Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2017 Bundestag (Wahlkreis 177) election.
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.”
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.
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.
In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 criticize the agreement for reducing regulations on food safety and environmental legislation.
In 2019 the European Union and U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren issued proposals that would regulate Facebook, Google and Amazon. Senator Warren proposed that the U.S. government should designate tech companies who have global revenue of over $25 billion as “platform utilities" and break them up into smaller companies. Senator Warren argues that the companies have “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.” Lawmakers in the European Union proposed a set of rules which include a blacklist of unfair trading practices, requirements that companies set up an internal system to handle complaints and allow businesses to group together to sue platforms. Opponents argue that these companies have benefited consumers by providing free online tools and bring more competition into commerce. Opponents also point out that history has shown that dominance in technology is a revolving door and that many companies (including IBM in the 1980’s) have cycled through it with little to no help from the government.
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 tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.
A state-owned enterprise is a business enterprise where the government or state has significant control through full, majority, or significant minority ownership. During the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic advisor, said the Trump administration would consider asking for an equity stake in corporations that needed taxpayer aid. “One of the ideas is, if we provide assistance, we might take an equity position,” Kudlow said Wednesday at the White House, adding that the 2008 bailout of [the automaker General Motors] had been a good deal for the federal government. After the 2008 financial crisis the US Government invested $51 billion into GM’s bankruptcy through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. In 2013 the Government sold its stake in GM for $39 billion. The Center for Automotive Research found that the bailout saved 1.2 million jobs and preserved 34.9 billion in tax revenue. Proponents argue that US taxpayers deserve a return on their investments if private companies need capital. Opponents argue that governments should never own shares of private companies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. Nuclear power in Germany accounted for 17.7% of national electricity supply in 2011, compared to 22.4% in 2010. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
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.
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.
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.
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 November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
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.
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.
In November 2018 German chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France announced that they would support the creation of a European army. Ms. Merkel said that the EU should rely less on the U.S. for military support and that “Europeans should take our fate more into our own hands if we want to survive as a European community.” Ms. Merkley said the army would not oppose NATO. President Marcon said the army is needed to protect the EU against China, Russia and the United States. Proponents argue that the EU lacks a united defence force to handle sudden conflicts outside of NATO. Opponents question how the army would fund itself since many EU countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence.
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.
Germany and coalition forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 terror attacks. After the attacks , U.S. intelligence officials determined that the Afghani-based militant organization Al-Qaeda was responsible. In 2001 90% of Afghanistan was controlled by the Sunni Islamic military organization The Taliban. After the Taliban refused requests by U.S. President George W. Bush to dismantle Al-Qaeda coalition forces launched military operations known as Operation Enduring Freedom. As of June 27, 2019 57 troops from Germany died in the conflict.
The UK and Northern Ireland are scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. Under a transition agreement all trade and economic relations between the UK and the EU will remain the same until the end of 2022. In 2018 members of parliament and Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a “backstop” which would allow the UK and Northern Ireland to remain inside the EU’s single market for goods and farm products. Proponents argue that keeping the UK in the EU’s customers area will boost the economy by streamlining trade and tourism. Opponents, including anti-EU lawmakers, argue that the backstop would lock the UK inside the EU’s customs area permanently and prevent it from signing trade deals on its own.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.