Berlin - More redistribution and a human-rights-focused foreign policy - Germany's environmentalist Green Party or Die Grünen have agreed on an election platform with a strong ecological and social focus that probably won't scare away too many middle-class voters. Demands for more radical changes from some party members were almost all rejected at a three-day online party conference that ended on Sunday afternoon.
The title of the document itself - "Germany. It's all in there." - met with resistance within the party ranks. Some opponents of the wording had argued that the word "Germany" suggested a "a nationalist policy". Another group declared, "At the centre of our politics are human beings in their dignity and freedom. And not Germany."
LABOUR AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS: Welfare, minimum wage, pensions.
In a first step, the Greens want to raise the standard Hartz IV welfare payment by at least €50. In the medium term, Hartz IV should be "overcome" and replaced by a guaranteed income, which would be granted without "bureaucratic sanctions". The Greens also want to raise the hourly minimum wage to €12. A motion supporting €13 was rejected, as was the goal of a 30-hour work week. The current minimum wage in Germany is €9.50 and goes up to €9.60 in July. According to current legislation, the minimum wage is set to reach €10.45 by 1 July 2022.
The Green platform also states: "Securing the pension level at at least 48 per cent in the long term is a high priority for us."
ECONOMY AND FINANCE: Top tax rate, debt brake
The party wants to bump the top tax rate from the current 42 per cent to 48 per cent. A motion for a significantly higher top tax rate of 53 per cent failed at the party conference. So did a proposal to remove the "debt brake", an amendment to the German constitution that limits the amount of new debt that the federal government can take on, namely a maximum of 0.35 per cent of economic output. The Greens want more leeway to borrow money for state investment.
Meanwhile, the Greens are opposed to tax cuts: "In view of the corona crisis, the public budget situation will be very tight in the coming years."
FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENCE: China, Russia, migration
Annalena Baerbock, the Greens' candidate for chancellor, emphasised that human rights should carry more weight in foreign policy than economic interests. The party is opposed to the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline - currently under construction and supported by the current CDU/CSU-SPD coalition - because it goes against Germany's climate protection targets. When it comes to dealing with authoritarian regimes, the Greens advocate a dual approach of "dialogue and toughness" and demand an end to China's "blatant human rights violations". They want more international cooperation on climate policy.
In sharp tones, the programme said Russia had "increasingly become an authoritarian state and is more and more aggressively undermining democracy and stability in the EU and in the region".
Turning to military matters, the Greens are not fundamentally opposed to the acquisition of armed drones for the German army or Bundeswehr. However, in their view, before such a decision can be made, "it must first be made clear for which deployment scenarios the Bundeswehr should actually use armed drones".
The admission of refugees to Germany was not a major topic at the party conference. The party favours enabling legal access routes for refugees at the EU's external borders. The Greens also want to create new opportunities for educational and work migration.
The conference saw lively debate on the question of whether people should be easily allowed to officially change their gender. The Greens are campaigning for the repeal of the Transsexuals Act, which requires people who wish to officially change their gender to one other than their biological sex must have been living accordingly for at least three years.
DOMESTIC SECURITY: Police, gun control
Despite rightwing extremist chats and other recent scandals among the police, the Green platform expresses support for law enforcement: "Germany is a safe country. This is also due to a well functioning police force." The Greens want to phase out the availability of lethal firearms. Hunters would be exempt. When it comes to shooting sports, the Greens want to engage in dialogue with sport shooters "about the conversion to non-lethal firearms".
Criticisms from the other parties
"What the Greens have decided today in their election manifesto on migration is a dangerous aberration," commented Mathias Middelberg (CDU), spokesperson on domestic policy for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. The "active immigration policy" of the Greens would trigger new "uncontrollable immigration to Germany".
SPD parliamentary group vice-chairman Achim Post said: "The superficial social veneer that the Greens now want to give themselves shortly before the election will hardly suffice to stabilise and expand our welfare state even after the Bundestag elections."
FDP leader Christian Lindner told the Rheinische Post that Annalena Baerbock must "come clear on the question of whether she would allow herself to be elected to the chancellorship with the support of [leftwing party] Die Linke".
The Greens expressed no preference for a coalition statement at the conference, even though the SPD is considered the preferred partner.
"If you take the points of our party platform seriously, then in my opinion you can't form a coalition with the CDU/CSU," the national spokesperson of the Green Party's youth wing, Anna Peters, told the TV channel Phoenix.