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Germany's left-wing Social Democrats submit member request in fight against social cuts

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Germany's left-wing Social Democrats submit member request in fight against social cuts
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 15, 2024. Left-wing Social Democrats have submitted a member request to the party executive to oppose Finance Minister Christian Lindner's planned cuts social sector budget cuts. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Left-wing Social Democrats have submitted a member request to the party executive amid ongoing negotiations for the 2025 federal budget. Among other things, they are calling for the executive to reject social sector cuts.

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German press agency DPA had sight of the proposal, which is supported by the left-wing Forum DL21 group, which several SPD members of parliament belong to. 

Referring to social affairs, health, youth, family, education, democracy and development cooperation, the paper states: "The departmental approaches of the ministries concerned must not be cut compared to the previous year's budget. Instead, we need growth in these areas as well as significantly more investment in affordable housing, sustainable infrastructure, strong municipalities and ambitious climate protection."

"An austerity budget would mean a ghost ride in economic, ecological and democratic terms," the paper continues, concluding with an appeal: "The party calls on the members of the SPD parliamentary group to only agree to a federal budget under these conditions."

The Jusos – the Young Socialists in the SPD – are also supporting the proposal: "The Juso Federal Executive Board supports the DL21 goal of a member request among SPD members for a strong investment budget and the prevention of an austerity budget as desired by the FDP," a spokesman for the party's youth told the DPA.

If successful, such a member request could restrict Chancellor Olaf Scholz's (SDP) scope for action in the negotiations with Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens).

According to Forum DL21, the initiation of the request requires the support of one percent of SPD members from at least ten sub-districts in at least three federal states.

That corresponds currently to almost 4,000 members who would have to declare their support online within a month.

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The request would then come into effect if 20 percent of members, i.e. around 76,000, support it within three months. The party executive must then declare whether it will grant the request - otherwise a member vote will be taken.

Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) is critical of the plan. "A federal budget like this is more than complex and completely unsuitable for a member survey," he told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

The dispute over savings in the 2025 budget is currently paralysing Germany's traffic light coalition and repeatedly raising questions about the continued existence of the three-party government.

Several departments do not want to comply with Lindner's savings targets. The finance minister, however, insists that the brake on new government debt enshrined in Germany's constitution (Grundgesetz) (it only makes provision for a limited amount of new debt) is adhered to. 

Lindner argues that investment needs up to 2030 and beyond can be covered by the regular budget. However, this requires restructuring expenditure and shifting priorities – such as the social budget.

 

 

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