The end of Hartz IV, higher taxes for the rich, speed limits

The SPD has presented its party platform ahead of the Bundestag elections in September.

Olaf has a plan for the Roaring Twenties.
Olaf has a plan for the Roaring Twenties.Photo: dpa/Kay Nietfeld

Berlin- The centre-left Social Democrats or SPD have come out as the first party to unveil their official party platform in the run-up to the German elections on 26 September. Or in the words of their chancellor candidate, finance minister Olaf Scholz: "A plan for the 2020s."

Scholz presented the 50-page paper with SPD co-chairs Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans during a video conference on Monday afternoon. The main points can be summarised as: boosting the welfare state; fighting child poverty; taxing the rich more; more ambitious climate protection.

The Hartz IV welfare system - introduced 20 years ago by the SPD and often cited as a reason for the party's decline - is to be abolished and replaced by a more lenient system. The SPD also wants to raise the hourly minimum wage to at least €12.

The rich are being asked to contribute more: "The top 5 per cent will be called upon to play a greater part in financing important public tasks", according to the document. An income tax surcharge of 3 per cent is to apply to married people with taxable annual income of more than €500,000 and to singles with income surpassing €250,000.

"We want to reinstate the wealth tax to improve the financial strength of the Länder for important future tasks," the programme states. A tax rate of 1 per cent is to be introduced on "very valuable assets", it says. "At the same time, there will be high personal allowances so that the tax burden is concentrated on particularly wealthy sections of the population."

Most businesses would be spared from the wealth tax. "We will make sure that no jobs are endangered by the wealth tax," Walter-Borjans said.

Climate protection and speed limit

Climate also tops the SPD agenda, which calls for a faster transition to a climate-neutral economy.

"We will make Europe the first sustainable and greenhouse gas neutral continent by 2050 at the latest and take a pioneering role in combating climate change," the platform states. Germany is to achieve its climate goals through massive expansion of solar energy.

What's more, the SPD hopes to impose a 130kph speed limit on the autobahn.

The SPD also wants to completely restructure the child benefit system. Parents would receive a base rate of €250 per kid. That could incresase to €528, depending on family income and the children's age. The tax-free child allowance, which mainly benefits high earners, is to be scrapped.

All in all, for a party currently polling at 16 per cent, it's a pretty ambitious roadmap.

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