest economy.

The parties to the “traffic light” alliance led by Scholz – named after their traditional colors – are not natural allies. The Greens and SPD have campaigned on the promise of raising taxes on high earners and investing heavily in climate change mitigation, while the Liberal Democrats (FDP) have not. financial hawk enter the free market and oppose tax increases.

However, “although there is a lot of difference on the economic side. . . [all three] completely agree on social policy,” said Thorsten Faas, a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin. “It means they have this area that they can always retreat to to emphasize their similarities.”

The policies being proposed will affect a wide range of constituencies. For example, pro-choice campaigners were supported by the decision to repeal article 219a of the German penal code, which forbids abortion doctors from advertising their services.

Kristina Hänel told Der Spiegel: “I think it’s great. Doctor and activist have become one cause célèbre in 2017 after being fined €6,000 for claiming on her website that she had terminated her contract.

The coalition partners also promise a change to the law that will help lesbian couples have children: currently only the biological mother is legally recognized as a parent, and her partner must officially adopt the child. to get custody of the children. Under the deal agreed on Wednesday, both women will be recognized as the child’s legal mother.

“It’s been a historic success for the gay community,” said Garlichs. The former rule is “always a heavy burden.”

The new government also plans to repeal Germany’s 1981 transgender law, replacing it with a “self-determination law” designed to make it easier for people to declare transgender. The ban on gay and transgender people from donating blood will also be lifted.

On immigration, the coalition partners want to make it easier for refugees to be reunited with close family members still languishing in third countries. Many asylum seekers will be able to get jobs. Immigrants without a criminal record who have lived in Germany for 5 years will be allowed a year of residency. Those who wish to naturalize in Germany will no longer be forced to renounce all of their other citizenships.

The proposed policies have received harsh criticism from several quarters. Police unions have quashed plans to legalize marijuana. Pro-life campaigners oppose the repeal of article 219a. Conservatives fear planned policies will erode traditional notions of the family.

But most commentators are positive. “The truth is that the political majority in this country supports these changes,” Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on Friday. “And everyone else will have to live with it.”

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