Thursday, December 12, 2013

GroKo and BAföG

The elections to the Bundestag were held at the end of September and Germany still has no government.

In Thailand people are taking to the streets against the government. In the Ukraine too.
And we don't even have a government to demonstrate against.
Note: the people are wearing Germany's national colors (©Harm Bengen)
Lengthy coalition negotiations between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats eventually led to an agreement on legislation projects for the coming four years.

The coalition has 503 and the opposition 127 seats in the Bundestag:
One fart from us -- and things will be quiet down back there (©BZ; Stuttmann).

However, before the Gro-Ko-deal* may come into force all members of the latter party were asked to approve the Elefantenhochzeit (marriage between the black and the red elephant) by December 13.
*German pun with the word Krokodil, i.e., Großer Koalitionsdeal that translates into grand coalition deal.

Stop the press: Red Baron just learned that GroKo has been chosen Germany's new word of the year.

A GroKo made from concrete in Freiburg? I would rather call it a Crocon.
As you may imagine the coalition agreement is an expensive compromise on the combined promises made by both parties during their election campaign. Due to lack of money many a promise will remain on paper that, as we all know, is patient. In particular, one expenditure both parties agreed upon will be axed: an increase in the ceiling of BAföG. The Bundesausbildungsrderungsgesetz (Federal law concerning the support of high and tertiary school education and academic training) provides interest-free loans to students for financing their studies. Borrowers start paying back their loans once they earn some money. I do not want to give you a lesson on BAföG but instead would like to comment on a poster full of demands students at the Humboldt University in Berlin produced for the recent federal election:

As one of my most loyal readers observed, Red Baron likes alliterations and here we go:

These demands translate as follows into English albeit without alliterations:

BAFöG instead of bankruptcy. No more money for that. The parties instead agreed to serve their clients, i.e., aging mothers and worn-out skilled-workers with increased pensions. This did neither please the young Christian Democrats (Junge Union) nor the young Social Democrats (Jusos) who rightly criticized that once more the young have to pay for the old.

Student canteen instead of instant noodles means that students demand enough money so they can afford decent meals.

Work instead of illegal employment requests that it should be possible for students to find real jobs instead of working without paying taxes and without being insured.

Student dormitory instead of camper van. In fact, there is a lack of student accommodations all over Germany so that some do sleep in rather unusual places.

Advising instead of burnout. In comparison with the States, academic advising at German universities is an area still in need of improvement. Indeed, some students not guided properly in their studies have been diagnosed with signs of an early burnout.

Culture instead of console. Give the means to students so that they may participate in cultural activities instead of playing computer games. Here I do not agree. Already at the time when Red Baron was among the student population operas, theaters, and concerts were offering tickets at a reduced affordable price to students although we had to be early in line and stay there for long periods to get those.

Day care center instead of being childless. This demand I do not understand. Does that mean the female students aim to get pregnant and then will park their offspring in day care centers? I understand that women will always have a problem matching both family and career; but then nursing babies in lecture halls?

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