April 18 Leaders of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) on Saturday agreed their campaign platform for September's election, when current foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will challenge the conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel.
The two parties have shared power in an awkward coalition since 2005's election. Following are key elements of the SPD's election programme:
- The SPD sees no room for comprehensive tax cuts but aims to relieve the burden on lower earners and families. It wants to cut the lowest income tax rate to 10 percent from 14 percent.
- A headline winner is the plan to allow Germans to receive 300 euros in return for not claiming rebates -- a move, the SPD says, to cut bureaucracy.
- The SPD says it would raise the highest tax rate to 47 percent from 45 percent to boost spending on education. The threshold for the top rate would be lowered to include incomes of above 125,000 euros ($163,900), rather than 250,000 euros.
- To limit short-term speculation, a tax would be levied on stock market trading, with stock trades of 1,000 euros or more to be taxed at a rate of 0.5 percent or 1.5 percent.
JOBS, WAGES, INDUSTRY
- The SPD wants binding minimum wages for as many sectors as possible, and preferably a general minimum wage.
- The SPD would try to retain Germany's industrial base and sees the biggest opportunities in green technology.
- The partial privatisation of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn would be ruled out until the next election. The much-disputed initial private offering planned for last year was put on hold due to the slide in global markets.
CLIMATE CHANGE, ENERGY
- The SPD wants to have 500,000 more people working to protect the climate by 2020.
- The SPD wants Germany to cut its dependence on oil imports, and get half of its power from renewable sources by 2030. It would keep its policy of phasing out nuclear energy.
- The SPD ruled out a coalition with the Left party, a grouping of former Communists and disillusioned SPD members that has recently become a political force, draining support from the SPD. (Compiled by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Kevin Liffey)