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German judges split coalition over benefits

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German judges split coalition over benefits


A German court decision, ruling that the country’s benefit system is unconstitutional, has caused a rift in the ruling coalition.

The verdict undermines a major benefit reform from 2005 that cut payments to millions of claimants. It could cost the battered German economy billions. And the Liberals are not happy.

The Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: “Those who work must earn more money than those who don’t. You must be allowed to say that in Germany. Otherwise it would be Socialism.”

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that the system introduced by the Schroder government was not compatible with a law guaranteeing ‘the right to a dignified existence.’ It also criticised the way child benefits were calculated.

The reform, called Hartz IV, combined unemployment support with other social payments to urge the jobless to find work. It was a widely detested.

The Work and Social Affairs minister from the centre-right CDU applauded the judges, saying that the big winner is children’s education, and the ruling takes a new look at children and their participation in society.

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