German lawmakers opt to increase own pay | News | DW | 13.12.2017
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German lawmakers opt to increase own pay

A system of annual pay raises for parliamentarians, first practiced in 2016, has been extended by Germany’s new Bundestag. Its vote drew protests from the opposition Left party and far-right Alternative for Germany.

A decision on Wednesday that the Bundestag's 709 members get a pay raise next June when average wage trends are calculated drew criticism from a tax austerity lobby group as well as the outer edges of the political spectrum.

The Federation of Taxpayers (BdSt), which leans toward supporting businesses, said the planned rise gave the "wrong signal” while Germany remained without a new federal government in the wake of its September 24 election.

The system of automatized adjustments designed to answer criticism of self-service and first practiced in July 2016 gives a newly constituted Bundestag only three months into its new term to decide whether to perpetuate it. The system calls for lawmakers to receive raises at the same rate judges' salaries are increased.

Wednesday's majority vote was backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the pro-business liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens. Among the 665 votes cast name-by-name, 505 parliamentarians voted in favor and 152 were against the rises. Eight members abstained.

Currently, each parliamentarian receives €9,542 ($11,220) monthly, plus a monthly tax-free allowance of more than €4,000 to cover office expenses.

Read more: 'Dear Germany... I want to pay taxes'

'Ashamed of yourselves?'

The Alternative for Germany's (AfD) Stefan Keuter earned a welter of criticism from across the floor when he asked: "Are you not ashamed of yourselves?

"Automatism is simply a cheek," he remarked.

Populists repeatedly sought to turn the issue into "anti-parliamentary propaganda," replied FDP parliamentary whip Marco Buschmann.

Greens parliamentary whip Britta Haßelmann accused the AfD of behaving hypocritically, saying that during prior consultations parliament's far-right new entrants had not raised objections.

Nobody satisfiable

"We can't satisfy anybody,” added Carsten Schneider, the SPD's parliamentary whip, referring to the system recommended several years ago by a commission.

Left party parliamentary whip Jan Korte found fault with the system, saying part of Germany's population had become disconnected from the country's wealth.

Better assistance for victims

Wednesday's vote was among Bundestag agenda items including a cross-party recommendation that victims of terrorist acts and major accidents receive better compensation.

Former Rhineland-Palatinate Premier Kurt Beck, who was appointed the government's commissioner for victims of crime in the wake of last year's Berlin Christmas market attack, said Germany needed a central office to offer non-bureaucratic assistance to victims and their relatives.

An AfD resolution that migrants be turned back at Germany's border was firmly rejected by all other parties during an hour-long debate.

ipj/sms (Reuters, KNA, AFP,  dpa)

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