How German parties copy ideas from other countries | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

As the election campaign enters its very final phase, DW takes a look at the major political parties and some of the ideas they have borrowed from other countries:

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – Turning the long-term unemployed into street cleaners (from Denmark)

As the polls reached historic lows, some representatives of Armin Laschet’s struggling center-right Christian Democratic Union decided to try and consolidate his conservative base in early September.

Sven Schulze, head of the CDU in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, told the Bild tabloid that the party was considering forcing the long-term unemployed to do community service, such as sweeping litter and leaves from the streets.

Several other prominent conservative figures echoed the idea, including CDU parliamentary leader in Berlin, Burkard Dregger, and Michael Kuffer, home policy spokesperson for the CDU’s Bavarian ally, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

But the policy has apparently been criticized by the Danish government, which recently launched such an initiative on the grounds that it could help immigrants integrate into the labor market. The plan has been the subject of much criticism in Denmark, with some saying it has done nothing to help people find work and others noting that overburdened local authorities have found themselves with the task of finding work. work for people.

Social Democratic Party (SPD) – Pension reform (from Sweden)

The leading SPD has often raised the unattractive but important question of pension reform. The Swedish pension model has long been seen as attractive by many German politicians because it is similar to the German model – mixing public, private and corporate pensions, with the key difference that the Swedes pay an additional contribution that is placed in public funds that are invested in capital markets.

The pro-free market FDP, unsurprisingly, is very enthusiastic about the idea, although the SPD has also spied on something else it likes about the Swedish model: the fact that private pensions can also be offered by public institutions.

Green Party – Ban on BPA chemicals (from France)

Surprisingly perhaps, Germany is lagging behind many of its neighbors when it comes to banning toxic chemicals. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in many plastic products, including food containers, and has been linked to poor semen quality and asthma. It has also been found that BPAs disrupt the fertility of fish as they pass through ecosystems.

The United States Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has previously banned the use of BPA to make baby bottles. The European Union has classified BPA as a “substance of very high concern”, while France has banned their use since 2015. The Green Party election manifesto specifically cites the French example, saying it is keen to protect consumers.

The FDP wants to introduce new teaching methods

Free Democratic Party (FDP) – Learning Analytics (from China and US), Points Based Immigration (from Canada)

The FDP has made Germany’s digital overhaul one of its main projects – but to be fair, the other parties have all recognized that Germany’s poor digital infrastructure is a huge problem for voters. But the FDP’s plans appear to be the most ambitious, with a comprehensive plan to plug the entire education system into some sort of artificial intelligence.

This plan is called Learning Analytics, an idea already implemented in the United States and China, and involves extracting huge amounts of data on students in order to optimize learning environments. “Artificial intelligence offers the possibility of individualizing learning and teaching for children and young people”, promises the manifesto of the FDP. Perhaps given the privacy sensitivity of Germans, the manifesto hastily adds that this must of course happen under strict data protection.

The FDP is also very interested in Canada’s famous points-based immigration system, a model that German politicians from many parties have been enthusiastic about over the past two decades. The points system, also used in Australia, is seen as a way to organize immigration to favor those most likely to enter the workforce (for example, because of their age or skills linguistic). This, argues the FDP in its manifesto, would attract more skilled workers (which German companies desperately lack) from non-EU countries to Germany – even before they have a job offer.

Left Party – Four-day / 30-hour working week (from Iceland)

In early July, the Icelandic Association for Sustainability and Democracy (Alda) called the country’s seven-year experience of reducing working hours a “total success”. Employees reported feeling healthier and less stressed, while employers did not complain about productivity. The change encouraged companies to streamline their operations: there were fewer meetings and unnecessary tasks were removed.

The German Left Socialist Party first launched the idea of ​​a four-day working week in 2020, gaining media attention. But, this specific sentence does not appear in the current electoral manifesto (as it did in an initial draft). Instead, the manifesto states that the party “supports the unions in their fight for a significant reduction in working time, towards a 30-hour week”.

Porsche manufacturing

The Left Party wants to introduce a four-day working week

Alternative for Germany (AfD) – Ban on Muslim clothing, no more referendums (from Switzerland), restrictive immigration (from Japan)

No country is mentioned with more approval in the far-right party manifesto than Switzerland (where co-leader Alice Weidel also has a home). The AfD manifesto says Switzerland has both a better tax system (higher than average income taxes are lower) and better trains than Germany.

Like Switzerland, and several other European countries, the AfD wants to ban the wearing of the Muslim burqa and the niqab. The AfD also wants to import what it calls the “Swiss model” on referendums, which it even goes so far as to qualify as a “non-negotiable” condition for any coalition negotiation (this is academic since all the other parties have ruled out a coalition with the AfD). The model would allow ordinary citizens to make legislative proposals, although it is not clear exactly how those proposals would advance to the referendum stage.

The AfD is also enamored of the Japanese immigration system, which it considers particularly restrictive and protective of national identity.

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW’s editors summarize what’s going on in German politics and society, with the aim of understanding this year’s elections and beyond. You can sign up for the weekly Berlin Briefing email newsletter here, to stay abreast of developments as Germany enters the post-Merkel era.

James R. Rhodes