German Coalition Pushes for Domestic Deployment of Army | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 06.10.2008
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German Coalition Pushes for Domestic Deployment of Army

Germany’s ruling parties are pushing for a constitutional change to allow the military to respond to domestic emergencies such as a terrorist attack.

German Bundeswehr soldiers with night vision equipment

The military is currently not allowed to deploy domestically

After years of debate, Germany moved closer to allowing its military to deploy within the country's borders. The leaders of Germany's ruling coalition agreed Sunday to push for a constitutional change allowing the military to help out local law enforcement in certain cases.

Germany places strict limits on its military given the excesses committed during the Nazi era. Yet politicians have argued that the military could fill an important role in the case of a terrorist attack, acting as a backup to police.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung welcomed the decision to “protect citizens in Germany” according to his spokesman.

Ruling parties find compromise

Police and protestors face off

Some are concerned that the military will be used against protestors

Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had originally called for an even broader use of the military to respond to domestic terrorist threats. Many of these demands were scrapped in reaching the final compromise.

Volker Kauder, of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), emphasized Sunday that the military would only be used in extraordinary circumstances.

“We have finally found a way to deploy the Bundeswehr in specific, confined cases,” Kauder said.

Peter Struck, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), said he could imagine a scenario where German marines would help the coast guard during an emergency.

Worries over abuses of power

Wolfgang Schaeuble

Schaeuble has called for broader use of the miltary domestically

Left Party parliamentarian Petra Pau criticized the plans, saying that the coalition wanted to officially condone what was already allowed “through the back door.”

Germany's Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper also warned in an editorial in its Monday edition that demonstrators and terrorists are often seen as being one in the same by law enforcement. The newspaper warned against the "militarization of domestic politics." and called for more "intensive discussion" before the constitutional change goes forward.

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