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German Press Review: Germans Need to Work Longer, but Will it Help?

German papers look at both sides of the current debate on extending working hours in Germany and at Afghanistan's decision to postpone democratic elections.

Berlin’s Die Welt thinks talk about a longer working week in Germany is a positive signal as it’s the only way to deal with the effects of globalization. Since wages in Germany cannot be lowered, the only way to compete internationally is to work longer for the same money.

But Der Tagesspiegel, looking at both sides of the argument, warns against talking about a longer work week just on the grounds of costs. There’s a big difference if a poorly paid nurse, who’s also a single mother, has to work a couple of hours more a week for the same money than someone who’s already making a comfortable wage.

Although a majority of companies in Germany are still doing quite well, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the willingness of most employees to work longer, writes the Leipziger Volkszeitung. It’s dishonest to try to solve Germany’s economic problems by adding to the daily workload. And the paper thinks this will hardly help reduce the country’s unemployment figures. Instead the paper wants to see new reforms that would allow wages to be reduced and cut back on the bureaucracy that would make it easier for middle and small companies to function.

Other German newspapers turned their attention to the announcement that elections in Afghanistan will be postponed until September.

The Financial Times Deutschland thinks the delay is a disappointment for everyone who had hoped for a rapid democratization process. But there was hardly any other option for the Hamid Karzai government as only 1.5 out of 10.5 million people have actually registered. There are also the security concerns caused by the remnants of the ex-Taliban regime. The paper thinks that NATO and the Kabul government will now have more time to get ready for the elections, even though it doubts it will be sufficient. But it warns against putting too much Western expectations on the country.

The delay shows that democratization in Afghanistan is behind schedule writes the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. And the recent attacks by Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters along the border with Pakistan shows just how strong the resistance against a Westernized Afghanistan is.