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Politicians abandon election fight for holidays

Germany's general election may be looming, but it hasn't stopped the country's politicians heading off on their summer breaks in the middle of a campaign.

Politicians abandon election fight for holidays
Photo: DPA. Angela Merkel on holiday in Italy in 2012.

With six weeks to go before polling day, lots of top politicians have gone on holiday, leaving the election trail cold, The Local found after ringing around offices from political parties.

Enjoying a week off so close to polling day would be unthinkable for politicians in the US or UK, but for the Germans it is a normal part of the summer routine – election or no election.

Yet it seems accepted here and Malte Lehming, a journalist at Berlin daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and contributor to The Local, said politicians were right to go away and recuperate even in the midst of an election battle.

He said: “They have a demanding job, especially the chancellor. Hopefully, the more recuperated they are, the better they will work. Workaholics in an election campaign? No thanks.”

To politicians in other countries, the idea of sitting on a beach during an election stands in stark contrast to the run-ups to their polling days.

Norman Lamb an MP for the British Liberal Democrats and a health minister in the government told The Local that six weeks prior to election day was a hectic time in the campaigns he had fought. “It is a frantic period,” he said. “Normally we would be doing our day jobs as a constituency MP and ministerial duties. We would be at the heart of the campaign. The build-up starts months before.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently on holiday in Italy, but one politician who has stayed at home, unable to waste a day of campaigning, is the main opposition leader Peer Steinbrück.

His party, the Social Democrats (SPD), sits at 23 percent in the latest polls – 17 points behind Merkel’s CDU/CSU – prompting a non-stop tour of the country which started in Hamburg on Thursday night.

He launched the tour by attacking Merkel. “I’m appealing to everyone who still has plans for this country,” he told a crowd of 2,500 supporters.

Tom Bristow

What do you think? Should politicians take holidays during an election campaign? Leave your comments below.

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TRAVEL NEWS

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Plans for a new rail service running from Oslo and stopping in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen before arriving in Hamburg are in the works, Swedish state-owned rail operator SJ has said.

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Sweden’s state-owned SJ, along with Denmark’s DSB and DB of Germany, plans to offer a new international train line which runs between the Norwegian capital Oslo and Hamburg in northern Germany. 

The planned route would run daily, departing from Oslo at 8am before making stops in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen and arriving in Hamburg at 7pm. A service departing Hamburg and terminating in Gothenburg is also planned.

The 11 hour service would be quicker than the equivalent journey using either a car and ferry connection or existing train services. 

The planned service will enter into operation in 2027. Petter Essén, head of SJ’s vehicle and traffic programme, said the route made sense as it would connect a long stretch which doesn’t have continuous train traffic. 

“Today, there is a great deal of flying between Copenhagen and Oslo and between Oslo and Gothenburg, routes that would be fine by train,” Essén told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter

Currently, the only direct trains from the Norwegian capital to other countries are services to Gothenburg and Stockholm. 

The European Commission has selected the potential line as one of ten pilot projects that will receive support. This does not mean it will receive direct funding from the EU, but it will get backing on regulations and logistics, Essén explained.

“You can get help with various regulations and the process of getting all vehicles approved in all countries,” he said.

Generally, many Swedish and Norwegian trains can only operate within Sweden and Norway, while the majority of Danish and German trains are not cleared to run in Sweden in Norway. 

The Snälltåget line between Stockholm and Berlin has also been selected to receive support from the European Commission. 

SJ also announced plans to increase the number of trains between Gothenburg and Malmö to ten per day and offer the Gothenburg-Copenhagen service all year round. It said that these plans could come to fruition by 2026 or 2027. 

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