Merz promotes his program

You really can't accuse the CDU of not putting any effort into its new basic program.

The party held conventions, congresses and regional conferences.

For inspiration, the CDU leadership even met last year in Cadenabbia, Italy, where Konrad Adenauer liked to vacation.

And after the party presented its draft basic program to the public in December, the party leadership is now going on tour again.

She wants to collect feedback from the grassroots in six program conferences so that everyone can get involved.

The roadshow starts today in Mainz, followed by Hanover and Chemnitz.

Is all the effort justified?

The program, says my colleague Florian Gathmann, serves as self-assurance, but also as a substantive backdrop for the 2025 federal election. "And in a certain way it represents another farewell to the 16 years of Angela Merkel's government."

Restrictive migration policy, insistence on the debt brake, nuclear power – in its most important points, the draft program is fully tailored to the likely candidate for chancellor Friedrich Merz.

It should finally be decided at the party conference in May.

After that, some people in the Konrad Adenauer House probably need a vacation.

  • Protection of the Federal Constitutional Court: Does Friedrich Merz know what he wants? 

Debt brake is a bone of contention

The official program doesn't sound particularly spectacular at first: it will be about "cohesion and democracy" when the Greens meet in Leipzig for their parliamentary group meeting from today.

About work, climate and transformation.

But a motion that the Green MPs want to pass at their meeting is tough.

It is likely to cause new tensions in the traffic lights.

In the application, the Greens are calling for a “Germany investment fund”.

It is intended to provide funds for “investments in the future,” help the economy become CO₂-neutral and provide money for municipalities.

The tricky thing about it: The Greens are calling for a reform of the debt brake for the fund.

According to their idea, “investments that create new values” should be able to be financed through loans in the future.

The debt brake is a constant topic for the traffic lights.

At the beginning of February, Economics Minister Robert Habeck suggested a debt-financed special fund to stimulate the economy.

The FDP immediately rejected it.

Now the Greens are making a new attempt with their proposal.

The big clash is likely to happen at the latest when the traffic light negotiates the 2025 budget this year.

  • Debt brake reform called for: Greens want to support municipalities with more money

Angry farmers mobilize in Poland

These are weeks of anger for Europe's farmers.

Yesterday, protests against the EU agriculture ministers' meeting escalated in Brussels: burning tires, pyrotechnics, broken barricades, liquid manure on the streets.

Protests from farmers are expected today when Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits Baden-Württemberg.

And in Poland, farmers are mobilizing for a protest march through the capital Warsaw.

Polish farmers have been demonstrating for weeks.

From Sunday to Monday they blocked the highway to Germany near Frankfurt (Oder) for 24 hours.

The tractors were parked for miles.

While cuts in agricultural subsidies triggered farmers' protests in Germany, farmers in Poland are taking to the streets against EU regulations - and against the import of cheap agricultural products from Ukraine.

Polish farmers are convinced that imports of grain, for example, will lead to a fall in prices.

But is that really true?

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently explained that only a few percent of Ukrainian grain is exported via Poland and most of it doesn't stay in the country at all.

The Polish government must still find a way, together with the EU, to reassure the farmers.

However, the protests are unlikely to change Poland's support for Ukraine.

  • Unpunished vandalism: Ukraine accuses Poland of arbitrary destruction of grain shipments

Read the current SPIEGEL editorial here

  • The danger is real:

    Ampel and Union wanted to talk about how the Federal Constitutional Court could be better protected from enemies of democracy.

    Now the Union faction has ended the discussions on this.

    Withdrawal is negligent. 

Click here for the current daily quiz

The starting question today: When was it decided to introduce the debt brake in Germany?

Winner of the day…

... are the 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members of the cruise ship “Norwegian Dawn”.

They had been stuck on board since Sunday because of a suspected cholera outbreak off Mauritius.

14 passengers and one crew member suffered from diarrhea and vomiting.

But the laboratory tests did not confirm the suspicion of cholera.

After an increase in gastrointestinal illnesses, the authorities banned the ship from docking in the capital Port Louis on Mauritius.

The French island of La Réunion had also previously turned away the ship.

Then the all-clear came.

There must be great relief among the passengers who are allowed to leave the ship today.

But the situation in southern Africa remains devastating.

The region is being hit by one of the worst waves of cholera in years.

And the vaccine is in short supply.

The fact that the outbreak has now become the center of public attention, especially because it involved a cruise ship, is bitter.

  • Cholera in Zambia: When climate change makes you sick

The latest reports from the night

  • Biden expects a ceasefire from Monday:

    "We are close": US President Joe Biden is optimistic that Israel and Hamas will agree on a ceasefire by Sunday.

  • US soldier dies after self-immolation in front of the Israeli embassy:

    He poured liquid over himself and set himself on fire: A soldier has died after the shocking incident in front of the Israeli embassy in the US capital.

  • Volksbühne director René Pollesch is dead:

    The director of the Berliner Volksbühne, René Pollesch, is dead. He died on Monday morning at the age of 61, the theater at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz announced.

I would particularly like to recommend this story to you today:

Drought in paradise:

The biblical Garden of Eden is said to have been located between the Euphrates and Tigris.

But the idyll is deceptive.

The Mesopotamian marshlands, home to over 60 species of fish and around 160 species of birds, could soon dry out.

Powerful interests, disputes over water and corruption threaten them, as does the climate crisis.

Asadi, 66, is Iraq's best-known conservationist; he was born here.

He fights to save paradise - and risks his life to do so.

I wish you a good start to the day.

Yours, Maria Fiedler, deputy head of the SPIEGEL capital office