The man seeking to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel after next month's election has unveiled plans for swift change. However, polls suggest there is little chance Peer Steinbrück will get to put his plans into action.
Steinbrück, the Social Democrats' (SPD) candidate for the chancellery used a press conference in Berlin on Thursday to unveil a package of nine priorities that he wants to take action on in his first 100 days as chancellor.
"The first measure will be to introduce a minimum (hourly) wage of 8.50 euros ($11.28)," Steinbrück said.
This he said, would help the economy by increasing disposable income, while at the same time easing financial pressure on social services, as it would lift the level of income of low earners to a level at which they would no longer need state top ups.
Steinbrück also pledged to combat poverty among the old aged by introducing a monthly minimum pension of 850 euros.
Legislation would also be introduced, he said, that would ensure that women are paid the same as men for the same work.
The SPD candidate also said he would raise the highest tax bracket of income tax and the flat rate withholding tax, in an effort to increase government revenue.
He also said an SPD-led government would do away with the current government's child care supplement, investing some of the savings in day care. Steinbrück said his plan would lead to the creation of new day care centers with the capacity for an additional 200,000 children by 2017.
Among the other priorities on the list are new financial market regulations, introducing limits on rent increases and dual citizenship.
Under current regulations, a foreigner seeking to become naturalized usually must renounce his or her citizenship in order to become a German, although some exceptions exist. An attempt in the late 1990s by former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to introduce dual citizenship failed.
Betting on the undecided
Steinbrück also used the press conference to play up his chances of the SPD and the Greens winning enough votes on September 22 to form the next government.
While opinion polls put Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats well ahead of the SPD, Steinbrück pointed to a high number of still undecided voters.
"Just wait and see," Steinbrück said.
Looking ahead to his television debate with the chancellor, to be held this coming Sunday, Steinbrück said he expected it to be entertaining for the viewers.
"It won't be boring," he said.
pfd/hc (dpa, Reuters)