Many Germans are up in arms following the government’s announcement public spending is going to get its most severe squeezing since the second world war.
The press headlines say it all – “How will the cuts affect you”, or “Radical cure for Germany” make it clear they will be sweeping;
“It hits the small, that’s normal, it hits us. But the rich are allowed to run free. It’s always the same. This government should quit,” was a typical reaction on the streets.
The fierce reaction from people, the unions and the opposition means Angela Merkel’s coalition seems set on a political collision course in the next few weeks. Opposition has focussed on the wisdom of sucking nearly 100 billion euros out of the economy without raising tax revenues; many say this means the poor will pick up the tab.
“Nobody should underestimate our anger over the way these policies unfairly tilt the social balance, and our determination to correct them,” said trade union federation leader Michael Sommer.
Apart from welfare benefits for the long term unemployed it is feared children will suffer as the social security system will bear the brunt of the cuts.