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Coalition leader warns Germany risks reform fatigue

Coalition leader warns Germany risks reform fatigue

Germans' capacity for economic reform could be exhausted by the time the government has completed its current program, the leader of one of the country's governing parties warned on Wednesday.
Kurt Beck, chairman of the center-left Social Democrats, made the comments in an interview published in the daily Die Welt.
"What is necessary must be done, but we also must see that there are limits to (people's) capacity," Beck was quoted as saying. "I can only advise that these limits not be exceeded ... people must be able to digest and come to terms with what changes are necessary."
"Once what we have set in motion is implemented, the limit of reasonableness will be reached," Beck added.
His comments are seen as a warning of the limitations Chancellor Angela Merkel faces in modernizing Europe's biggest economy and its expensive, regulation-bound welfare state.
As opposition leader, the conservative Merkel advocated far-reaching economic reform during last year's election campaign. However, that cost her votes in last year's election, and she was forced into a less ambitious "grand coalition" with the Social Democrats.
The alliance has agreed to gradually raise the retirement age to 67 from 65 and embarked on a much-criticized reform of the public health insurance system, and it is cutting and simplifying corporate taxes and plans limited labor market reform. However, the coalition appears unlikely to agree on much deeper change.
The coalition partners hold nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament, but the government's ability to form an agenda sometimes has been weighed down by a lack of common ground between the parties, which are traditional rivals.
Government spokesman Thomas Steg characterized Beck's comments as "his personal evaluation" and said he and Merkel stand by the government's program.
"The coalition still has sufficient work left to do," he told reporters.


Updated : 2021-02-27 19:03 GMT+08:00