German Press Review: A Lukewarm Reform Deal | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.12.2003
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German Press Review: A Lukewarm Reform Deal

German papers on Tuesday focused on the tax and welfare reform compromise government and opposition leaders hammered out on Monday. Others took a look at the situation in Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s capture.

Analyzing the compromise reached in Berlin, the German tabloid Bild wanted to sense a big sigh of relief in the country but it couldn’t. In fact “the people had hoped for more than just a little bit less of taxes”, the paper claimed. And it suggested that Germany has to get used to a new formula of compromising: “If the government and the opposition are cozying up, then the result will simply

be half.”

Die Welt in Berlin agreed, stating there’s just big disappointment instead of wide reaching reforms. “The psychological effect that a real tax cut would have

had on the German economy, has been reversed now,” the paper criticized, predicting that the people will not really profit from the deal. “Only half of the planned cuts have been realized, while at the same time ordinary people are

facing higher expenses, for example due to the health reform,” the daily wrote.

After the compromise the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich sees the opposition Christian Democrats on the safe side: “All Chancellor Schröder can cling to now is hope.” Should the economy grow, then he will try to sell his survival in the

mediation committee as a success, the paper predicted, but should there be no economic upturn, the constant crisis of the government will continue. In contrast, it claimed that the Christian Democrats will always look like winners: If the economy recovers, they’ll claim that they’ve made the compromise possible. And if everything stays as it is, then they can argue that Chancellor Schröder is to blame for everything.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung questioned the overall organization of Germany’s political system. There is another thing that can be learned from the long and tiring debates in Berlin, the paper said, and that is that “Germany urgently needs to reorganize itself. It cannot take the liberty of discussing every step it takes for months.” That’s why the paper demanded that the distribution of responsibilities between the federal government, the individual states and the municipalities be made more effective.

Other German papers continue to comment on the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. This is not only a triumph for the US government, said the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, it is also an opportunity for the Iraqi people to uncover Saddam’s mass murder and crimes. That’s why the paper demanded Iraqis must be involved in trying Saddam and suggested that the special tribunal that was set up in Iraq last week could be widened by including international experts: “After all it will be a trial that the whole world will closely watch, and it will be a trial that could possibly answer one crucial question: What’s

the truth about the weapons of mass destruction?”

The Lausitzer Rundschau from Cottbus reminded its readers that attacks continue in Iraq: “One day after the capture of one of the most cruel dictators in all times, joy and euphoria have vanished. It is an illusion to think that quietness and peace would suddenly spread in Iraq.” The paper suggested that what the Iraqi people are hoping for now is more assistance in very practical matters. “They want safe streets, filled stores, an upturn of the domestic economy and acceptable living conditions,” the daily wrote. As long as these basic needs are not secured, the paper predicted, “their frustration will grow and along with it their willingness to approve or even back terrorists.”