The railway workers' strike paralyzes transport in the country.
Official economic figures tend to confirm the malaise. For example, those of foreign trade, published at the beginning of January, indicate that over one year, from the end of 2022 to the end of 2023, exports – the spearhead and pride of the German economy – fell by 5%, and imports by 12%. These figures go hand in hand with stagnation in consumption and a decline in certain traditional industries.
And again, this decline took place in the context of a year of high inflation, which means that the quantity of goods and services sold abroad (at increased prices) fell by more than 5%: perhaps be more like 10%.
In 2023, the recession in Germany was -0.3%. The projections for 2024 are no better.
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Farmers demonstrate in Dresden.
Competition from China it hurts. But also, the decline of China as a former loyal client of Germany.
For cars, machine tools, metallurgy, the Chinese – consumers and businesses – have been, since the turn of the century, the major buyers of German products and services. But since the pandemic, this market has dried up.
Because of the Chinese industrial slowdown, which is significant, but also because, for example, in the electric car sector, the Germans are downright downgraded by Chinese manufacturers.
Diesel or gasoline Mercedes and Volkswagens are now becoming rarer on Chinese roads, as are Japanese Hondas and Toyotas. What replaces them? Millions of electric cars made in China!
This painful slowdown of the German machine has of course political effects, notably a weakening of the Party coalition social democrat with the liberals and Die Grünen (ecologists).
Weakening accentuated by a budgetary crisis itself fueled by the Constitutional Court.
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Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the weekly meeting of the government.
Because in Germany, this court also ensures the budgetary orthodoxy enshrined in the constitution. On November 15, it outright prohibited certain deficit public spending and the transfer of budgetary items to uses other than those which had been planned. Result: a hole of 60 billion euros compared to the last budget of the Scholz government! Even in rich Germany, this is not a negligible sum.
Political translation: the ruling coalition, which in 2021 had gathered around 52% of the votes cast, would now be worth only 35 or 38%, according to polls recent.
For whose benefit? For the benefit of the extremes of left and right and especially the xenophobic Alternative für Deutschland party. After obtaining 10% in the 2021 elections, this party now stands at 22% in opinion polls.
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