German Cabinet Members Drop Plans to Raise Pay | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.05.2008
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German Cabinet Members Drop Plans to Raise Pay

Amid a public outcry at plans to hike the pay of federal elected officials, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called off her own pay rise, her spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said in Berlin Wednesday, May 21.

Large stacks of euros

There will be no new piles of money waiting for German politicians this year

Merkel, who currently earns 15,833 euros ($24,975) per month, suggested in cabinet that planned 6 percent raises for all ministers be called off. There was "general agreement," Wilhelm told reporters.

The federal ministers' pay is linked to the salary scale for judges. Pay rises for high public officials are hugely unpopular in Germany.

Data this week showed the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and number on medium incomes shrinking. Without state aid, 26 percent of Germans would have incomes below the official poverty line.

Cabinet pay hikes have been called off in the past too, and Wilhelm said the cabinet now earned 16 percent less in real terms than in the 1990s.

A look inside the Bundestag

Some parliamentarians are upset they won't be getting a raise

Members of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, accused Social Democratics, with whom Merkel governs in a grand coalition, of flip-flopping on an agreement to raise politicians' salaries.

"To purse your lips and then not whistle is the most embarrassing decision that's ever been made," Juergen Gehb of the CDU told the daily Passauer Neuen Presse on Wednesday. "It's a sign of the poor state of trust in politics."

Christian Democratic and Social Democratic leaders in the parliament agreed on Tuesday to block a similar hike in deputies' salaries.

The CSU's expert for domestic affairs, Hans-Peter Uhl, said refusing to raise parliamentarians' salaries was "insufferable."

"It is an affront that a federal parliamentarian does not receive the salary of a district administrator or the mayor of a medium-sized city," he told the paper.

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