Merkel presents election platform | News | DW | 24.06.2013
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Merkel presents election platform

Chancellor Angela Merkel has presented her Christian Democrats' election platform three months ahead of polling day. Rival parties branded a promise of more spending with no tax rises as extravagant and disingenuous.

The joint election pledges between Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), were agreed to on Sunday in Berlin.

About 120 leading politicians from the two parties voted unanimously for the 120-page "Government Program for Germany 2013-2017."

The manifesto - announced formally by Merkel at a party conference on Monday - included a promise of no tax increases, but also a commitment to pump public money into some key projects.

The conservatives are to set aside 25 billion euros ($33 billion) to upgrade Germany's highway system. The parties have also pledged to extend tax breaks to families with children and raise pension entitlements for mothers who stay at home with children.

Merkel said on Monday the CDU-CSU election pledges were "measured and centered."

In addition, there were promises to invest in education and research.

The conservatives claim that the extra funding would come through a strengthening of the economy and the resulting increase in tax revenue.

But the parties have rejected the idea of pooling the public debts of eurozone governments, through the creation of so-called eurobonds. The idea is being promoted by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), as a way to end the long-running debt crisis.

"This would lead to a European debt union, where the German taxpayer would need to take over almost all the debt of other countries. We reject that," the party program said.

Criticism from both sides

Following Sunday's vote, Merkel called the program "a paradigm shift from the past 40 years." She promised "solid finances, a halt to new debt, repayment of old debt, and investment in the future." The aim would be to pay off the national debt by 2015.

Criticism came, however, from the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), the CDU's junior coalition partner, and from the opposition Social Democrats (SPD).

FDP leader and Germany's Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler accused the CDU and CSU of being lured by "the sweet poison of spending."

Thomas Oppermann, the SPD faction's parliamentary floor speaker, labeled the manifesto "insincerity in print," claiming the chancellor was promising "everything under the sun" after a failed program of reforms.

The federal election is due to take place on September 22.

rc, jr/ipj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)