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With Eye on Election, German SPD Chief Gets Down To Business

Source: DPA
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If the Social Democrats can persuade German voters they can manage the economy, they will have a better chance of leading the country.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Ahead of federal elections in 2017, the Social Democratic leader wants to re-position his party as a friend of business.
    • The SPD lost the last two federal elections against Angela Merkel by big margins.
    • Economic exports warn Germany needs to reform its economy to maintain momentum.
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    Audio

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In a political change of tactic with an eye to the next federal elections in 2017, the head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party on Tuesday will unveil a new six-point plan that aims to reposition the junior coalition partner as a friend of German business.

The plan to be presented by Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD party leader and vice chancellor, will focus on improving worker training, reducing bureaucracy and lowering energy costs, according to a copy of his plan obtained by Handelsblatt. Mr. Gabriel is supposed to present details of his plan on Tuesday in a speech with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to a business gathering.

For Mr. Gabriel and Germany’s Social Democrats, the stakes are high. The party did poorly in the last two national elections in 2009 and 2013, and lost significant support in a recent election in the German state of Thuringia. In general, German voters do not trust the SPD’s ability to manage Europe’s largest economy.

“The truth is that the Social Democrats are not regarded as economically competent among voters,” said Gero Neugebauer, a political science expert at the Free University in Berlin.

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