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Back at It Again: German Leaders Try to Form a Government

The Social Democrats support legislation that would allow Germany to admit qualified immigrants to fill thousands of openings in companies and factories. The official in charge of Germany’s national labor agency has said the country will need 300,000 qualified immigrants annually to fill the gaps, because record employment has made it difficult to find enough workers. Conservatives are reluctant to back any new measures that would allow more foreigners to enter the country.

Health and Elder Care

The Social Democrats would like to replace the current mix of private and public providers with a universal system financed by taxpayers, similar to Britain’s National Health Service. That would end what they see as effectively a two-class system, but Ms. Merkel’s conservatives want to preserve the current system.

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Back at It Again: German Leaders Try to Form a Government
Back at It Again: German Leaders Try to Form a Government

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All parties agree, however, on the need to improve care for nearly three million people, mostly older Germans who are dependent on care, either in their own homes or in facilities.

European Unity

Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democrats, has called for a “United States of Europe” by 2025, a notion that conservatives have rejected as unrealistic.

One sticking point will be a common approach on changes to the eurozone, along the lines proposed by President Emmanuel Macron of France, who is seeking a shared budget and governing structure.

Despite reluctance in her party, Ms. Merkel understands the need to maintain a strong Franco-German alliance.

Education

The German Constitution gives states jurisdiction over schools and universities within their boundaries, but the Social Democrats want to change that law, eliminating a byzantine financing structure.

That, in turn, would let more federal money flow directly to schools, allowing them to hire more teachers and improve their infrastructure. Conservatives want to increase education spending, but within the framework of the current system.

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