How can the Berlin SPD get out of its low in the polls? The state executive board presents a program designed to ease the burden on lower and middle incomes.
State chairman Michael Muller and parliamentary group leader Raed Saleh at the closed meeting of the Berlin SPD state executive board Photo: dpa
At a closed-door meeting on Saturday, the Berlin SPD state executive committee agreed on a 10-point program that envisions relief for Berliners of around 500 million euros annually. The minimum hourly wage for public contracts is to be set at 11 euros, and a kind of Berlin bonus of 150 euros per month is to be introduced for the 110,000 or so state employees in the city. There are also plans to make things easier in the field of education; for example, free after-school care and free meals in daycare centers and schools.
"The lower incomes in particular should benefit from this program," ulker Radziwill, deputy chairwoman of the SPD parliamentary group in the House of Representatives, told the taz on Sunday. Radziwill believes it is "enormously important in terms of social policy" for the SPD to turn to old groups of voters, especially small and medium-sized employees. The SPD had recently dropped to 16 or 17 percent in polls, trailing the Left, CDU and Greens.
Asked what good a Berlin allowance would do a household that already has to spend more than half its income on net rent downtown, Radziwilll replied, "By doing one, we don’t let the other." She pointed out that the state of Berlin will own 400,000 apartments by 2020, and that even in new private construction, one-third of the apartments should remain in the social rental sector.
Through its plan to introduce both free after-school care and free meals in daycare centers and schools, however, the SPD will not only relieve poor families, but also those for whom fees of this kind do not hurt at all. Radziwill: "We don’t want to sort students according to their parents’ wallets." If one wants more justice here, one must start with the taxes, but that is unfortunately federal policy.
Already in the run-up to the closed meeting, some of the SPD’s plans had also been slimmed down. For example, the originally planned free ticket for all students on public transport is no longer in the paper. "The focus of this program was on salaries," Radzwill said. The free student ticket is not off the table yet, he said. The concept is initially only a basis for discussion. In mid-November, a state party conference is to make a final decision. (taz, dpa)