The party has agreed on 10 non-negotiable demands including a minimum wage of €8.50 ( £7.19) per hour, equal pay for men and women, greater investment in infrastructure and education, and a common strategy to boost Eurozone growth and employment.
According to an internal document, seen by Reuters, the party will also demand equal pensions for seniors in the former West and East Germany, the ability to have dual citizenship, and measures to make it easier to combine work with family life.
The list was prepared for a meeting yesterday where about 200 senior members from across Germany voted on whether to start coalition talks with Merkel’s conservative party. The majority opted for formal talks to proceed and talks on coalition policies and cabinet posts are likely to begin this week and last more than a month. No mention was made in the document of tax increases for the wealthiest, which the SPD had campaigned on during September’s election but which the chancellor has ruled out.
Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) emerged as the strongest political force in the 22 September election but fell several seats short of a parliamentary majority, forcing them to seek a coalition ally.
The SPD, which came second, was seen as a likely partner from the start, but the party is keen to avoid a rerun of its 2005-2009 grand coalition with Merkel. It emerged from that with its worst election result since World War Two, making members sceptical about another union.
“This time I can guarantee that we will not strike a coalition agreement in which we do the opposite of what we pledged in the election,” SPD Chairman Sigmar Gabriel said.