Scholz at the party conference: “No dismantling of the welfare state”

As of: December 9th, 2023 11:49 a.m

At the SPD federal party conference, Chancellor Scholz invoked the solidarity of his party. The budget crisis will not lead to a dismantling of the welfare state, he said to great applause from the delegates.

On the second day of the SPD party conference in Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke to the 600 delegates. He invoked the unity of his party – even under public pressure. Some had expected that cohesion would be over at the party conference, he said. But that won’t happen.

Even four years ago, the SPD was in a very difficult situation. No one believed the Social Democrats would be successful in the federal election two years before the 2021 election. The SPD is currently in a similar situation: two years before the federal election currently planned for 2025, the SPD’s poll numbers are once again in the basement. “This social democratic party will continue to work together for the next few years,” said Scholz to great applause.

Household conversations “difficult task”

With a view to the budget for 2024, which has not yet been decided, Scholz said that major savings in the social sector could not be made with the SPD. “In such a situation there will be no dismantling of the welfare state in Germany.” The talks with the FDP and the Greens are a “very difficult task.” But he wanted to convey confidence that it would succeed. Scholz recalled that the Union had also approved the law on citizens’ money. “In a situation like this you have to resist,” he said about calls to limit or suspend the increase for those receiving citizens’ benefit in the coming year.

Scholz assured Ukraine of further help. “We continue to support Ukraine in its defense struggle,” he said, receiving loud applause from around 600 delegates. The message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is: “He should not and must not expect us to let up.”

Referring to the situation in the Middle East, Scholz said: “Germany stands on Israel’s side, we will support the country and we support the right to self-defense.” Shouting anti-Semitic slogans on German streets is a punishable offense. “We will not accept this.” Scholz also condemned hatred of Muslims.

Right-wing populism Oppose confidence

Regarding the growing right-wing populism in Germany and other countries, Scholz said that uncertainties also had to do with the changes in the world. “It has to be possible to have confidence. You have to be able to believe that things will turn out well for you, your own children and grandchildren, that the world has ten billion inhabitants, that others are also rich and can do something.” That is not a threat, said Scholz. “We can be at the forefront if we do the right things and if we rely on a society that sticks together. Then there is confidence and that is the one thing we have to counter the right-wing populists.”

On the other hand, the SPD must not let anyone get away with “developing the idea because they are not doing well, so they can have right-wing radical ideas,” said Scholz to great applause.

Critical applications for Migration policy

The party conference began on Friday and runs until Sunday. In the afternoon it will be about the international positioning of the SPD. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is also leader of the Spanish Socialists, is expected to be a guest speaker.

Another topic is migration and refugee policy. The party leadership only decided on its own key motion shortly before the party conference in view of the many critical motions regarding the government’s course and the EU asylum reform. In particular, he calls for state sea rescue in the Mediterranean and the return to family reunification for those entitled to subsidiary protection who are not granted asylum in Germany but are allowed to stay for the time being for humanitarian or other reasons.

On Saturday, the party leaders Lars Klingbeil and Saskia Esken as well as General Secretary Kevin Kühnert were re-elected with good results. The SPD also passed a key proposal that provides for a relaxation of the debt brake and a “one-off crisis levy” for wealthy people.

Torben Ostermann, ARD Berlin, tagesschau, December 9th, 2023 12:11 p.m

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