Parliamentary elections in Germany: The parties and their programmes

Written by on September 21, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on Parliamentary elections in Germany: The parties and their programmes

There are three days left. This Sunday, 61.5 million Germans will be eligible to cast their vote in parliamentary elections. A bit more than half of them, 31.7 million, are women, 29.8 million are men. Hundreds of thousands have already handed in their vote by mail. There is no online-voting, and there are no voting machines.

Voters will be able to choose between as many as 42 parties, some of which are quite exotic, to say the least. There is a “Marxist Leninist Party of Germany”, a “Party of Bible-Abiding Christians” and a “V-Party” for “change, vegetarians and vegans”.

But only seven parties will get enough votes to make it into the Bundestag:

CDU – Christian-Democratic Union:

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party was more conservative before she took over and moved it into the center. But things do look different in Bavaria, where there is no CDU, but rather its far more conservative sister party CSU (Christian-Social Union). In the joint CDU/CSU programme, it says this: “We want the number of refugees, who come into our country, to be permanently low.”

The “Union” parties are promising 15,000 additional police officers, since security is a big subject, this time around. They want more video surveillance too. And they intend to slash joblessness in half by the year 2025.

SPD – Social Democratic Party:

Martin Schulz and his Social Democrats want to give the jobless the right to further education, and they insist on “more justice”. The latter they want to create by getting rid of exceptions regarding the minimum wage and by overcoming the income differences between men and women, as well as between Eastern and Western Germans.

As opposed to the “Union” parties, they want a huge pension reform, and a tax relief for employees who earn up to 1300 Euro per month.

The Greens:

They want to make sure only emissions-free cars can be sold from 2030, and insist on shutting down the 20 dirtiest coal power stations immediately. Their favourite subject, getting rid of nuclear energy altogether, is gone, since Germany will do exactly that by 2022.

Also, the Greens reject any limit regarding the acceptance of refugees and they want to stop deportations back to Afghanistan.

FDP – The Liberals:

They want to increase defense spending, without saying by how much. Regarding the energy policy, they reject solo action, without the E.U. partners.

What the Liberals reject most of all is a tax hike for the rich. Neither do they want the introduction of a general speed limit on motorways.

Die Linke – The Left:

This party rejects any military missions abroad, as well as any increase on defense spending. And they want to get rid of all intelligence agencies.

A minimum support of 1050 Euro for the jobless is one of their central demands. So is an increase of the minimum wage to 12 Euro per hour.

AfD – Alternative for Germany: (see separate article “The return of the Ugly German”)

They basically want to close the borders for refugees and get rid of “special rights for Muslim students at schools”.

The age of criminal responsibility should be decreased to 12, they believe. Also they say Germans should be proud of German soldier’s “achievements” during the two World Wars.

All other parties will most likely fail to jump the 5 percent hurdle.

The polls say Angela Merkel’s “Union” will celebrate yet another sky-high victory, with some 36 percent of all votes (including the CSU votes from Bavaria), the SPD will come in second with around 23 percent, while all smaller parties will be ending up in the 8 to 10 percent range.

If the pollsters are right this time, another edition of Merkel’s Grand Coalition is the most likely outcome. Also, a so-called Jamaica Coalition is being discussed, meaning a government made out of the “Union”, the Liberals and the Greens. But most observers believe the latter is unlikely.

Conservatives are hoping for a new edition of a coalition model Germany has had before: A “Black-Yellow Coalition” made up of the “Union” and the Liberals. But the mathematics will probably not be in favour of this kind of government.

Not only in Berlin, politicians of several parties, and their voters, are getting nervous, three days ahead of the election. Some are fearing the pollsters might be wrong and the SPD might have a catastrophic result. Others even believe the radical far-right AfD might become as strong as the Social Democrats.

When the polling stations close on Sunday, a suspenseful evening in Germany is a foregone conclusion.

Related articles: 

Parliamentary elections in Germany: Mama against mama’s little helper

“The return of the Ugly German”

Photos: Election posters by the CDU (top photo) and the SPD

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com