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Not everything works in Germany

In spite of its fiscal surplus, the schools and roads of the country suffer a huge decline due to the lack of public investment

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Not everything works in Germany

When Monday morning Matw George goes to yard of school is rubbish and glass left by young people who use court during weekend. And when director bends down to pick up a piece of glass, takes advantage of it to boot part of pavement that is on loose. The schoolyard Paul-Hindemith in Frankfurt, as rest of building, is made of dust. “We want our school to be beautiful. Only well children will learn to respect things”, says George, director. “This is like a house. If you do not keep it, in 30 years, is coming down”. Immediately afterwards he adds: “Well, recently yes we painted walls, thanks to private sponsors who included it in ir social work”.

The case of this school is not most scandalous, much less unique. In Germany y call it "school run" and all over country. Are result of decades of lack of investment in a country, which, however, accumulated a record surplus. The germans will elect on Sunday a new Government and state of schools –and especially school toilets– has become a symbol of deterioration of skeletal physique of a world power who does not know red numbers.

The “school run” across country are result of decades of lack of investment in a country that accumulated a record surplus

The school of Frankfurt, in prosperous State of Hesse, may appear to be complaints of rich and what y are. Because Germany is a rich country, with a fiscal surplus record 23.700 million euros (0.8% of GDP), which however has dragged ir feet at time of investing to improve its poor infrastructure. Invest, but little and late, according to experts. KfW, German development bank, estimates that cities and German towns require an investment in infrastructure of 126,000 million. A total of 33,000 million to schools and 34,000 more for roads.

“The bridges, trains, schools... y have become old and must replace m or reform m”, matches Achim Truger, senior economist, school of Economics and Law Berlin. “The Government believes schwarze Null [zero black, which refers to a budget building with no debt] more important than public investment. The aversion to debt is part integral of German political system. We have also inherited problems of austerity imposed upon Germany was sick man of Europe”, adds Truger, who explains in addition, that financial situation varies a lot between Federal State, Länder and municipalities, some of m heavily indebted. There are those who blame also to so-called brake-debt tax via constitutional amendment in 2009, which limits deficit of state and of Länder.

The two major parties to promise now in campaign more public investment in schools. The candidate social democrat, Martin Schulz, wants, obliging authorities to invest part of surplus on infrastructure and requests furr that central State has more to say on a subject as vital as quality of education and schools. In principle, it is competence of Länder, but Schulz wants to create a national alliance for education that would invest 12,000 million euros in schools throughout country and wants to furr a legal reform that will formalize cooperation between central State and Länder. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, who leads polls  it alleges however that problem is not so much lack of funds as lack of long-term planning as well as countless bottlenecks, bureaucratic.

The construction detours on highways are continuous, a car trip between Berlin and Frankfurt (547 kilometers) can be delayed more than seven hours

“In Germany, we have a general problem. Also here in Hesse, despite being a rich State,” explains Kai Eicker-Wolff, of trade union educational GEW. Wolff estimated that only in Frankfurt it would take an investment of 1,000 million euros due to abandonment in recent years. The situation in less prosperous is únmucho worse.

The roads are, along with schools, infrastructure that is most in need of investment. A car trip between Berlin and Frankfurt (547 kilometers) can be delayed more than seven hours without stops despite not having a speed limit in many sections. The construction detours and repairs on railcars are continuous. There are also works that have already become almost a bad joke for those affected. It is case of bridge of Leverkusen, closed since five years ago for heavy-duty vehicles after resquebrajara and become a jam permanent.

A traffic jam on A13 motorway in direction of Berlin at height of Mittenwalde due to repair works of motorway. Sean Gallup Getty Images

Anor case sounded is of tunnel in Rastatt, near French border, which suffered a collapse this summer and has caused interruption of railway traffic between two countries. The additional problem is that some of alternative routes are under construction or badly damaged, contributing to chaos of logistics in region. The delays and cancellations in passenger trains are frequent and often circulate so crowded that travellers are forced to sit huddled on floor.

traffic jams became precisely a central issue in last regional elections of north Rhine-Westphalia last may, in which people blamed social democrats (SPD) in power of doing nothing to improve deplorable state of infrastructures. The SPD lost its traditional stronghold and its candidate, Martin Schulz, has not returned to raise its head in polls since n.

Think twice before you go to bathroom Toilet in a poor state of school Paul-Hindemith. BC

“it Cannot be that bathrooms in schools does not work and has not money to repair m”, screamed recently Martin Schulz at a rally in Hamburg to a crowd that applauded and nodded with head. The school toilets have become in this campaign as a symbol of lack of public investment. The school public Paul-Hindemith use for 15 hours of hundreds of children. The 650 students of centre re is that adding m to guys that use in evenings sports facilities of centre. I don't lack top to have a broken chain or you do not have light. The director ensures that parents ' committee has complained to city Council, but so far without success.

The German organisation of bathrooms (GTO), an NGO that asks for better sanitation facilities in Africa, but that also has a program for schools in German, has recently published a survey of 800 students in 22 schools of Berlin. The results, which y warn are not scientific, indicate that 53% of students surveyed claim to go to service only in case of emergency. Just 24% say that going to bathroom always. The majority also considers that lso of ir school are dirty.

This article is part of 'The Germany that votes', a series of five articles that draw a portrait of political, economic and social of european power in days leading up to general election next September 24.

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