Berlin, Germany: Germany’s conservatives called for “stability and renewal” on Monday as they launched their manifesto for September’s election, the first in 16 years without Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The 139-page document, unveiled by conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, promises no tax hikes, pragmatic action on climate change, and a tough stance against Russia and China.
Laschet’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the smaller Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) have enjoyed a popularity boost in recent weeks and are currently polling ahead of the second-place Green party.
The manifesto will serve as the basis for negotiations to forge a possible coalition after the election.
China and Russia
Merkel has been ramping up business ties with China for some years and was at the forefront of negotiating an investment deal between Beijing and the EU at the end of 2020.
But Germany’s tone on China is changing, with the investment deal since shelved and the manifesto describing the country as “the greatest foreign and security policy challenge of our time”.
The document refers to Beijing as a “partner, competitor and rival”, calling for Germany and Europe to “counter China’s desire for power in close cooperation” with the US.
One of the priorities for conservative chancellor candidate Armin Laschet and his team will be to focus on preserving “intellectual property”, it says.
There are also harsh words for Russia, which is accused of “resorting to open threats against NATO allies, cyber attacks, disinformation and propaganda”.
Russia “challenges our values” and has violated international law by annexing Crimea, the manifesto says.
No tax hikes
“After the pandemic, tax increases are not the right way forward,” the manifesto states, claiming such measures would “hinder the necessary recovery of our economy”.
The conservatives are therefore opposed to any new taxes on wealth or an increase in inheritance tax, despite an unprecedented level of debt.
In the long term, the alliance plans to “cap the tax burden on profits that remain in the company at 25 per cent”.
Any increase in the retirement age from 67 is also ruled out.
Germany has more than seven million workers in “mini-jobs”, part-time work paying up to 450 euros a month with no social security contributions.
The conservatives want to raise the amount that can be earned in a mini-job to 550 euros, in a bid to encourage more employers to offer them.
Jobs under the scheme created by the Social Democrats in 2002 have been hit especially hard by coronavirus restrictions.
In order to achieve Germany’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, the alliance promises to develop electric vehicles, green hydrogen and synthetic fuels in road transport.
But earlier plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2035 have been dropped, as has the idea of a speed limit on German motorways.
Instead, the bloc intends to rely on so-called emissions trading as a central pillar of its climate strategy.
“We want to strengthen European emissions trading in aviation and establish it as quickly as possible in other sectors such as mobility and heating as well as shipping,” the manifesto says.
The alliance is also planning a reduction in surcharges paid by consumers to help fund green energy, as well as “targeted relief in the areas of housing and mobility”.
In agriculture, the conservatives promise to “stand by our farmers” who they say “deserve more appreciation”.
“We want to free (agriculture) from the hamster wheel of permanent efficiency increases under industrial conditions,” they say.
They also call for carbon-neutral farms and stables, as well as a review of EU legislation on the protection of wolves, which some farmers warn are a growing threat to livestock in Germany.