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Election manifesto

May 17, 2009

Germany's Free Democrats (FDP) have said they will hold off announcing plans for a coalition. FDP leader Guido Westerwelle says the Free Democrats are now keeping all options open.

FDP leader Guido Westerwelle
FDP leader Guido Westerwelle says tax reforms are the way to goImage: AP

"We want to rule," party leader Guido Westerwelle said to over 500 FDP delegates at a party convention over the weekend. General elections in Germany are due in September this year and traditionally the Liberals' goal would be to join forces as junior partners with Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Opinion polls show, however, that a coalition between the FDP and the CDU is unlikely to gain a ruling majority.

So, the Free Democrats are forced to keep their options open. Westerwelle on Sunday reconfirmed his preference for the CDU, but added that his party also wouldn't exclude forming a three-way coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens.

Announcement to come before upcoming elections

The FDP, Germany's third largest party behind the CDU and the SPD, concluded their party convention on Sunday saying that any concrete plans for a possible coalition would only be announced one week ahead of September’s election.

Chairman of the SPD's parlianmentary faction
Struck says the Free Democrats must join the SPD and the Greens if they want to ruleImage: AP

Peter Struck, the chairman of the SPD's parliamentary faction, told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in a Sunday interview that the FDP would have to enter a coalition with the SPD and the Greens if it wanted to win a majority in the general elections.

"It doesn't matter what Guido Westerwelle says at this point: the Free Democrats will have to be ready to enter a coalition with the SPD and the Greens if they want to rule. Otherwise they would risk being out of power until at least 2013, making it 15 years since they have been a part of a ruling coalition. Westerwelle wouldn't risk that," he said.

FDP running on tax reform

The economy is likely to be one of the main battlegrounds in the September election, and the FDP has vehemently criticized Merkel's coalition policies, in particular state bailouts and government stimulus measures.

"If a big company goes bust, the German eagle flies in. If a small company goes bust, the bankruptcy vultures arrive," Westerwelle said with both fists clenched at the weekend convention.

Westerwelle has also promised tax cuts to help lift Germany out of its deepest recession since the end of the Second World War. The FDP election campaign promises an overhaul of the German tax system and a reduction of the burden on middle class families to the tune of up to 35 billion euros ($47.40 billion).

"Tax cuts will help the economy more than subsidizing one branch after the other. We should relieve the burden on the middle classes. That is the best answer to the downturn," he said.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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