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.

  • First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific
    First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific

    China's air force has carried out its first ever military drill over the western Pacific Ocean, state media said, highlighting Beijing's growing military reach. Several aircraft from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday flew over the ocean via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, the official Xinhua news agency said. "This is the first time that the PLA Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines," Xinhua cited …

  • Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow
    Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow

    The Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will have shorter hours tomorrow for the replacement of defective railroad tracks during the Holy Week. …

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

  • Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury
    Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury

    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P5 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury, fully settling all its arrears incurred in the last several years. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said with this year’s remittance, the state-owned gaming firm has fully settled all remaining arrears in cash dividends that were incurred by the previous administration since 2005. Pagcor’s cash dividends to the National Treasury under its …

  • Maysak moves closer to Phl
    Maysak moves closer to Phl

    The typhoon with international name Maysak slightly accelerated as it moved closer to the Philippines yesterday, threatening to dump rains over eastern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Maysak was spotted at 2,175 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 1 p.m. yesterday. Paciente said based on their latest forecast, Maysak is likely to affect …

  • Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany
    Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany

    The Philippines is getting 41 million euros or around P2 billion from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of Germany that will fund 10 bilateral projects to address the impact of climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairman Lucille Sering yesterday met with Norbert Gorissen – head of the International Climate Finance of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety – to discuss the projects, some of which will be …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options