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.

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation
    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory …

  • Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea
    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area. …

  • Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters
    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters

    The Philippines on Sunday called on neighbouring Southeast Asian nations to push for an immediate halt to China's reclamation in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested …

  • President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit
    President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit

    The Philippine president said Sunday he would appeal for mercy for a Filipina who is due to be executed in Indonesia in two days' time. President Benigno Aquino said he would take the opportunity to seek clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who is due to be put to death on Tuesday, while in Malaysia for a regional summit Monday. "Once I am there, I will try to speak to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal once more for her case," Aquino said. She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms …

  • U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions
    U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday not to execute 10 prisoners, including two Australians, for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has so far informed seven of the 10 death row inmates, including the Australians and one Nigerian, that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Nationals from Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines are also on Indonesia's death row. A temporary reprieve was granted to a French citizen who will not …

  • Beijing 'poised to take de facto control' of S. China Sea'
    Beijing 'poised to take de facto control' of S. China Sea'

    Beijing is poised to take "de facto control" of the South China Sea, the Philippines warned Sunday, but its call for a robust Southeast Asian response at a regional summit was shot down. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic body of water, but Beijing claims nearly all of it, and its increasingly strident territorial assertions have caused concern in the region and beyond. "(China) is poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea," …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options