The – erm – cartoon thing unfortunately meant that a number of interesting developments have gone unmentioned in this blog during the last weeks. Here is a short roundup:
Kinder, Küche, Kirche – and a Tax Deduction
The first major conflict within the German grand coalition turned out to be about the question of child care. The problem was whether costs for child care should be tax deductible and if yes, what limits should be applied with regard to low- and high-income families and to single- and double-breadwinner families respectively.
The case is too complicated to summarize in a paragraph. Suffice it to say that the Minister for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Ursula von der Leyen appears to have emerged from the battle with an enhanced reputation and that Chancellor Angela Merkel wasn’t affected by the conflict over the issue.
Muslims Not Allowed
The authorities of the German state of Baden-Württemberg didn’t put it quite so crudely but everybody else understood the intentions perfectly well.
The state authorities wanted to employ a questionnaire for citizens of the countries of the Muslim Conference seeking German citizenship to test whether they had internalised the values of German society. The interesting – and very scary – aspect was that the questionnaire was to be used against Muslim – and only Muslim – applicants while applicants from other non-Muslim countries per definition would be above suspicion for intolerance.
And as a German commentator noted: Of cause we all know that true German families always rejoice when a son or daughter comes out as homosexual.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Adopt Their Policies
It may come as a surprise to some but to me the really interesting news story from Denmark was that the Social Democrats declared that they would adopt the tax moratorium that the centre-right government declared after taking office in 2001.
The Social Democrats also declared that a future Social Democratic government wouldn’t pass a tax reform without consent from at least one of the present members of the ruling coalition. (The text of the Social Democratic policy statement can be found here).
This is bad news for economic experts who want to shift taxes from work income to property values and good news – at least in the short run – for home owners.
From a political science perspective, the declaration is further evidence of the weak position of biggest opposition party. The use of self-limitation strategies equally merits attention.
When it comes to drunk and disorderly behaviour only one nation knows how the outperform the British and that is of cause the Swedes. If you ever have to spend a Friday or Saturday night somewhere in Sweden, you have been warned.
The chairman of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth Association, Anna Sjödin, had to spend a night at a police station in Stockholm last week-end after a brawl outside a restaurant in a trendy part of the city when guards tried to expel a member of the group that accompanied Sjödin.
Sjödin claims that one of the guards used unnecessary force and subjected her to verbal and physical abuse. The guard claims that Sjödin behaved in a disorderly way, may have been drunk and that she had shouted racist abuse at him.
The twist to the tale is that Sjödin besides being a politician is a rugby-player while the guard allegedly attacked and abused by Sjödin has an immigrant background.
Correction: The complete name of the portfolio of the German Federal Ministry mentioned in the post is “Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth” and the minister’s surname is written “von der Leyen”. I forgot the Women in the original post and spelled the name “von der Layen”.