The German team may be out of the World Cup but Chancellor Angela Merkel has scored politically, pushing through a key constitutional reform that had eluded her predecessors. Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has approved reforms to the country’s federal system.
They pave the way for the biggest constitutional shake-up since the republic was founded after the Second World War. The Bundesrat has given up some veto rights over planned laws in return for more independence.
Conservative and Bavarian state premier Edmund Stoiber said federalism is being given a new boost in Germany. He believes that it would not have been possible to get that far without the grand coalition. Social Democrat Kurt Beck says he is sure that the new law shows that the German republic wants to make far-reaching reforms and that it is able to do so.
In return for losing some of their vetos, states will get increased autonomy in areas such as education, setting salaries for the public sector, the penal system and retail opening hours. Two federal states voted against the reforms, fearful that only wealthy areas would benefit. The plans are the first of three key reform projects that Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised to implement.