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Yearbook 2011

2011 GermanyGermany. The nuclear accident in Fukushima in Japan in March led to a slap in German energy policy. The government, which the year before tore up a previous red-green decision to decommission nuclear power, changed. Eight reactors were shut down immediately and eventually it was decided that the remaining nine reactors would be closed by 2022. Nuclear power had long been a hot battle issue in Germany, but the new decision was made with broad political backing.

According to Countryaah official site, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg ended up in blustery weather when plagiarism was revealed in his doctoral dissertation. He rejected the accusations but the criticism grew into a storm; inter alia wrote 23,000 graduates during a protest letter. At first, zu Guttenberg set aside his doctorate, but on March 1 he was forced to leave the government as well. It was seen as a severe setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel; zu Guttenberg had been the government's most popular minister. New Minister of Defense was formerly Minister of the Interior Thomas De Maizière.

2011 Germany

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle resigned in April as leader of the liberal FDP, which raged in opinion polls following the government formation with the Christian Democrats. New leader and vice-chancellor became Philipp Rösler, who was also appointed Minister of Business and Industry.

A neo-Nazi terror group, the so-called Zwickaucelle, was unveiled in November. The group included two men who committed suicide before they could be arrested, and a woman who surrendered to the police. Since 1998, they had formed an underground cell that murdered nine people with immigrant backgrounds and a police officer. The group must also have been behind a series of bank robberies and two explosions. Several other people were arrested on suspicion of actively supporting the group. The case caused shock and self-examination. Critics claimed that the focus on Islamists ignored the threat of right-wing extremists. Both chambers of Parliament condemned in an unusual, joint statement the murders, and the government re-examined the possibility of banning the right-wing party NPD.

Regional elections were held in seven of the 16 states during the year. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic CDU lost support in most quarters and lost power in two states. In Hamburg, the election had been announced since the former blue-green coalition collapsed; the result was that the Social Democratic SPD gained its own majority, which is unusual in German politics. In Baden-Württemberg, the defeat was particularly devastating: the CDU lost for the first time in 58 years and Germany got its first green prime minister in leadership for a coalition with the SPD.

In the Social Democrat-led Bremen, the Greens were bigger than the CDU, which never happened before in a state election. In Berlin, the newly formed Pirate Party got 9% of the vote and a seat in a state parliament for the first time. For the CDU's coalition partners at the national level, the election year became a disaster: the liberal FDP fell below the 5 percent barrier and remained without representation in five of the states.

The debt crisis in Europe created a difficult balance sheet for Merkel. Expectations were high in the outside world that Germany, with its strong economy, would help save weaker states from economic collapse. At the same time, opposition was strong among German voters. The coalition government faltered in September, when the new FDP leader Rösler appeared to be open to the possibility of bankrupting Greece. But Merkel's position was strengthened when the Constitutional Court ruled that Germany's contribution to the EU's rescue packages did not violate German law. In addition, she received strong support during the Confederation Day for the strengthening of the eurozone crisis fund EFSF.

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