#EP2024: European elections: What the parties promise

#EP2024: European elections: What the parties promise

Election campaigns are a time for images and slogans – sometimes clever, sometimes enigmatic. But what exactly are the parties trying to achieve in the European election campaign?

In the final stretch before June 9th, the spark has not yet really caught on with many citizens. European elections, was there something? The big posters are back. Chancellors and ministers, celebrities and unknowns are advertising. Some are demanding: “Europe. Simply. Do it.” Others: “Act prudently.” Still others are asking: “Traffic lights or fast lane?” But what exactly do the parties want? An overview.

The SPD: Top issue: peace

The SPD is trying to score points with three main issues: peace, pensions, minimum wage. Peace is prominently featured on the election posters with leading candidate Katarina Barley and Chancellor Olaf Scholz, although an end to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza is not in sight. By “prudence” the Chancellor means not taking the risk that the war escalates into a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. The issue of pensions has less to do with Europe than with the current budget dispute in the traffic light coalition. Scholz does not want the pension system and the retirement age to be called into question, nor does he want to abolish the pension without deductions after 45 years of contributions, as demanded by the FDP.

And then Scholz reactivated a hit from the 2021 federal election campaign: an increase in the minimum wage, first to 14 and then to 15 euros. At least that has to do with the European Union, because there are European guidelines.

The Greens: Against the right

For the Greens, the European elections are about two major issues: preventing a shift to the right and climate protection. From the party’s point of view, both belong together. In 2019, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) presented the Green Deal, with which the European Union is to become climate-neutral by 2050 – in other words, not emitting more greenhouse gases than can be bound again. The Greens fear that the ambitious program could be cut back if the corresponding political majorities are formed. The Union and right-wing forces are trying to “put the axe to the Green Deal,” warned Green top candidate Terry Reintke.

Overall, the Greens celebrate the EU as a guarantor of peace and prosperity in their election manifesto entitled “What Protects Us”. The party would like to regulate other issues at a European level, such as “legally binding and enforceable labor and social standards.”

FDP: “Eurofighter” against von der Leyen

The FDP is staging the election campaign finale as a showdown between two women: on the one hand, their top candidate Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, previously chair of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, now known as the “Eurofighter”. On the other side is Commission President von der Leyen, who the FDP has declared to be its main opponent. Too much bureaucracy, too little commitment to free trade, the end of combustion engines, no clear no to new EU joint debt – the list of accusations against the CDU woman at the head of the EU Commission is long. “Less von der Leyen, more freedom” is the FDP’s slogan.

Their concrete demands include reducing bureaucracy and building a European army, support for the internationally agreed Paris climate target, but no regulatory requirements except for emissions trading.

CDU and CSU: For massive rearmament

The CDU and CSU also sometimes struggle with some of the ideas of their candidate von der Leyen: CDU leader Friedrich Merz wants to reverse the decision by all EU bodies to move away from new cars with combustion engines from 2035. The Union’s election manifesto, entitled “Europe with security – for a Europe that protects and benefits”, is emphatically conservative. It is intended to distance itself from both anti-Europeans and the traffic light parties.

The focus is on the key words freedom, security, prosperity and competitiveness. In view of the threat from Russia, the CDU and CSU are calling for a massive rearmament of the EU. Migration should be limited and external borders should be better protected. According to surveys, the Union has a good chance of becoming the strongest force in Germany – it is stable at 30 percent, which is almost twice as much as predicted for the SPD, the Greens and the AfD.

AfD wants complete restructuring of the EU

The AfD, founded in 2013 as an “anti-euro party”, is staying true to itself in the 2024 election campaign: “We want to reintroduce national currencies to strengthen our sovereignty and competitiveness,” the party demands. It calls the EU as a whole an “undemocratic construct” and describes it as a failure. Instead, the AfD wants to establish a “federation of European nations”. The AfD’s basic program states: “If our fundamental reform approaches cannot be implemented in the existing EU system, we will strive for Germany to leave or for a democratic dissolution of the European Union and the founding of a new European Economic Community.”

In day-to-day politics, the AfD focuses on its core issue of migration: asylum procedures, for example, should only be available outside Germany. The party wants a return to nuclear power and an end to economic sanctions against Russia in order to be able to purchase Russian natural gas again.

Left: Tax and redistribute

The Left is now sparing in its fundamental criticism of the EU and writes in its election manifesto: “Despite all its inadequacies and faulty constructions, there must be no turning back from the political success of European integration, no turning back to the nation state.” Instead, the Left has set the following goals: combat poverty, tax large corporations more heavily and relax EU debt rules. The bottom line is that wealth should be redistributed, more investment should be made and the European economy should be boosted.

In its election manifesto, the Left Party describes the climate targets of the Green Deal as far too low. It is fitting that climate and refugee activist Carola Rackete is co-leading candidate. One idea for the climate turnaround: The Left Party wants to expand rail traffic across borders with a “United Railways of Europe” – a “personal favorite demand” of party leader Janine Wissler. Her vision is: “Trains of all countries, unite.”

BSW for an “independent Europe”

The new alliance Sahra Wagenknecht is using the key words economic reason, social justice, peace, freedom of speech and democracy in the European election campaign. The party of former Left politician Wagenknecht is calling for an “independent Europe” at a distance from the USA. Specifically, it wants “the war in Ukraine to be ended as quickly as possible with a ceasefire and the start of peace negotiations”.

The BSW also thinks that the economic sanctions against Russia are wrong and that the limitation of migration is right. Asylum procedures are to be moved to the EU’s external borders or to third countries. The BSW is critical of the Green Deal in its current form and would rather have “climate policy and environmental protection through technological innovation”. Wagenknecht also sees the end of new cars with combustion engines in 2035 as a red flag. Overall, she comes to the conclusion: “The EU in its current form is damaging the European idea.”

Source: Stern

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