Merkel distances CDU from coalition partners
3 December 2007, Hanover, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid claim to the centre ground of German politics and distanced her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from its Social Democratic (SPD) coalition partners at the annual CDU congress in Hanover Monday. Merkel was particularly scathing about the SPD decision, taken at its congress in Hamburg five weeks ago, to restore the word "socialism" to its programme and to move to the left. The SPD had given up the centre ground, she said. "Eighte
3 December 2007
Hanover, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid claim to the centre ground of German politics and distanced her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from its Social Democratic (SPD) coalition partners at the annual CDU congress in Hanover Monday.
Merkel was particularly scathing about the SPD decision, taken at its congress in Hamburg five weeks ago, to restore the word "socialism" to its programme and to move to the left.
The SPD had given up the centre ground, she said.
"Eighteen years after the self-liberation of Eastern Germans the SPD has taken the decision to explicitly incorporate socialism in their new programme," Merkel said.
The CDU lacked all comprehension for this move, said Merkel, who herself lived under communism in East Germany until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
"Here is the centre ground. We are here in the centre, and only we are in the centre," Merkel said just over two years since taking power at the head of a "grand coalition" of the two major parties.
"In the centre freedom reigns, and that is why we are the party of the centre," the chancellor said to enthusiastic applause from more than 1,000 delegates for her 72-minute speech.
Merkel highlighted the German economic recovery and said the upswing was reaching ever more people. But she warned: "We cannot rest on our laurels."
Germany was still living beyond its means and placing a burden on future generations, she said.
Merkel lashed out at exorbitant executive pay, particularly when the rewards appeared to be for failure.
She came out in favour of a limited minimum wage programme geared to specific sectors within the broad framework of free wage bargaining without state intervention.
Germany had to see globalization as a chance, while also protecting its own intellectual property and the jobs that resulted from German ingenuity, she said.
Merkel repeated her government's aim to set up a regulatory framework for global financial markets to prevent turbulence from hitting the real economy.
On immigration, she said new arrivals had to accept the German culture and that children had to have adequate knowledge of the German language to make their way in society.
"Parallel societies have nothing to do with tolerance," she warned.
And she restated CDU policy that Turkey should be offered a privileged partnership with the European Union and not full membership.
On climate change, she said sustainability combining economic common sense and ecological responsibility was the key, and she restated her view that nuclear energy should be retained as an option.
The coalition is committed to carrying out the policy of the previous SPD-led government to shut down nuclear power by 2023.
Merkel rejected criticism over her conduct of foreign policy, saying foreign relations had to be "values based." The chancellor has been criticized by German business and the SPD for a meeting with the Dalai Lama in September that severely hit relations with China.
And she reaffirmed CDU family and Christian values, saying that there would be no permission for cloning under her chancellorship.
The CDU is to vote on a new basic programme at the two-day congress, which is taking place just two years before the next elections are due.
The CDU, together with its Bavarian sister, the CSU, is scoring around 40 per cent in the polls, well ahead of the SPD.
Subject: German news, Europe, UN, environment, Kyoto, Bali