ARD summer interview: Esken sees “duty to active economic policy”

ARD summer interview: Esken sees "duty to active economic policy"

In view of the poor economic figures, SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken has called for the German economy not to be “talked into a depression”. “Half the battle is psychology,” she said in ARD summer interview. Esken emphasized that the German economy and, above all, small and medium-sized enterprises have a strong basis.

At the same time, she also believes that political concessions are necessary – which she called “the duty of active economic policy”: “We as the SPD have been making it very clear for a long time that we have a duty to have a more active industrial and economic policy,” said the politician. This should “point in the right direction”, provide the infrastructure, contain state investments and at the same time request investments from the economy.

yes to bridge electricity price

When asked about specific economic measures, for example to combat high inflation, Esken differentiated: Many of these measures, such as a reduction in VAT, are only effective in the short term. “We must ensure that better wages – the higher minimum wage and better negotiated wages – enable people to bear the rising prices.” At the same time, you have to get inflation under control through clever interest rate policy.

Esken spoke out in favor of a bridge electricity price – i.e. state-financed electricity price discounts for industrial companies. However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz is still opposed to this.

The climate money for citizens agreed in the coalition agreement – services to compensate for the burden of rising CO2 prices – will not come before 2025.

Motivate the population on the subject of climate protection

With regard to climate policy, Esken admitted that she had not done everything right in communicating about the Building Energy Act (GEG), although she said that an important step in climate protection had been taken.

The traffic light parties had been arguing for months about the GEG with the heating rules. As a result, sales of heat pumps collapsed. The passage of the law in the Bundestag was stopped by the Federal Constitutional Court before the summer break and is now due to take place at the beginning of September. Esken firmly rejected the accusation that politics in this area was based on surveys.

In the subsequent online format “Ask yourself”, the SPD chairwoman described climate policy as a “really important task”. In the face of researchers’ warnings that Germany could miss the climate targets, Esken promised to do everything possible to implement the projects effectively. This also includes supporting the population with necessary measures and motivating them to act in a climate-friendly manner.

“More brain power” put into social housing

According to Esken, a lot should also be done when it comes to the housing shortage: “There really needs to be more brain power,” she said. The country must become faster and invest more in planning and approving social housing. It must be worthwhile again to build social housing, said the SPD leader.

more confident Looking to the future of the party

When asked about her party’s poor poll numbers, Esken was confident: “The party is more united at the top and in working with the government and parliamentary groups than ever before. That makes us strong and confident for the future,” she said. Although the Social Democrats are currently the biggest losers of the traffic light parties, the chairwoman is convinced that the SPD will score points with its policies and reach the people.

Responding to a viewer question on “Ask Yourself”, Esken confirmed that the SPD had done a good job since taking over the government. In view of the situation in which the traffic light coalition took the lead, the past two years are viewed “with great satisfaction”. “We have modernized and advanced the welfare state.” It is now important to propose the right measures to strengthen the economy in the autumn so that it can also develop forwards, according to Esken.

Hope to avert cuts in civic education

Nevertheless, the politician is concerned about the future of political education in the country and is hoping to be able to avert the planned cuts in this area. In the case of “Ask yourself”, Esken referred to Parliament’s “royal right” to decide the budget. The SPD will “make sure that exactly these issues are not shaved off”.

Esken commented that the budget of the Federal Agency for Civic Education is to be reduced next year by 20 million to 76 million euros: “Of course it hurts.” Rather, one must see how one can strengthen the federal headquarters. But there are also other topics such as advising migrants. “I’m counting on the strength of Parliament,” emphasized Esken.

“Clear edge” against AfD

When asked about her party’s dealings with the AfD, Esken said she would not “advocate” cooperation, even at the local level. If – as happened in the past in Hildburghausen in Thuringia when a mayor was voted out of office – there should be a joint voting behavior, one would “also talk to the comrades on site”. There is “a clear edge” from the federal leadership of the SPD.

You have to “pull up the firewall against this clearly right-wing extremist party” in the municipalities, states and federal government. She does not rule out an attempt to ban the AfD, should there be sufficient information from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.


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