Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2017 election.
Germany currently gives same sex couples rights through registered life partnerships (Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft). These partnerships do not provide the full rights of marriage. In 2013, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that gays and lesbians should be allowed to adopt children already adopted by their partners.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.
In 1949, Germany outlawed the death penalty. Previous death sentences were replaced by life in jail terms. The German constitution requires that prisoners have are checked for release on parole every 15 years.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. In Germany abortion is legal in in the first 3 months of pregnancy and women must undergo mandatory counseling before receiving the procedure. The average abortion is 6.1 per 1000 women rate among women aged 15-44
In December 2014, the government announced a new rule which would require German companies to fill 30% of their board seats with women. Women currently make up 43% of the labor market as well as 53% of graduates, but hold just 4% of managing-board seats and 15% of supervisory-board seats in Germany’s top 200 companies. The government’s solution is to require 30% of board seats to be held by women in all listed companies that are subject to “co-determination” meaning that they are required by law to have representatives of their workers on their supervisory boards. If these companies fall below the quota and a board seat becomes empty, it must be kept empty until 30% is reached again.
In Germany, women began joining combat units in 2001 after the European Court of Justice ruled that preventing women from such jobs was against gender equality principles. Women can choose any military career they want, including elite groups such as marine commandos. The number of women in the German armed forces tripled between 2001 and 2014, with about 800 women in combat units, including many who have served in the Afghanistan war. Proponents argue that it will help the military retain more women, who tend to leave the services permanently when they have children. Opponents argue that allowing women to serve in these roles would limit the military's ability to fight in combat situations.
Several Western countries including France, Spain and Canada have proposed laws which would ban Muslim women from wearing a Niqab in public spaces. A niqab is a cloth that covers the face and is worn by some Muslim women in public areas. In 2016 German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere proposed a partial ban of the burqa. de Maiziere said that the face veil does not belong in Germany society, where more than four million Muslims live, calling the proposed ban a "preventive measure". The minister said the ban would apply to "places where it is necessary for our society's coexistence", including government offices, schools and universities, courtrooms, demonstrations and while driving vehicles. Proponents argue that the ban infringes on individual rights and prevents people from expressing their religious beliefs. Opponents argue that face-coverings prevent the clear identification of a person, which is both a security risk, and a social hindrance within a society which relies on facial recognition and expression in communication.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature.
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. In 2015, the EU passed a law giving individual countries the right to ban GMO crops. In October, European countries including Germany used the EU rules to ban the use of genetically modified crops.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. In 2016 Angela Merkel passed legislation which banned fracking in Germany. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. Critics of fracking say it pollutes underground water supplies with chemicals, releases methane gas into the atmosphere, and can cause seismic activity. Proponents of fracking say it will drop oil and gas prices in Spain and lead to energy independence.
Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.
A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.
Proponents of deficit reduction argue that governments who do not control budget deficits and debt are at risk of losing their ability to borrow money at affordable rates. Opponents of deficit reduction argue that government spending would increase demand for goods and services and help avert a dangerous fall into deflation, a downward spiral in wages and prices that can cripple an economy for years.
In 2015, the European Union proposed a three year €86b bailout package for Greece. In order to receive the bailout, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to budget cuts including pension reforms. Opponents argue that the Greek government cannot be trusted to live up to the terms of the bailout, since they recently pledged to oppose any budget cuts. Proponents argue that the Euro will lose value if the Greek economy fails.
According to the government statistics agency, the gender pay gap, measuring gross hourly wages of men and women, stood at 22% in 2014, unchanged over the previous five years. That is down 1% from the pay gap for the years 2006 to 2009.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. Germany does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
A farm subsidy is a form of financial aid paid to farmers by the government. Farmers in the European Union receive 35% of their incomes in subsidies and farmers in the U.S. receive 28%. Proponents of higher subsidies argue that they are necessary to compete with agriculture exports from other western countries. Opponents argue that the farmers should fend for themselves and point out that 2,300 farmers who do not grow crops receive annual subsidies.
Leaders across Europe, as well in the U.S. government and the International Monetary Fund, are calling for Germany to boost public spending to help reverse the slowdown. But in Berlin, policy makers are sticking to the view that the eurozone crisis and sluggish growth result from a lack of sufficient economic overhauls in struggling countries, especially France and Italy. France has asked Germany to invest an additional €50 billion ($63.8 billion) over three years as a way of countering budget cuts in France.
A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.
In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.
A government pension is a fund into which a sum of money is added during the period in which a person is employed by the government. When the government employee retires they are able to receive periodic payments from the fund in order to support themselves. As the birth rate continues to fall and the life expectancy rises governments worldwide are predicting funding shortfalls for pensioners.In 2016 Germany's Bundesbank proposed raising the legal retirement age to 69. Private pension schemes in Germany are personal funded pensions. The funds are protected by law, cannot be seized by creditors or the state and are not eligible to be inherited.
Germany currently levies a 15% tax on all businesses. The average corporate tax rate worldwide is 22.6%. Opponents of argue that raising the rate will discourage foreign investment and hurt the economy. Proponents argue that the profits corporations generate should be taxed just like citizen's taxes.
In 2015 the German Cabinet Thursday approved a draft labour relations law that would simplify negotiations between corporations and unions. The draft law specified that for any corporation, only a single union would be recognised as the official wage-bargaining partner, and the resulting agreement would hold for all the company's employees. The law restricts union representation in a company and just one union will be allowed to represent a group of employees.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The agreement is opposed by unions, charities, NGOs, and environmentalists in Europe who criticise the agreement for reducing regulations on food safety and environmental legislation.
An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2016, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for American companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet, which is like a virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins and pay for goods or services. Bitcoin is anonymous, meaning that, while transactions are recorded in a public log, the names of buyers and sellers are never revealed.
In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that a 2009 law exempting corporate successions from inheritance tax was unconstitutional. Corporations obtained nearly €40 billion in tax exemptions while tax authorities collected €4.3 billion in inheritance tax revenue. Proponents of raising the tax argue that the tax breaks concentrate wealth in the hands of a few large industrial dynasties. Opponents argue the tax causes liquidity problems for small and medium size companies when faced by a sudden tax debt following a succession.
In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers' bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. In Germany 4 of the 15 major banks have instituted caps. Several banks avoided the cap by classifying manager as non-risk takers. Of the 87 bank managers in Germany that earned bonuses of more than 1 million euros ($1.37 million) in 2012, only 40 had been identified as being risk-takers. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers' pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank's costs to rise.
A church tax is a tax imposed on members of some religious congregations in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, some parts of Switzerland and several other countries.
In 2014, Angela Merkel set Germany’s first ever minimum wage at €8.50 per hour. Proponents believe this wage is necessary to protect the poor and working class. Business leaders have warned that the wage will threaten employment and cause companies to move their operations to countries with cheaper labor. Of the 28 countries in the EU, 6 do not currently have a minimum wage.
At a 2014 Vodafone conference, German chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that telecoms should be allowed to offer faster internet to higher paying customers. Proponents argue that the additional revenue made by telecoms on these packages would enable them to invest in their infrastructure and take on dominant companies like Netflix and Google. Opponents argue that the government should regulate the internet like a public utility and capping speeds for lower paying customers will limit their choices.
German drug policies are considered among the strictest in Europe. Although serious penalties are attached to the sale or possession of large quantities of drugs, there is no criminal action taken for small-scale possession or the use of many narcotics including marijuana. The German government has even gone so far as to allow for supervised "drug rooms" like those found in the Netherlands, where individuals can safely use their drug of choice and receive counseling when needed. In 1994 the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that drug addiction was not a crime, as was the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. In 2000 the German narcotic law ("BtmG") was changed to allow for supervised drug-injection rooms. In 2002, a pilot study was started in seven German cities to evaluate the effects of heroin-assisted treatment on addicts, compared to methadone-assisted treatment. The positive results of the study led to the inclusion of heroin-assisted treatment into the services of the mandatory health insurance in 2009.
In August 2015, the German weekly Die Zeit disclosed reported that BND completed a deal with the NSA to get access to the surveillance platform XKeyscore. Internal documents show that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), received the software program XKeyscore from the NSA in return of data from Germany.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. There are no term limits in Germany. If Chancellor Angela Merkel is re-elected in 2017 and serves her full four-year term, she will tie with Helmut as the longest-serving chancellor in the history of the Bundesrepublik. Members of the Bundestag must be re-elected every five years.
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
In September 2015, Martin Winterkorn stepped down as chief executive of Volkswagen AG after it was revealed that the company rigged millions of vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. Mr. Winterkorn could receive severance compensation of up to €60 million. German prosecutors recently opened a probe to determine if Mr. Winterkorn was criminally negligible.
Marijuana is currently partially legalized in Germany with the laws varying from state to state. Berlin currently allows citizens to legally carry up to 15 grams of marijuana. Opponents argue that Germany has enough problems with tobacco and alcohol and doesn’t need any more legal drugs. Proponents argue that cutting legalizing marijuana will reduce crime by putting drug dealers out of business.
For the past two decades, hundreds of hospitals have been privatized in Germany. The number of private for-profit hospitals grew by about 90%, whereas the number of public hospitals decreased by 43%. Today, roughly one-third of German hospitals are private for-profit.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
In 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. Prisoners and those convicted of felonies have full voting rights in Germany unless they receive a court order banning them from voting.
The European Union is a politico-economic union of 28 countries with a combined population of over 510 million. The purpose of the EU was to promote free trade and immigration within its internal market. Each member country would also enact similar laws regarding agriculture and development. Germany has been a member of the EU since January 1958. Proponents leaving the EU argue that membership undermines Germany's sovereignty and leaving would help Germany control immigration. Opponents of leaving the EU argue would damage trade, cause unemployment and harm foreign investment.
Military Service is currently not required in Germany. Between 1956 and 2011 service men were required to serve at least 6 months in the service.
Germany has been under pressure from its allies and other countries to accept refugees from Syria by the end of 2015. Proponents argue that Germany has a duty to join its allies in Europe and accept at least 800,000 refugees. Opponents argue that Germany should stay out of this crisis and accepting refugees from the Middle East leads to a risk of letting terrorists into its borders.
In 2015, the German government announced it was raising its defense spending in order to meet a NATO requirement that all members budgets be at least 2% of GDP. Germany’s current military budget is 1.2% of GDP or €33 billion. The additional funding will allow the defense ministry to expand its armed forces and support NATO engagement in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
The UN. is an organization of governments founded in 1945 after World War II. The organization’s objectives include promoting peace and security, protecting human rights and the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. Recent U.N. interventions include the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In 1955 West Germany was admitted into the UN. East Germany was admitted into the UN in as a non-voting observer in 1972. In 1990 the Federal Republic of Germany was formally recognized by the UN. Germany is the third largest financial contributor to the UN and contributes $140 million annually.
Foreign electoral interventions are attempts by governments, covertly or overtly, to influence elections in another country. A 2016 study by Dov H. Levin concluded that the country intervening in most foreign elections was the United States with 81 interventions, followed by Russia (including the former Soviet Union) with 36 interventions from 1946 to 2000. In July 2018 U.S. Representative Ro Khanna introduced an amendment that would have prevented U.S. intelligence agencies from receiving funding that could be used to interfere in the elections of foreign governments. The amendment would ban U.S. agencies from “hacking foreign political parties; engaging in the hacking or manipulation of foreign electoral systems; or sponsoring or promoting media outside the United States that favors one candidate or party over another.” Proponents of election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power. Opponents argue that the amendment would send a message to other foreign countries that the U.S. does not interfere in election and set a global gold standard for preventing election interference. Opponents argue that election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on April 4th, 1949. It is a political and military alliance of member countries from Europe and North America that agree to provide military and economic security for each other. NATO makes all of its decisions by consensus and every member country, no matter how large or small, has an equal say.
Tension between Germany and Israel have escalated recently as Angela Merkel expressed doubts about the Israeli government's intentions in pursuing a two-state solution with Palestine. Mrs. Merkel disagrees with Mr. Netanyahu’s plans to expand Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.
In 2013, the German government pledged that foreign aid spending would rise to .7% of GNI. In 2015, the government’s budget included €6.44 billion or less than .4% of its GNI. Proponents argue that this is lower than other developed countries and aid spending should be increased to help combat poverty and illnesses in developing countries. Opponents argue that the German government is facing a deficit and cannot afford increased spending right now.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In Germany these documents are considered private and are not released to the public. The German federal election system does not require individuals running for public offices to release them. In Sweden, Norway and Finland citizen’s and candidate’s tax records are considered public information and are published on the internet.
The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.
Charter schools are tax payer funded K-12 schools that are managed by private companies. In Germany charter schools may only be set up if they do not increase the segregation of pupils by their parents’ income class. Private schools are supported financially by government bodies, comparable to charter schools. The amount of control over school organization, curriculum etc. taken over by the state differs from state to state and from school to school. Academically, all private schools must lead their students to the ability to attain standardized, government-provided external tests such as the Abitur.
In 2015 the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015 (Kate’s Law.) The law was introduced after San Francisco 32 year old San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was shot and killed by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez on July 1, 2015. Lopez-Sanchez was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported on five separate occasions since 1991 and been charged with seven felony convictions. Since 1991 Lopez-Sanchez had been charged with seven felony convictions and deported five times by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Although Lopez-Sanchez had several outstanding warrants in 2015 authorities were unable to deport him due to San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy which prevents law enforcement officials from questioning a resident’s immigration status. Proponents of sanctuary city laws argue that they enable illegal immigrants to report crimes without the fear of being reported. Opponents argue that sanctuary city laws provide encourage illegal immigration and prevent law enforcement authorities from detaining and deporting criminals.
Multiple citizenship, also called dual citizenship is a person's citizenship status, in which a person is concurrently regarded as a citizen of more than one state under the laws of those states. There is no international convention which determines the nationality or citizen status of a person, which is defined exclusively by national laws, which vary and can be inconsistent with each other. Some countries do not permit dual citizenship. Most countries that permit dual citizenship still may not recognize the other citizenship of its nationals within its own territory, for example, in relation to entry into the country, national service, duty to vote, etc.
An estimate made in 2009 calculated that there are 4.3 million Muslims in Germany (5.4% of the population). Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens (2.4%). As of 2006, about 15,000 Muslims are converts of ethnic German ancestry.
Skilled temporary work visas are usually given to foreign scientists, engineers, programmers, architects, executives, and other positions or fields where demand outpaces supply. Most businesses argue that hiring skilled foreign workers allows them to competitively fill positions which are in high demand. Opponents argue that skilled immigrants decrease middle class wages and job tenure.
Since 2008, anyone applying for German citizenship has had to take a test on their new country's history, politics, and values. Opponents argue that, with 300 questions, the test is too hard. Proponents argue that all immigrants applying to live in Germany should have knowledge about their new country.
In January 2014, 102 measles cases linked to an outbreak at Disneyland were reported in 14 states. The outbreak alarmed the CDC, which declared the disease eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000. Many health officials have tied the outbreak to the rising number of unvaccinated children under the age of 12. Proponents of a mandate argue that vaccines are necessary in order to insure herd immunity against preventable diseases. Herd immunity protects people who are unable to get vaccines due to their age or health condition. Opponents of a mandate believe the government should not be able to decide which vaccines their children should receive. Some opponents also believe there is a link between vaccinations and autism and vaccinating their children will have destructive consequences on their early childhood development.