After months of post-election wrangling, big questions remain about Germany’s future

A parade float in Dusseldorf depicting  the exhaust scandal at  Volkswagen.  Photograph: Getty Images

Leaked government paper suggests public money be used to pay for retrofits

Andrea Nahles, parliamentary group leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD): is hoping to be the party’s first woman leader, but has stood aside as acting chairperson until the formal vote. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel

‘We need clear positions, courage and decisiveness,’ says hopeful leader Andrea Nahles

Detained without charge: Deniz Yücel hugs his wife, Dilek Mayatürk Yücel, after being released in Istanbul. Photograph: Veysel Ok/Twitter via Reuters

Berlin insists it struck no political deal to free Deniz Yücel

“Not satisfied with the sealed packages and bits of bone displayed elsewhere, Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria displays a skull discovered in the early 1800s which it claims to be that of St Valentine himself, wearing a crown of flowers.”

Many European churches – besides one in Dublin – claim to hold relics of St Valentine

 Lawyer Remo Klinger: “Cars are for Germans what small arms are for the Americans. As soon as someone tries to do anything to limit the car, huge resistance builds up”

Berlin lawyer’s case will ask the question: do air quality laws exist on paper or in practice?

Angela Merkel says she felt bound to her campaign promise to serve a full term both as chancellor and CDU leader. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

German chancellor’s party critics have accused her of negotiating badly in coalition deal

Martin Schulz: has announced he will abandon his bid to become foreign minister in a new coalition government with chancellor Angela Merkel. Photograph: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty

Angry emails and party pressure force SDP leader to step down and suggest successor

Chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party  Andrea Nahles: says  coalition agreement carries a “big, fat social democratic signature”.  Photograph: Clemens Bilan

Andrea Nahles’s first task will be to sell the Merkel coalition deal to SPD members

Horst Seehofer, leader of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and Martin Schulz, leader of the social democratic SPD party. Photograph: Tobias Schwartz/AFP/Getty Images

Derek Scally: Three big parties eventually sign off on deal amid talk of post-Merkel era

Christian Democratic Union leader and German chancellor Angela Merkel, Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer (left) and Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz speaking in Berlin on Wednesday. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Social Democrats secure finance portfolio in talks with Angela Merkel’s CDU

Director Anne Zohra Berrached made 24 Weeks when she learned that about  90 per cent of Down syndrome pregnancies in Germany are terminated. Photograph: Michael Hübner

Anti-abortion campaigners link Down syndrome abortions to Nazi eugenics practices

A woman hangs out washing in her back yard on a line attached to a section of the Berlin Wall in August 1963. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

From 1961 to 1989, Soviet construct made sure ‘angst, discipline and conformity ruled’

Participants known as “lifeguards” at an anti-abortion protest march through Berlin. Photograph:  Markus Heine/SOPA Images/ LightRocket via Getty Images

The country’s vague regulations are stirring tensions with both camps seeking change

German chancellor  Angela Merkel needs SPD support in parliament to secure a fourth term and avoid fresh elections. Photograph: Kay Nietfeld/DPA via AP

Stand-off over health and labour market reform stalls discussions to create government

Republic of Ireland fans in  Gdansk, Poland, for Euro 2012, with a bailout message for German chancellor Angela Merkel. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

An official review of the two countries’ relationship is under way. It’s time to think anew

Screen grab of Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaking on his YouTube channel. English subtitles show him saying camps where millions of Jews were murdered in the second World were Polish.

Mateusz Morawiecki errors appear to break ban on blaming Poland for Nazi atrocities

 A computer-generated image  showing an Aldi store on the ground floor of a residential building which will be built in Berlin, Germany. Image: Aldi Nord/EPA

Plans will help city’s growing population, with almost one-third available as social housing

Under the proposed legislation, violators would face three years in prison for a mention of “Polish death camps.” Pictured is Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. Photograph: Istock

Bill passed by senate makes it illegal to accuse Polish nation of complicity in the Holocaust

An ad for vegetarian sweets features a Muslim woman in a headscarf at Hauptbahnhof railway station in Berlin. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Arthur Wagner changes name to Ahmad and declares plan to unite Germans and Muslims

The industry lobby group EUGT, which commissioned and financed the research, hoped the results would show the modern German diesel caused less irritation in the monkeys tested.

Emissions tests showed VW fumes more harmful to animals than 20-year-old Ford’s

Volkswagen lobbyist Thomas Steg was suspended following  revelations of emissions tests on monkeys in the United States and 25 human volunteers in Germany, co-financed by VW.

Emissions tests on people and monkeys ‘wrong, unethical, repugnant’, says VW chief

Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie circa 1940.  Both were members of the non-violent White Rose resistance group against the Nazis. After their arrest for distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich, they were convicted of high treason and executed by guillotine. Photograph:  Authenticated News/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Hans Scholl flirted with Hitler Youth before he and sister Sophie were executed by the Nazis

A protester with  a sign reading Diesel-Abgase Toeten! (Diesel Emissions Kill) at  the ministry of transport in Berlin. Reports of  experiments with diesel pollutants on animals and people  have caused horror in German political circles. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Daimler, BMW and VW implicated as politicians react with horror to news of trials

The Beck brewery bottling plant in Bremen,  Germany. Photograph: Joerg Sarbach

Berlin duo achieve the transformation after spotting a loophole in bottle deposit system

A visitor to the Ikea museum in Almhult, Sweden, takes a photo of a portrait of the late Ingvar Kamprad, founder of  Swedish multinational furniture retailer Ikea, today. Photograph: Ola Torkelsson/TT News Agency/Reuters

Cost-conscious stores revolutionised furniture design and interior decoration

Leader of the German Social Democrats  Martin Schulz leaving the Konrad Adenauer building, the Christian Democratic Union  headquarters, after coalition talks  in Berlin. Photograph: John MacDougall/Getty Images

German parties promise ‘speedy’ talks after keeping voters waiting 123 days

Turkish army tanks  at  the Syrian border at Hassa: Germany exported €25.1 billion in arms last year, making it the  third-largest arms dealer. Photograph: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty

Use of German-built Leopard-2s in Syria sparks claim arms policy ‘morally depraved’

Udo Landbauer: “For me it’s clear these [extremist] songs were not sung,” he said on national television. “I’m not that much of a singer.” Photograph:   Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images

FPÖ’s Udo Landbauer was member of academic fraternity with extremist traditions

Mr Schrems said in going to a neutral court, Facebook will have to explain  whether its business model is in line with stringent European privacy laws

ECJ says Austrian privacy activist can take action as an individual against the company

AfD parliamentary group co-leader Alexander Gauland walks past German chancellor Angela Merkel in the Bundestag in Berlin. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Far-right party set to take role of chair of powerful budgetary committee

‘We try to address the fundamental themes in Joyce – birth, death, love, sex,’ says actor Ulrich Matthes

Joyce's famous work is getting a radical reworking in Berlin by director Sebastian Hartmann

Martin Schulz, leader of the German social democratic SPD party. On Monday he said he would take another week to work out his next steps. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Future of deal uncertain after SPD seeks further concessions from Angela Merkel

 Germany’s social democratic SPD party y wants to revisit issues blocked by Merkel allies the last time around: abolition of Germany’s two-tier, private-public health system and liberal migration controls. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Breakthrough does not assure the acting chancellor a fourth term, however

SPD chief Martin Schulz: “Now we will try to unite the party after this tough discussion.” Photograph: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images

SPD leader Martin Schulz hails close 56% yes vote for talks: ‘We are all relieved, of course’

Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party: he and his grand coalition are facing a revolt from Kevin Kühnert (28), dubbed “babyface” by a German tabloid this week. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Country’s political future – and with it Angela Merkel’s future – hinges on Sunday’s meeting

Firefighters removing trees which fell on a high-speed train near Lamspringe, northern Germany on Thursday. Photograph:  Outswen Pfortner/AFP/Getty Images

At least eight people dead and estimated €500m damage to infrastructure

Acting German chancellor Angela Merkel arrives at a memorial ceremony for the deceased former president of the German parliament Philipp Jenninger in Berlin. Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Chancellor to be pressed about her appetite for EU reform

Mário Centeno: encouraged by German signals. Photograph: Bloomberg

Mário Centeno wants concrete progress during ‘unique window of opportunity’

German acting chancellor Angela Merkel and Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

In turn Austrian chancellor has a dig at Germany’s hardening immigration attitudes

President of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees  Jutta Cordt and interior minister Thomas de Maizière: “The federal office for migration and refugees is no longer preoccupied with managing the crisis consequences,” said Mr de Maizière. Photograph:  Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty

Refugee requests are down almost 80% from peak of 890,000 two years ago

Pack a small bag – booklet preps Swedes for war, terror attacks and pandemics

Kevin Kühnert, the leader of the youth wing of Germany’s social democrat SPD party, during a press conference on Monday. He argues that the coalition deal with Angela Merkel’s CDU involves swallowing too many “very bitter pills”. Photograph:   Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Dissent growing in party over terms of deal with Merkel’s CDU ahead of key meeting

Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of Germany’s conservative CDU party, and Martin Schulz, leader of Germany’s social democratic SPD party, at  a press conference in Berlin to announce their coalition. Photograph:  Kay Nietfeld/AFP/Getty Images

Like three SPD leaders before him, Martin Schulz has taken a huge chance - for himself and his ailing party

Germany’s acting chancellor Angela Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schulz. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Spooked SPD officials are floating the idea of renegotiating the preliminary agreement

German chancellor and CDU leader Angela Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schulz shake hands in Berlin on Friday following all-night preliminary coalition talks. Photograph: Steffi Loos/Getty Images

Coalition parties name Irish-based tech giants in vow to tackle tax fraud and avoidance

Germany’s acting chancellor, Angela Merkel, flanked by CSU leader Horst Seehofer (left) and SDP leader Martin Schulz in Berlin on Friday following overnight coalition negotiations. Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Difficult path to fourth term as chancellor awaits after ‘hard, turbulent’ CDU-SPD talks

The leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD), Martin Schulz,  during statements on Friday following all-night preliminary coalition talks in Berlin. Photograph:   Steffi Loos/Getty Images

Germany’s prospective partners gave EU first three pages of preliminary coalition deal

The leader of Germany’s social democratic SPD party Martin Schulz and acting German chancellor Angela Merkel are in talks to form a new government. Photograph: Getty

CDU and Bavarian CSU ally unable to form a government since elections in September

German acting chancellor Angela Merkel and the leader of Germany’s social democratic SPD party Martin Schulz. Photograph: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

Fears that a third grand coalition in 12 years could be lowest common denominator affair

Malvina and Diaa. Screengrab: kika.de

German far-right casts short film on children’s TV as manipulative ‘indoctrination’

Austria’s interior minister, Herbert Kickl, speaks to the media as he arrives for a cabinet meeting in Vienna on Wednesday. Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

Freedom Party has proposed interning asylum seekers in camps outside Vienna

Beatrix von Storch of Alternative for Deutschland: law has allowed her to stir up resentment against minorities and portray herself as the the victim of the politically correct “elite”. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo/Reuters

New law already used to ban AfD member from Twitter – but critics are lining up

 SDP’s Andrea Nahles: doesn’t shy away from tough talk on security and immigration, demanding a crack-down on refugees in Germany who lie about their identity or age. Photograph: EPA/Omer Messinger

These six emboldened young politicians are starting to breathe down elders’ necks

Acting German chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz before exploratory talks. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

Merkel’s party is determined to cling to power, but the SPD is ambivalent

  Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel: the refugee question, which she  sprang on her own people two years ago, has come back to haunt her. Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

After 100 days in limbo Angela Merkel begins talks on forming a government with the centre-left Social Democrats. Top of the agend(...)

Margo Lion und Gustav Gründgens performing in “Alles Schwindel” at Theater am Kurfürstendamm, Berlin, in 1931. Photograph: Theodor Fanta/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Berlin Letter: Major revival of forgotten Weimar-era operetta is proving a hit

German chancellor Angela Merkel: polls shows almost two-thirds of Germans agree she is still “a good chancellor”. Photograph: Michele Tantussi

CDU needs to offer major concessions to gain support of SPD leader Martin Schulz

Bavarian Prime Minister and head of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party Horst Seehofer arrives at Kloster Seeon. Photograph: Lukas Barth/EPA

Address by ‘authoritarian’ Viktor Orban seen as hardening of party stance on immigration

Carolin Matthie: “I have a plan if I’m attacked and that feels better.”  Photograph: Youtube screenshot

High-profile attacks have made some Germans insecure, but the crime data is complex

Germany’s acting chancellor Angela Merkel after the television recording of her annual new year’s speech. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Pool photo

German leader’s influence is diminishing as her country faces continued political limbo

Angela Merkel: after a 27-year career of being underestimated, no one should underrate her ability to make political lemonade from election-night lemons. Photograph: Axel Schmidt/Reuters

Angela Merkel has failed in her promise to leave the stage at a moment of her choosing

Former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel and CDU leader Angela Merkel. “Across western and northern Europe traditionally left-wing working-class voters are furious at Europe’s neo-liberal ‘anything goes’ status quo.” Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Far right mopping up votes as left drifts from traditional base, says SPD ex-leader

Sebastian Kurz: the 31-year-old  leader reiterated Austria’s commitment to the European Union. Photograph:  Reuters/ Leonhard Foeger

Sebastian Kurz’s comments were clear nod to his Eurosceptic coalition partner, the Freedom Party

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans in Brussels on Wednesday. “If you put an end or limit the separation of powers, you break down the rule of law, and that means breaking down the smooth functioning of the union as a whole,” he said. Photograph:  Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

‘Article 7’ invoked by Brussels over concerns Warsaw’s reforms undermine rule of law

A woman places a candle at the memorial at the site of last year’s truck attack in a Christmas market, which killed 12 people and injured many others, at Breitscheidplatz square in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Memorial comes amid criticism from victims’ families of bureaucracy, government apathy

The truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin on December 19th, 2016.  Twelve people were killed in the  terror attack, with the German government since criticised for how it has treated  relatives. Photograph:  Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Empathy is what family of Berlin Christmas market dead say is lacking in wake of attack

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz:  “We will do what we think is correct.” Photograph: Bloomberg

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz signals plan to reset ‘incorrect refugee and migration policy’

 Austrian chancellor to be Sebastian Kurz of the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP). “We’ll fight for our interests, for our views, but in the EU we will respect decisions.” Photograph: Getty Images

New programme for coalition government promises to prioritise ‘our citizens’

Austrian conservative Sebastian Kurz (31) feels he has a mandate for change in a continent destabilised by politicians twice his age. Photograph: Alex Halada/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: Right/far-right coalitions within realm of possibility in other EU countries

An ancient book with Jewish text, part of the “Welcome to Jerusalem” exhibition in  Berlin.  The diverse challenges Jerusalem faces are presented in historical displays, artistic reactions and medial staging. Photograph: Felipe Trueba/EPA

Challenge was presenting five millennia of history – 55 attacks, 23 sieges, two levelings – in 15 rooms

French president Emmanuel Macron and Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki ahead of a bilateral meeting at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels on Friday. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

New PM Mateusz Morawiecki draws parallels with post-Vichy France and post-Franco Spain

  German chancellor Angela Merkel and SPD leader Martin Schulz:  The centre-left SPD wants greater social and infrastructure spending and reform of the two-tier health system. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

SPD party suggests ‘co-operation’ coalition to support chancellor’s fourth term in office

Police attend site of an attack near a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden, on December 9th. Photograph: Adam Ihse/Reuters

Anti-Semitic chants in Berlin, Gothenburg and Vienna in wake of US Jerusalem decision

German chancellor Angela Merkel (right) in Berlin central station  after riding in the  driver’s cockpit of the new high-speed ICE train. Photograph:  EPA

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn optimistic new Berlin to Munich rail link will revolutionise travel in Germany

Revellers at the Love Parade in Duisburg on July 24th, 2010, at which 21 people died and 640  were injured in a  stampede. Photograph: Daniel Naupold

Six Duisburg city officials and four staff of organisers in court over mass stampede

A decade ago, Matthias Wissman became head of the VDA, the German auto industry’s lobby group, a high-profile position requiring guile, brass neck and an enviable contacts book. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Chief of auto industry lobby group VDA says German carmakers still well regarded abroad

Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democrat Party (SPD), after delivering his speech during the SPD’s federal party convention in Berlin on Thursday. Photograph:  Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

SPD leader urges closer EU integration and describes Ireland as ‘accomplice’ in Apple tax case

U2 busking on the U2 underground train line in Berlin. Photograph: U2/Instagram

Band performs 15-minute set on platform to promote new album ‘Songs of Experience’

Martin Schulz, leader of Germany’s social democrat SPD party. Photograph: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Neither the SPD nor the CDU want to go back to voters for fear the AfD’s rise will accelerate

Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydlo greeting finance minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who is tipped to succeed her, in Warsaw on Tuesday. Photograph: Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

Mateusz Morawiecki, a one-time honorary Irish consul, favourite to succeed Beata Szydlo

 A man reaches for another participant as they dance in front of a giant European flag during the monthly pro-EU rally titled “Pulse of Europe” in Berlin. The citizens’ initiative was founded to encourage EU citizens to promote a “pan-European” identity. Photograph: Felipe Trueba/EPA

Women campaigning for European integration win prize

Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder (right, as Marilyn Monroe)  hopes to leverage his personal popularity in Bavaria to revive the CSU’s fortunes. Photograph: David Ebener/EPA

Bavarian allies may cause headache for Merkel after rise of dress-up fan Markus Söder

A sign in a shop owned by Jewish people in Berlin, Germany. Photograph: Visual Studies Workshop/Getty Images

Pascale Hugues proves that the best stories really are lying around on the streets

The Staatsoper under construction: The state opera house was supposed to reopen four years ago at a cost of €240 million. Instead it has taken twice as long and, at €400 million, has proven almost twice as expensive. Photograph: Gordon Welters

Destroyed and rebuilt three times in three centuries, the Staatsoper is a copy of a copy

A policeman with a fire extinguisher over his shoulder walks next to a police car in front of a Christmas market stall in Potsdam,  after it was evacuated by policeon Friday. Photograph: Felipe Turela/EPA

Police in Potsdam say ‘unconventional explosive device’ was incapable of exploding

Martin Schulz, German leader of the Social Democratic Party. Photograph: Kay Nietfeld/AFP/Getty Images

Leader Schulz adopts bad cop role and makes demands to win over party sceptics

The leader of the Social Democrats, Martin Schulz (right) arrives for talks with chancellor Angela Merkel, hosted by German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on left.  Photograph: Axel Schmidt/Reuters

Party leaders obliged to negotiate from unenviable position of weakness, not strength

US president Donald Trump’s Twitter accounts: communication link with his 43.5 million followers was temporarily suspended. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Bahtiyar Duysak says complaints process led to 11-minute stalling of US president account

Privacy activist Max Schrems , whose new project, noyb, is gathering funding via a Kickstarter-like platform until January. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Privacy activist is creating a non-profit organisation to fight for data protection

German  chancellor Angela Merkel and agriculture minister Christian Schmidt have been criticised for backing a five-year license for European use of the herbicide glyphosate. Photograph: AFP / John MacDougall

Approval of five-year licence for European use of glyphosate herbicide sparks divisions

 Two policewomen walk among stalls at the annual Christmas market on its opening day at Breitscheidplatz, a year after 11 people were killed in a terrorist attack. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty

Extra security measures underline unease lingering since December 2016 lorry killings

Acting German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with Social Democratic Party leader Martin Schulz. Photograph: Axel Schmidt/Reuters

Challenges at home and in Europe make it ‘desirable to form government very quickly’

Martin Schulz: shift follows annoyance among senior SPD figures at his haste in pushing for fresh elections before considering other options. Photograph: Stefanie Loos/EPA

Two months after poll, there is cross-party agreement on the risks of another election

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier meets SPD leader Martin Schulz. Photograph: Jesco Denzel /Government’s Press Office

Martin Schulz holds talks with president as figures in party back grand coalition

Construction workers outside  Berlin Brandenburg International airport  in May 2016. A new report suggests that fire safety issues may delay its opening further. Photograph:  Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Project turned to farce by political interference, chaotic planning and sloppy building

Berlin’s Holocaust memorial, pictured prior to its official opening in 2005. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/AP

Political activists place installation next door to home of Alternative für Deutschland politician

Angela Merkel  of the Christian Democratic Union talks to the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Martin Schulz. Photograph: Christian Bruna

SPD faces dilemma in seeking fresh elections if grand coalition as likely after poll as now

cting finance minister Peter Altmaier told the German parliament Ireland had fulfilled all conditions of its EU/IMF programme and was part of a rescue “success story” that included Spain and Portugal.

Social Democratic Party opposes move which will save exchequer estimated €150m

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