New German government to legalize marijuana use, phase out coal-burning power plants

Germany’s incoming government unveiled a cabinet lineup on Wednesday that includes plans to legalize cannabis use for recreational use and phase out coal-burning power plants.

The chancellor designate, conservative Christian Wulff, called the plans part of the party’s re-election manifesto, which he and other members of his party outlined in a document released by the party before formal selection by a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

However, the paper revealed few concrete details. “Neither the finances nor energy are no-go topics in this program,” it said.

Wulff is one of 12 interior ministers to be named in a coalition between Wulff’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

Germany’s election will give formal power to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Free Democrat coalition partner. The result ensured neither party won an overall majority, meaning Merkel will have to form a “grand coalition” government with the FDP.

The coalition will seek to push through policy aims like freeing up airspace for commercial airlines, encouraging the use of natural gas for households, rail and other transportation, and introducing corporate taxes that are imposed on profits, rather than balance sheets.

However, some of the other changes in the CDU-FDP coalition, like moving to legalize cannabis, are highly controversial.

The far-left Linke Party, led by fiery firebrand Tarja Halonen, defeated Wulff’s center-left Social Democrats in Sunday’s elections. It is expected to have 21 seats in the Bundestag, up from 15 now.

Though the two parties will join forces, Merkel is expected to head a grand coalition, even though the center-left party, which was in opposition after their last election defeat, has indicated its hostility to Wulff.

Wulff is expected to be voted in on Thursday. If he is approved, his Social Democratic counterpart in the new cabinet, Gerhard Schroeder, will be senior parliamentary leader.

Schroeder, an environmentalist, oversaw Germany’s transition from nuclear to renewable energy, which reduced air pollution. But in 2003 he also introduced a nuclear power phase-out — an action the Social Democrats have criticized as flawed.

According to a first estimate by experts, the three coal plants would close by 2022, the German news agency DPA reported.

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