Hollande, Merkel to mark 150yrs of German centre-left

Germany's opposition Social Democrats mark their 150th birthday Thursday, with French President Francois Hollande as the only foreign speaker and conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel in the audience.

The French Socialist president will give the keynote address at the anniversary celebrations of his centre-left allies, who are battling poor poll ratings as they try to unseat Merkel in September 22 elections.

Germany's oldest political party has invited nearly 50 current and former heads of state and government as it celebrates its turbulent history, which saw it advance workers rights and suffer persecution by the Nazis.

It will also look to the future as it seeks to relaunch itself at the event in Leipzig, the eastern city where the party's precursor, the General German Workers Association, was founded in 1863.

"I am convinced that this will give us momentum for the elections," said Social Democratic Party (SPD) chief Sigmar Gabriel, who called the celebration "the largest international political event in Germany this year".

A worldwide group of about 70 left-of-centre parties -- including Britain's Labour Party, the African National Congress and the US Democrats -- on Wednesday, the eve of the event, founded a "Progressive Alliance".

Intended as an alternative to the Socialist International coalition, founded in Paris in 1889, its stated goal is to make the 21 century "a century of democratic, social and environmental progress".

Hollande will give a speech around 1000 GMT to his centre-left political allies who are trailing behind Merkel's centre-right coalition, just as Hollande has slipped in popularity after a little over a year in office.

Elysee Palace officials say Hollande is at the "non-partisan celebration" with the blessing of Merkel, and that he does not intend to use it to rally support for Merkel's election rival Peer Steinbrueck.

Latest German polls give Merkel's conservatives a lead of 41 percent against 24 percent for the Social Democrats, whose top candidate Steinbrueck has suffered through a series of campaign missteps.

Merkel -- often voted Germany's most popular politician and regarded as Europe's most powerful leader amid the financial crisis -- will not speak at the anniversary, considered a historical event which she attends as national leader.

Germany's largely ceremonial President Joachim Gauck, a former Christian pastor and civil rights activist in what was the communist East Germany, will address the ceremony on behalf of the government.

Merkel is set to leave early for a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Tensions have simmered in recent months between the Hollande and Merkel governments, despite protestations on behalf of the two leaders that their friendly relationship is Europe's "best-kept secret".

While members of Merkel's coalition have painted recession-hit France as slow to reform, French Socialists have accused Merkel of selfishly driving fiscal belt-tightening that heaps pain on the continent's people.

On Wednesday, however, Hollande said France and Germany were working on a joint economic initiative to put to their EU partners at a summit in June that is scheduled to focus on ways of boosting growth and jobs.

The SPD, which is campaigning in alliance with the Greens, has meanwhile presented its most leftist policy programme in years, pushing for less austerity in Europe, a minimum wage at home and higher taxes for the rich.

The SPD has alienated many core supporters with tough labour reforms several years ago, dubbed Agenda 2010, that are credited with keeping the economy competitive but also blamed for creating a new army of "working poor".

While Merkel has presided mostly over a humming economy, partially as a result of the reforms, she has also made many former centre-left policies her own, from phasing out nuclear power to scrapping military conscription.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea
    Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea

    The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing's criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China's massive reclamation activities" in the waters. It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing's own actions which were raising regional tensions. "The Philippines' possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no …

  • Boxing hero Pacquiao is top tax-payer in Philippines: govt
    Boxing hero Pacquiao is top tax-payer in Philippines: govt

    Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, who faces his biggest fight against unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather, already holds top spot as the number one taxpayer in the Philippines, government records showed Saturday. A list of top individual tax-payers for 2013, posted on the Bureau of Internal Revenue website, put the boxer-turned-congressman at number one with 163.84 million pesos ($3.72 million) in taxes paid. Internal revenue chief Kim Henares confirmed that Pacquiao topped the list but stressed …

  • Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects
    Phl, Japan sign P9.6-B ODA projects

    The Philippines and Japan have signed agreements for six official development assistance (ODA) projects amounting to 22.289 billion yen or around P9.6 billion. …

  • Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms
    Commission to launch glossary of Pinoy meteorological terms

    The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) will release a glossary of meteorological terms in Filipino to help the Filipino people better understand weather forecasts and instill disaster awareness among them. National Artist for Literature and KWF president Virgilio Almario said yesterday the KWF produced the glossary titled Patnubay sa Weder Forkast to simplify scientific terms used in the weather bulletins of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration …

  • Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP
    Divorce bill good scapegoat for couples – CBCP

    Contrary to what romance novel writers would want their readers to believe, there are no perfect marriages in the real world. This was according to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. In a statement titled “CBCP Position Against the Divorce Bill and Against the Decriminalization of Adultery and Concubinage,” Villegas said that while it is not easy to make relationships last, learning how to work out differences – and …

  • DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa
    DND holds off infra dev’t in Pag-Asa

    The defense department is holding off repairs and other planned infrastructure projects on Pag-Asa Island, one of seven islets and two reefs occupied by Filipino troops in the disputed Spratly Islands. Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario pointed out that the maintenance and repair of facilities in Pag-Asa Island are not covered by the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of parties involved in the West Philippine Sea territorial disputes. “Repair and maintenance is okay but before …

  • Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns
    Blackout to hit 5 Aurora towns

    An 11-hour power outage will hit five towns in Aurora on Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) announced yesterday. The NGCP said Baler, Dingalan, San Luis, Ma. Aurora and Dipaculao would be affected by the blackout. The NGCP said parts of Nueva Ecija and Aurora were hit by a power interruption yesterday due to the tripping of the Cabanatuan-Baler 69kV line. …

  • Rules set for climate change programs
    Rules set for climate change programs

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) have released the revised guidelines to track and monitor climate change adaptation programs of the government. “The government of the Philippines has demonstrated leadership and strong commitment in implementing a comprehensive reform agenda to respond to climate change,” read the joint memorandum circular published in The STAR yesterday. “With the goal of using the budget process to plan, prioritize and …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options