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The CDU Adopts a Neoliberal Party Program (February 23, 1994)

In response to changes in elite opinion, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) proposed a new party program during its Hamburg Congress. The program embraced neoliberal ideas, shifting the rhetorical emphasis away from the social market economy and solidarity to competitiveness.

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Basic Program of the German CDU: “Freedom in Responsibility”

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Towards an Ecological and Social Market Economy

1. Principles of the Ecological and Social Market Economy

67. The ecological and social market economy is an economic and political program for everyone. Its intellectual foundations lie in the concept of freedom with responsibility, which itself is a fundament of the Christian understanding of humanity. Thus, it contrasts both with the socialist idea of a planned economy and the liberal concept of an economic system without any constraints. We support the idea of an ecological and social market economy because it can realize our basic values of freedom, solidarity, and justice better than any other economic and social order. It is based on achievement and social justice, on competition and solidarity, and on personal responsibility and social security. It combines the individual drive to perform and achieve with the principle of fairness and cooperation in society, and the ecological principles it contains ensure the preservation of God's creation.

We put our trust in people's ability to develop in freedom and responsibility. We know that humankind is capable of misusing its capabilities and of operating without consideration for social and ecological concerns, and that is why we believe the state has to establish a framework that strengthens the forces of self-regulation within the economic system and obliges all those concerned to take social and ecological requirements into account. Here, the principles of competition and the principles of the social and ecological order are interrelated and, indeed, mutually dependent. We want to develop the ecological and social market economy in a way that strengthens personal initiative, involves more and more people in social and economic progress, and affords effective protection to the environment.

Competition and the Market

68. The market and competition are central elements in our approach to the economy, and they allow for freedom through the decentralization of power. The market is the economic equivalent of a free democracy. Competition encourages individuals to perform and achieve and, in this way, also serves the system as a whole. The market and competition make it possible to supply people with goods and services efficiently and at a low cost, to ensure that production is geared to the wishes of consumers, to encourage innovation, and to oblige companies to participate in ongoing rationalization. More state and less market, on the other hand, makes those capable of performing less prepared to do so, and therefore leads to less prosperity and less freedom for all. However, the market alone cannot create social justice. The performance-based justice of the market is not the same as social justice. That is why an ecological and social market economy combines a system of markets and a system of social provisions in accordance with the principle: as much market as possible (in order to promote individual initiative, the desire to perform and achieve, and the willingness to take responsibility for oneself) and as much state as necessary (in order to guarantee competition and to preserve the social and ecological elements of the system).

The concept of socially responsible private property is part and parcel of any free, social market system. Private ownership of the means of production is necessary if scarce goods are to be used economically and carefully, and if the economy is to perform at its most efficient. Freedom of contract, freedom of trade, freedom of establishment, and freedom to choose a profession are just as important for free economic activity as the opportunity to earn profits and the risk of incurring losses.

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