Coalition Agreement between Christian Conservatives and Social Democrats

The new government has been formed and remains basically the same. Some offices will be headed by a new face, such as the Social Democratic Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz (Ministry of Finance) or Bavarian Minister President of the Christian Social Union, Horst Seehofer. He will oversee a new Super Ministry for Interior, Building and a dubious “Heimat” (home, homeland). All of this does not sound too promising.

The record breaking 177 pages of the coalition contract enlist 105 audit assignemnts and 15 committees. Yet, there will be no citizens’ insurance which would abolish the two-tier-medicine in favour of a single-payer healthcare where everyone contributes regardless of income or status and receives equal services. Equally, unfounded fixed-term contracts will not be eliminated, unnecessarily increasing the insecure work situation for many. There is no mention of a pensions’ raise to protect from old age poverty. Instead, many small single measures shall be implemented which sometimes take a step towards progression but mostly head towards the wrong direction.

Taxes

  • There will be no wealth tax, not even an increase of the top tax rate.

Pensions and protection from poverty

  • Extension of low income so called “Midijobs” (employment with a wage between 450 and 850 euro). While both employees and employers then need to pay less social security contributions, employees can brace themselves for a pension below poverty level.
  • There is much talking of cohesion and solidarity, yet no intention to abolish the social benefits or rather sanctions system of “Hartz IV” or to implement effective measures against old age poverty.
  • For women it will remain unlikely to receive a decent pension since many of them will not have contributed to the pensions office for 35 years.
  • A relief fund will be set up for especially underpriviliged pensioners in East Germany: charity instead of justice.
  • Nothing will change in terms of existing poverty and child poverty, even the additional 25 euro child allowance will be cut.

Social housing

  • 55000 new social housing flats are planned – in contrast to the 5 million that are actually required.

Health care

  • 8000 additional care jobs will be created, a drop in the bucket of at least 100000 required care jobs in hospitals and 40000 in elderly care.

Military

  • Defence spending will be increased while a stop or reduction of arms exports find no mention.

Migration policy

  • The list of safe state of origins was extended, while the reunion of families of migrants will be further limited. The upper limit for the admission of migrants will be around 200000 per year.

Climate

  • There are no climate goals to be achieved until 2020 anymore. Instead, they are now set until 2030. Furthermore, the air traffic tax will be abolished.

All in all, the Social Democrats could secure many desired offices yet barely enforce any of their already weak demands. The Christian Conservatives, on the other hand, did not have to compromise regarding their core issues economy, finances and security.

Latest polls see the Conservatives at stable 32 per cent while the Social Democrats are constantly losing, already ranging behind the rightwing populist AfD. Many members doubt the course of the leadership – which may be reflected in the membership vote on the coalition contract. The decision of the more then 460000 party members is due by the second of March. A not altogether unlikely No would lead to either snap elections or a minority government - for the first time in the history of the Federal Republic. This could be the final straw to safe the Social Democrats from their demise.