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Coalition of the Center (October 13, 1982)

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It is also now a precept of social peace and social justice that we give honesty, achievement, and self-responsibility another chance. Ladies and gentlemen, the CDU/CSU and the FDP are again forming a coalition of the center in order to make a historical new start.

What was possible in 1949 under serious psychological wounds and material burdens is also possible and necessary today. The bringing together of social, Christian, and liberal ideas was the defining characteristic of an epoch that is correctly considered the most successful era of German postwar politics. I would like to quote a liberal comrade-in-arms of that time, Thomas Dehler, who said: “The liberal idea of man is profoundly tied to Christian truth. Man has dignity, having been created in the image of God, as bearer of an immortal soul, as a unique, distinctive personality. Preserving that dignity in earthly life is the liberal obligation.”

Our state, the Federal Republic of Germany, was founded upon the free consent of its citizens. More than thirty years ago, Konrad Adenauer led the Germans into the community of the free nations of the West and built the foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany upon that foundation. Reconciliation with France was possible, and with the people and state of Israel. And we became a respected partner in NATO, the Western alliance.

The social market economy was a creative piece of work. It means more than affluence. It is based on a social order of peace that is still considered exemplary in many countries of the world. This year we implemented the principle of solidarity: through wage-index-linked pensions and co-determination, through continued wage payments during illness, through the Labor Management Act and the formation of wealth.

Twelve million ethnic Germans and refugees from the East helped build up the Federal Republic of Germany in those years. People gained trust in the constitutional state; a democratic consciousness and a new political culture developed. In an era filled with tension, the Federal Republic gained inner stability and the trust of its neighbors. The Germans relearned – to quote Ernst Bloch – the dignity of walking upright. Ladies and gentlemen, we can build upon this inheritance, and it gives us the strength to do what we need to do today. What do we want today? What needs to be done now and today?

Our emergency program focuses on four points: First: We want to create new jobs. Second: We want to secure the social system. Third: We want to implement humane policies as regards foreigners. Fourth: We want to renew the foundations of German foreign and security policies. We especially want to create and preserve jobs, first by stimulating private and public investments. For this, the economy needs future prospects that are free from unnecessary burdens, insecurities, and bureaucratic requirements from the state. Public budgets have to shift more weight from consumptive to future-oriented use. This applies to spending as well as income.

[ . . . ]

Source: “Koalition der Mitte: Für eine Politik der Erneuerung.” Regierungserklärung des Bundeskanzlers am 13. Oktober 1982 vor dem Deutschen Bundestag in Bonn [“Coalition of the Center: For a Policy of Renewal”: Policy Statement by the Federal Chancellor, Delivered on October 13, 1982, before the German Bundestag in Bonn], in Bulletin (Press and Information Office of the Federal Government), no. 93, October 14, 1983, p. 853 ff.

Translation: Allison Brown

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