The party congress for Germany's Greens has opened in Berlin to debate the program for the federal elections in September. The party will debate thousands of amendments, namely controversial tax policy.
More than 800 Green Party delegates have gathered in Berlin for the beginning of their three-day congress where they will hash out the party's election manifesto for the September 22 federal election.
With more than 2,600 amendments set to be debated, the most controversial will be the party's stance on tax policy and labor market reforms.
The Greens' top chancellor candidates, Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Jürgen Trittin, opened the congress by calling for an end to Chancellor Angela Merkel's hold on power with the Christian Democrats (CDU).
Both candidates attacked the government and harshly rejected a coalition with the CDU or its Bavarian arm, the CSU.
"This drawn out black and yellow film has annoyed us long enough," said Trittin on Friday evoking the colors of Merkel's CDU and coalition partners the Free Democrats, respectively. "Let's get to the end."
"An end of the black and yellow comes only with a strong green," he added.
"We can also incidentally ensure that Angela Merkel has more time again in the forest," said Göring-Eckardt, alluding to the home of the chancellor in northeastern Germany.
Attacking Merkel on climate change
The Greens' foundation in environmentalism in mind, Trittin said, "the failure of Merkel on climate change is reason enough to opt out of her coalition."
“We will not rule with such corrupt friends such as Schmid," Trittin said, referring to the Bavarian CSU party leader Georg Schmid, who recently resigned due to accusations of nepotism. "We shall ensure they are voted out.”
Despite throwing their support behind a Social Democrat (SPD)-Greens coalition, which governed from 1998 to 2005, Göring-Eckardt said, "we will not fight this election in the shadow of the SPD."
With less than five months before the election, the SPD and the Greens have been limping in opinion polls.
Tax policy at the forefront
Sure to be one of the most debated topics at the congress is the party's stance on tax policy. The Greens want to raise the top rate of income tax to 49 percent from 42 percent, an idea backed by 52 percent of Germans, according to a Politbarometer poll for German broadcaster ZDF released Friday.
The left wing of the party also wants a 15 percent wealth tax on assets of more than 1 million euros ($1.3 million), which was supported by 72 percent of those surveyed.
The party congress will last until Sunday.
hc/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)