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As her 16-year term ends with Germany’s general election on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel reaped the rewards of her predecessor’s Agenda 2010 economic reforms – overseeing years of solid growth and low unemployment. But critics denounce the widening of inequalities. FRANCE 24 reports from Berlin.

Before Merkel toppled him in the 2005 general election, her social democratic predecessor Gerhard Schroeder divided German public opinion with the economic reform programs of Agenda 2010, which cut both taxes and the welfare system. social.

International observers and the voices of the German right attribute to this political package the restoration of the country’s economic dynamism. Germany’s unemployment rate has halved to full employment since Merkel took office.

“We are at full capacity,” said Gabriele Kostner, CEO of Muller-Zeiner Industrieverpackungen, a small manufacturer of shipping supplies in Berlin.

“Our exports have developed well in recent years,” continued Kostner, a member of Merkel’s conservative CDU party. “Ms. Merkel is the number one politician in the world. And its good reputation has rubbed off on our products.

But low wages in sectors like healthcare and digital services have widened inequalities, with half of the population owning 99.5% of Germany’s wealth.

A fifth of workers have only temporary jobs, while 13 million Germans including three million children are classified as living in poverty.

“Our children are being left behind and the pandemic has really made it obvious,” said Bernd Siggelkow, founder of Arche, an NGO dedicated to fighting child poverty that helps some 7,000 children in 20 German cities. “They have financial but also educational problems. When parents don’t have a good education, they can’t help their children.

Click on the video player above to watch the entire FRANCE 24 report.

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