In Germany, the parties' election programs are read, taken into account and judged harshly by the citizens and the media. In fact, they are largely binding, in the event that the party eventually joins the government. In their training, the parties are obviously seeking to separate themselves from their opponents, but at the same time to turn a blind eye to their potential post-election partners.
In this year's elections, the departure of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the descent of the Christian Union (CDU / CSU) with a new candidate, the pandemic and its consequences, the climate crisis and the clear challenges of the future, the role he wants to play Germany in international developments, compose a picture very different from that of previous matches. In addition, huge differences in approach are identified in a few issues, at least by the three major parties. With these data, the examination of the proposals submitted in view of Sunday's elections acquires new interest.
The Christian Union (CDU / CSU), under the title "Program for Stability and Renewal", presents its proposals for "doing the best". It is obvious that Angela Merkel's party, after 16 years in the Chancellery, is neither easy to either reject its past or promise to change everything. So the central message is that "under Angela Merkel, Germany did well, but it can do even better."
CHRISTIAN UNION (CDU / CSU)
A key issue on the center-right agenda is also the Environment, Climate and Transport and the effort to combine anti-climate change policies with the lowest possible cost to the economy. With "effective market tools", the CDU / CSU aspires to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Indicatively, they suggest that the plane remain an economically competitive means of transportation, but use future synthetic fuels. They oppose the general imposition of a speed limit on German motorways, to a large extent of which there is currently no limit, while rejecting the universal ban on diesel engines.
On the big issue of Immigration, which cost the CDU significantly in 2015 under Merkel's management of the refugee crisis, the Christian Union seeks to balance respect for the right to asylum and stricter restrictions. In this context, it intends to increase the list of "safe countries of origin" and impose new restrictions on who is entitled to asylum and who should be deported if their asylum application is rejected. In particular, the need to deport immigrants who have committed crimes in Germany is emphasized.
Social and housing policy remains a serious problem in the country and not a particularly privileged field for the Christian Union. Although Angela Merkel has adopted a number of social democratic policies during her tenure, the Christian Democrats and the Christian Socialists have traditionally been in favor of limiting benefits. "Bonuses are not a salary," says Armin Lasset, responding to SPD proposals to increase them. On the issue of pensions, there was even a disagreement between the two sister parties, with the CSU demanding greater benefits for women who gave birth before 1992. In terms of housing, the CDU and CSU want to promote the construction of more than 1,5 , 2025 million new homes by XNUMX, through tax breaks and bureaucracy. In their program they characterize the adequacy of space for housing as the best protection from high rents.
Taxes, according to the Union program, should be reduced, first through the abolition of the solidarity tax, which was imposed in 1991 in order to cover the costs of German reunification. Its abolition is expected, at least according to critics, to benefit mainly high incomes. In addition, the CDU / CSU intend to reduce the tax on small and medium-sized incomes, as well as corporate income tax, from 15% to 10%.
In Foreign Policy, the Christian Union aspires to see Germany as a powerful player in the global environment. In this spirit, it is in favor of increasing the Armed Forces' participation in international missions and wants to focus on the joint effort to fight organized crime and terrorism. China and its growing international influence are described in the program as a "challenge" and Russia as a "potential military threat".
SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SPD)
"For you. Out of respect for your future ", is the title of the SPD program, which, seeing the end of its cooperation with the Christian Union, throws its own" bridges "further left and greener.
On the issue of Climate and Transport, the SPD makes it clear that it wants to drastically reduce car exhaust emissions. It seeks to introduce a top speed of 130km / h for motorways and traffic of at least 15 million electric cars by the end of the decade, and wants to make rail travel more attractive than air travel inland Europe.
In Immigration, the SPD does not want to impose additional restrictions, but in order to promote the integration of immigrants it wants to allow more family members to be granted asylum in order to be reunited in Germany.
In Social Affairs and Housing, the SPD is in favor of introducing a fixed minimum pension, a policy that would require the participation of the state and at the same time rejects the increase in the age limit, which stands at 67 years.
In order to increase the supply of housing, the Social Democrats will seek to build 100.000 social housing units per year and impose a "rent brake", which will link the amount of rent with inflation. They also suggest the creation of a non-profit authority that will develop a non-profit share in the housing market.
In Taxation, the SPD wants the minimum wage to rise to 12 euros / hour, to introduce a 1% wealth tax "on very large wealth" and to cut the tax on low and middle incomes. To balance this policy, they are asking for an increase in income tax to 45% for incomes over 90.000 euros and 48% for incomes over 250.000 euros.
In Foreign and Security Policy, the SPD includes the term "external security" and even the fight against climate change, and proposes that one third of Germany 's development aid, or about 0,2% of GDP, be available only in the poorest developing countries. The Social Democrats are in favor of the European Army and express their commitment to NATO. As for Russia, however, it has taken a softer stance than the CDU, saying that "in Europe there can be peace only with Russia - not against it." But even in its relationship with China, the SPD criticizes human rights abuses, but focuses more on the need for cooperation, especially in areas such as Climate Change.
The choice is "between the rupture and the 'keep it up'", say the Greens, who see their dream of joining a center-left government or a "climate government" as they call it coming to life. That's why their entire program runs through proposals that directly or indirectly affect the environment, with billions being invested in schools, railways, bike lanes, universities, high-speed internet, wind turbines and vehicle charging stations. They intend to finance all this with new borrowing, arguing that debt is in the long run less of a burden on damaged infrastructure. In their program they are still trying to overturn the old impression that their party wanted not to have carefully crafted proposals on issues other than those of the environment.
In Climate and Transport, the Greens do not just want cars without exhaust gas, but they want from 2030 to run only such on German roads and at the same time increase the CO2 tax to 60 euros per ton in 2023, while strengthening low incomes. They also want to set up a high-speed train network, with the aim of making flights within Europe unprofitable and unnecessary.
In Immigration, the Greens directly state that Germany is an immigration country, but it does not have immigration legislation that will facilitate immigration and make the integration process easier. In this context, they want to give the refugees a secure right of residence for five years and prevent deportations to Syria and Afghanistan.
In Social Policy, the Greens propose that pensions reach at least 48% of an employee's salary. Any disputes should be covered by the state, while civil servants should also contribute. The Greens are still in favor of a guaranteed minimum income and basic child safety, but also in favor of raising the minimum wage.
In Taxation, the Greens program suggests alleviating the burden of low and middle incomes, increasing tax exemptions and at the same time burdening high incomes, more or less in line with the SPD. Specifically, they want taxation at 45% from 42% of incomes over 100.000 euros and 48% for incomes over 250.000 euros.
In Foreign and Security Policy, the Green Party focuses on the removal of nuclear weapons from German territory, but supports Germany's participation in NATO, despite criticizing the obligation to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP. The Greens want even harsher criticism of China and Russia for human rights abuses and a quota for 50% women to take part in the negotiations.
The Liberals, who opinion polls suggest could be the regulator of the next governing coalition, remain in favor of a market economy, addressing, as always, higher education and economic voters.
With regard to Climate and Mobility, the FDP rejects the introduction of a speed limit on highways, wants more competition on the railways and more privatization. It wants even more liberalization of the taxi market, the abolition of aviation tax and the strengthening of air traffic. Their climate change strategy focuses mainly on adopting new technology and investing in research and innovation that will provide solutions in the future.
On the issue of Immigration, the FDP wants skilled workers who have been offered a job in Germany to be able to easily obtain the required leave and are in favor of implementing the Canadian point system. Especially for refugees from war zones, the FDP considers that they should be granted temporary asylum quickly and with minimal bureaucracy, but return home accordingly when circumstances allow.
In Taxation, the FDP wants, like the Christian Union, the abolition of the solidarity tax, but also the tax on sparkling wine and rejects the additional wealth taxation and wants to reduce the taxation of employees below 40%. It also opposes any rental arrangement. FDP leader Christian Lindner himself has repeatedly said that rejecting the tax increase is a prerequisite for the party's participation in any government.
In Social Policy, the Liberals want to introduce a Swedish-based pension system and impose a more generous supplemental income policy for those living on benefits.
In Foreign and Security Policy, the Liberals demand that 3% of GDP be invested in international security, including development aid and diplomacy. They criticize China and Russia and call for negotiations on secure transatlantic data flow. They also want the cancellation of development aid if a country violates the rights of the LGBTQI community.
LEFT (DIE LINKE)
The Left Party, true to its principles, focuses its program on supporting the most vulnerable groups in society, but expresses caution, as for the first time in its history it sees the possibility of joining a government with the SPD and the Greens.
In terms of Climate and Transport, the Left proposes the imposition of a speed limit of 120 km / h and the complete nationalization of Lufthansa and the German Railways, as well as a ban on flights for distances of less than 500 km. In this context, regional airports should be closed by 2038. Coal mines should be closed in the same year. The miners who will lose their jobs will have to find jobs on cannabis plantations, while the employees in the air services will be able to be hired on the Railway, which in the meantime will be expanded.
For Immigration, the Left rejects the deportations, wants the dissolution of FRONTEX and asks to be granted asylum for reasons of poverty or harsh environment. He also wants everyone living in Germany for a long time to have the right to vote and to stand for election, but also to participate in a quota of immigrants in the public administration.
In Social Policy, the Left wants to increase the minimum wage to 13 euros / hour and reduce the pension threshold. He also wants a "minimum solidarity pension" of 1200 euros to be imposed, which will be financed with a similar tax. The Left Party is also proposing the creation of a state housing program worth 15 billion euros per year, for the construction of 250.000 social housing and 130.000 houses that will belong to municipalities and communities. It also suggests a "rent limit" throughout the country and strengthening the rights of tenants.
In terms of Taxes, the Left wants a relief of incomes below 6500 (gross) month and wants this cut to be balanced by the stricter taxation of millionaires. It is also suggested to increase the tax-free amount to 14.000 euros and a maximum rate of 53% for incomes over 70.000 euros. In addition, taxation at 5% of assets worth over one million. In fact, in order to cover the economic consequences of the pandemic, it wants to impose a wealth tax of 10-30% on assets worth more than 2 million euros.
In Foreign Policy, the Left wants the dissolution of NATO, a position that is also an important thorn in the side of possible cooperation with the SPD. He also wants the withdrawal of German forces from missions abroad and the cessation of arms exports. Unlike the other parties, it wants closer cooperation with Russia and China, another problematic point for future cooperation.
ALTERNATIVE TO GERMANY (AfD)
The German far-right program is entitled "Germany - but normal" and continues to focus on immigration. Its program, however, is judged differently, as all other parties categorically reject cooperation with them.
AfD is not particularly concerned with Climate and Transport, as it believes that climate change is not the result of human behavior, but of natural evolution. In this spirit, he encourages individual travel by car, opposes the ban on diesel engines and wants the abolition of the tax on airplanes. It also wants the abolition of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Immigration remains a tipping point for the AfD, which has sustained its survival in xenophobic policies. In its program, it is in favor of drastically reducing immigrants, while rejecting the policy of family reunification.
The Alternative Social Policy for Germany focuses on stabilizing the pension system with additional funds to be saved by reducing spending on immigration, climate and European Union issues. The program points out that the rental and construction market must be deregulated and the construction and real estate market must be supported. As for the lack of housing, it is due to migrants, AfD points out.
In Foreign and Security Policy, the AfD accepts "for the time being" international organizations such as NATO or the OSCE, but considers them a "threat to the self-determination of the people." It wants to limit the scope of NATO to the territories of its member states and replace the European Union with another body.
Relations with Turkey
Berlin's relationship with Ankara has been a major concern in recent government, as it has gone through one of the most serious crises in its history. So he could not be absent from the pre-election programs of the parties.
The Christian Union (CDU / CSU) considers Turkey "of great strategic and economic importance to Germany and the EU" and advocates an "open, critical and constructive dialogue" with Ankara, but also in favor of strengthening Civil Society. in Turkey. Regarding the attitude of the Turkish leadership, the Union notes that it is "moving away from the EU criteria for democracy, the rule of law and human rights" and reiterates that the CDU and CSU reject and support Turkey's full accession to the EU instead. a close partnership. As a step towards rapprochement, they propose the definition of common interests and binding agreements. Specifically for NATO, the CDU / CSU note that it is a community of values and that its members are committed to upholding principles such as respect for human rights and the rule of law. "Turkey must fulfill its obligation to contribute to collective security and political negotiations on security issues," the program said.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) is watching "with concern the progress of the Turkish leadership in domestic and foreign policy". Turkey "must respect the principles of the rule of law, democracy and human rights," the SPD said in its program.
The Greens, however, believe that the EU and Turkey have much more in common than what separates them, socially, culturally and economically. "We stand with those in Turkey who are fighting for democracy, the rule of law, equality and human rights," they said in their program, calling for the immediate release of those detained for political reasons and for dialogue with the Kurds. "We strongly reject the Turkish government's aggressive foreign policy and demand a return to a multilateral foreign and security policy," the Greens said, calling for an end to the EU-Turkey refugee agreement and the implementation of the Geneva Convention on the refugees. "Turkey is not a safe third country", they emphasize and demand a new agreement, which will be in line with international law and the rule of law, offering Turkey the means to take care of refugees and not turn them into a tool. "People in Germany are neither allowed to be instrumentalized nor threatened by the Turkish government and its supporters," the Greens said, noting the need to strengthen Turkish civil society.
The Liberals (FDP), for their part, recognize the special role of German-EU relations with Turkey, but call for an end to accession negotiations and the pursuit of a new relationship with Ankara, mainly on an economic basis. "An authoritarian Turkey under President Erdogan cannot be a candidate for EU membership," the FDP said, referring to the imprisonment of Turkish and German journalists and activists. "Turkey, as a member of NATO and as a close ally of the EU, remains an irreplaceable partner and that is why we must work to de-escalate tensions. There will be Turkey after President Erdogan. "Already today we must build the economic, scientific relations and the relations with the Civil Society as a basis for then", say the Liberals.
The Left (Die Linke) opposes Turkey's accession to the EU over violations of the principles of democracy and the rule of law by the Ankara government and calls on Turkey to release dissidents and members of the Turkish HDP. It also calls for an end to arms exports from across the EU to Turkey, but also for an end to NATO support for Turkey, which violates international law.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) describes relations with Turkey as "difficult" and believes they should be reviewed. "Turkey does not belong to Europe culturally," she said in her program, stressing that its growing Islamization was a cause for concern and showed that Turkey had moved far away from Europe and the Western value community. "AfD rejects Turkey's accession to the EU and demands an immediate end to accession negotiations," the Alternative for Germany program said.