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Yearbook 1998

1998 GermanyGermany. According to Countryaah, Germany experienced a regime change after the general elections in September when the SPD, the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Germany's Social Democratic Party), formed a coalition government with the environmental party Die Grünen (The Greens), led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the SPD. Thus ended a 16-year power struggle under former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his CDU, Christlich-Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union). Shortly after the election defeat, Kohl left the party chairmanship post at the CDU, which he had held for 25 years, and was succeeded by Wolfgang Schäuble, who, for the West German side, led the negotiations for Germany's reunification.

1998 Germany

One success for Die Grünen was that, according to the coalition agreement, the government will initiate a decommissioning of nuclear power in agreement with the power companies. However, these threatened to claim damages in excess of DEM 100 billion if nuclear power is wound up prematurely. The party's biggest success was that their frontal figure, Joschka Fischer, became Foreign Minister, the most prominent position a green politician has ever achieved in Europe.

An ecological tax shift was also on the government's agenda. This means that energy taxes are increased and employers' fees are lowered in the hope that this will create more jobs. In addition, a tax reform was agreed, which in a few years' time will give a normal family tax relief of the equivalent of SEK 12,000. The cooperation stopped somewhat within the Social Democratic Party. The contradictions were mainly between Schröder and Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, who is also chairman of the SPD. Schröder advocates a pragmatic middle politics, while Lafontaine wants a strong, ideologically oriented state as a counterbalance to a globalized economy.

There was a general consensus that the existing civil law law should be amended, where the principle is that it is the German origin that determines who can obtain a German passport. It has so far meant that German kittens in e.g. the former Soviet Union has had easy citizenship, while immigrant children born in Germany have had a very difficult time obtaining citizenship and thus have not gained voting rights. The law led in late autumn to the Constitutional Court opening the way for a 14-year-old Turkish boy, born and raised in Germany but who had committed a long series of crimes, was expelled to Turkey where he had never been.

In the Saxony-Anhalt state elections, the right-wing extremist DVU, Deutsche Volksunion (German People's Union) received 13% of the vote. It was the biggest success that a right-wing extremist party has had in the country since Hitler's days. Shortly thereafter, supporters of DVU and the neo-Nazi NPD, the National Democratic Party of Germany (Germany's National Democratic Party) conducted a march in Rostock in the northeast where over 4,000 leather heads and others marched through the city in uniform-like clothing while waving old national-flag flags with the center cross.

In Leipzig, in southeastern Germany, nearly 6,000 people gathered on May 1 in the largest neo-Nazi manifestation since the 1960s. Claims broke out between police and protesters and counter-protesters. An investigation showed that right-wing acts of violence against mainly immigrants increased sharply, especially in the eastern part of the country.

The large German electrical technology and electronics group Siemens announced that it had set up a fund equivalent to DKK 96 million. kr. to compensate for the still-living people that the company used as slave laborers during the Nazi period. There were several examples of a tendency among German large companies to, through mergers, strengthen their positions before the currency union and benefit from rising stock prices. Germany's largest industrial group Daimler-Benz merged with American Chrysler to DaimlerChrysler. At the same time, German Deutsche Bank and American Bankers Trust joined forces to form the world's largest bank, as well as German chemical and pharmaceutical giant Hoechst negotiated a merger with the French pharmaceutical company Rhône-Poulenc.

A train accident in the northern German city of Eschede claimed 100 deaths and several hundred injured, of which 73 were serious.

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