Autobahn Speed Limit? Chancellor Merkel Says NEIN!

Illustration for article titled Autobahn Speed Limit? Chancellor Merkel Says NEIN!

After Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party and the conservative Christian Democratic Union backed a plan to impose a carbon-emissions-slashing 80MPH speed limit on the nation's famed no-limit freeways, Chancellor Angela Merkel told her own party to piss off: "It won't happen with me." [International Herald Tribune]


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Mrs. Merkel's own party (the CDU) did not and does not support the plan to introduce a blanket speed limit of 130kph (~80mph). The chancellor did not tell her own party to p.o., she is just not looking to change the status quo. Over 2/3 of Germans agree with her.

Rather, the speed limit was a policy decision taken - by the narrowest of margins, 225 votes to 223 and against the express recommendation of the leadership - by coalition partner SPD at its most recent annual conference. It was one of a number of decisions that have shifted the party well left of center again, in preparation for the next general election. None of them have any immediate bearing on government policy.

The idea behind the SPD's vote is twofold: one, it always warms the hearts of envious social democrats to restrict the liberties that come with economic success greater than their own. Two, luxury cars supposedly only feature large, powerful, gas-guzzling engines so they can zoom along at 250kph. Never mind that US cars have long had even greater horsepower levels, in spite of speed limits that are low by European standards. Social democrats apparently have difficulty with the concept of acceleration performance.

Btw, a significant fraction of Germany's autobahn is anyhow already subject to a local speed limit. Otherwise a speed limit of 130kph is recommended, yet the myth of a general free-for-all on the autobahn is still very much alive.