Chancellor Angela Merkel Is Accused Of A 'Power-Grab' In German Parliament

Critics of German Chancellor Angela Merkel have accused the 66-year-old leader of using the novel coronavirus pandemic as a way to increase her power in what The Spectator has dubbed a "power grab."

The accusations came after a draft of an updated Infection Protection Act was leaked to the media, sparking an intense outcry. The Infection Protection Act was passed earlier this year in the beginning stages of the COVID-19 crisis and gave the government vast executive authority to fight the disease. However, the new amendments would not only extend the period of these special rights but would also increase the health minister's powers.

For example, it would give both Merkel and her health minister Jens Spahn the ability to order companies that deal in public transportation — such as the airline, train, and bus industries — to deny passage to customers from at risk-areas. In addition, the companies would be required to give the government all of their data on passengers who may have been carriers of the coronavirus.

The Social Democrats, who had previously been strong allies of Merkel and are members of her coalition, managed to temporarily stop Spahn's plans.

"We want to specify the legislative basis (for this law) and restrict the leeway the government gets," Carsten Schneider, the Social Democrats' parliamentary whip, explained to the media.

The move comes after Merkel has taken a number of measures to stem COVID-19 throughout the country. The decision has many supporters and Germany boasts a relatively low infection rate of 404,000 people and around 10,000 fatalities.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands during the weekly government cabinet meeting.
Getty Images | Andreas Gora

However, others have been alarmed that Merkel has appeared to bypass the legal process to enact the measures — and many fear the legislative branch is losing power to an executive arm that keeps growing in strength.

"The current regulations proposed in the Infection Protection Act do not specifically target (the causes of) the pandemic. Considering how important these measures are, one should think about specifying the regulations included in the law," stated Joachim Wieland, a judge at the constitutional court in North Rhine-Westphalia.

As a result, courts have become more proactive in fighting against new federal laws. For example, a local court voided the curfew introduced by the Berlin state government; similarly, a legal mandate to wear masks is not always enforced because of questions surrounding its legality.

"At this point, Germany's federal government and its state governments... seem avid for power, buying into the narrative that only administrations can stop this crisis and not the institutions that would have to find a political consensus," The Spectator warned on the growing crisis.

Germany is not the only country facing such concerns. The United States has dealt with a similar situation when the courts declared several decrees made by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be illegal, per the Associated Press. As was reported by The Inquisitr, the governor has since been the target of a kidnapping plot.