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Godesberg Program of the SPD (November 1959)

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Associations in which people of different groups and sections of the population unite for common ends are necessary institutions of modern society. They must be democratically organised. The more powerful they are, the greater is the responsibility they carry, but the greater also is the danger of their abusing their power. Parliaments, administration and courts must not be allowed to come under the one-sided influence of vested interests.

Press, radio, television and cinema fulfill public tasks. They must be independent and free to gather information wherever they wish, to comment on it and to distribute it, and to form and express their own opinions. Radio and television should remain under the control of public corporations, and be directed by free and democratic boards. They must be safeguarded against pressure from interest groups.

Judges must have outer and inner independence if they are to serve justice in the name of the people. Lay judges should play an equally important part in jurisdiction. Only independent judges can pass judgment on criminal offences. Neither wealth nor poverty should have an influence on people’s access to courts or on jurisdiction. Legislation must keep pace with the development of society if justice is to be done and if the people’s sense of justice is not to be violated.

National Defence

The Social Democratic Party affirms the need to defend the free democratic society. It is in favour of national defence.

National defence must be adapted to the political and geographical position of Germany and therefore stay within the limits imposed by the necessity of creating the conditions for an easing of international tensions, for effectively controlled disarmament and for the reunification of Germany. Protection of the civilian population is an essential part of a country’s defence.

The Social Democratic Party demands that the means of mass destruction be banned by international law in the whole world.

[ . . . ]

The Economy

The goal of Social Democratic economic policy is the constant growth of prosperity and a just share for all in the national product, a life in freedom without undignified dependence and without exploitation.

The Second Industrial Revolution makes possible a rise in the general standard of living greater than ever before and the elimination of poverty and misery still suffered by large numbers of people.

Economic policy must secure full employment whilst maintaining a stable currency, increase productivity and raise general prosperity.

To enable all people to take part in the country’s growing prosperity there must be planning to adjust the economy to the constant structural changes in order to achieve a balanced economic development.

Such a policy demands national accounting and a national budget. The national budget must be approved by Parliament. It is binding on government policy, provides an important basis for the policies of the autonomous central bank, and establishes guiding lines for the economy which keeps its right to make independent decisions.

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