The election campaign is underway! Election campaign? Recently, in the press but also in Berlin, there has been relatively little to suggest that at the end of September we will be electing a new parliament and determining the next government. Hardly any topic lasts longer than three days; there has been no top topic for the election campaign to date.
Is Germany weary of election campaigns? Perhaps since economically we are doing better than hardly ever before?
All parties want the same thing – a misconception
The fact that the election campaign is plodding rather slowly along is certainly not due to the parties’ manifestos. It is simply wrong to say that the electoral programs are all the same. Of course, when it comes to some issues the differences are modest, but, especially regarding economic and labor market policies, there is a clear dividing line:
While the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and The Left primarily favor redistribution, for Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), it is clear that we must first generate prosperity before we can distribute it. After the election, this will also be the line against which many specific issues will be decided.
How can we continue to secure jobs and ensure a continuing increase in wages? (With competitive companies!) How much longer should social spending rise more quickly than economic output? (2016 was the fifth year in a row, reaching a record € 918 billion!) And do we need fixed-term contracts or should they be abolished? (The former – because fixed-term contracts provide sometimes necessary flexibility that helps create employment!)
The electoral programs from an employer’s perspective
For the companies in my industry, these are central questions that will determine the success of Germany as a business location. We are contributing to the political debate and are part of the democratic process.
We have summarized the positions of the chemical industry employers on the 2017 election in ten points:
- Social justice is not possible without a strong economy. Only if we generate a lot in Germany can we distribute a lot. Politicians must do more to strengthen Germany as a business location.
- We are calling for more room for maneuver for collective bargaining partners – they are more closely involved than legislators. However, if something is regulated by law, then companies that are subject to collective agreements must be able to derogate from the legislation.
- We strongly object to any statutory limitation to entrepreneurial freedom. That applies both to fixed-term contracts and to part-time and temporary employment.
- We intend to modernize working time legislation: The social partners should take on more responsibility.
- The contribution rate to the German statutory pension insurance system must remain under 22%. Stabilizing or raising the national pension level overburdens pension insurance funds and contributors; moreover, it does not help to prevent poverty among the elderly. Expanding company pension schemes is the right way to improve the overall adequacy of pension provision.
- We reject calls for a “return to equal financing” of statutory health insurance. Employers make a significantly higher contribution than employees through continued salary payments in case of sickness alone. Furthermore, the supplement paid by insured persons is a central element of the necessary competition among healthcare providers.
- In occupational health and safety, greater self-responsibility must be assumed instead of favoring new regulations. The existing regulations are sufficient.
- We must improve education and vocational training – through greater investment, but also through basic digital education as a compulsory part of schooling.
- Advanced training must be based on business needs. We object to a blanket legal entitlement to advanced training or a “federal education authority”.
- We want a strong Europe that provides a high level of social protection and strengthens employment. But not all areas of life must be subject to uniform social standards across Europe. This would be doomed to fail simply because of the very different levels of economic performance.
These are all positions, not reasons. I will gladly expand upon why Germany’s chemical employers think this way before and after the election.