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Chancellor Angela Merkel Defends her Gradual Approach to Reforms (November 27, 2006)

A year after her election, Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a speech at the CDU’s Dresden party congress. She defended her decision to take a slow approach to the fundamental reforms she had promised during her campaign. The Grand Coalition with the SPD, she explained, left her with limited leeway, and she offered this as a justification for her gradual approach. Still, Merkel stood by her earlier reform agenda, despite its lack of popularity.

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Speech by the Chair of the German CDU, Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, at the 20th Party Congress on November 27, 2006, in Dresden

[ . . . ]

Today we stand by our country, our language, our culture, and our constitution as a matter of course. We are finally feeling the vitality, the inspiration of our liberal values.

[ . . . ]

And now for an assessment of our budget policy. We are finally fulfilling our responsibility to future generations once again. The budget finally meets the stipulations of the Basic Law again. We have the lowest level of new debt since reunification. The Maastricht criteria have been met for the first time in years. And so, step by step, we are no longer consuming our capital.

Finally, an assessment of our economic, labor market, and social polies. This year unemployment fell by almost half a million people. The number of job openings is growing. Economic growth is twice as high as it was in 2005. Fewer and fewer companies are going bankrupt. Price increases are leveling out. Non-wage labor costs are sinking. These are successes that we can build upon.

Dear friends, I don’t want to sugarcoat things. In 2005, we really did campaign for a different kind of coalition. But even after an exacting evaluation of our work as a whole, we are still able to say: people have been waiting years for the kind of results that we’ve been able to present after only one year!

They’ve been waiting improvement in the economy and on the labor market! And that’s precisely what we’ve achieved!

Of course, we know that people are afraid that the positive economic and labor market trends will prove short-lived. That, once again, they will be nothing more than a flash in the pan. That’s why we have to do everything in our power to ensure that things keep getting better. Reliability in politics is a prerequisite for public trust.

That’s why we have to ensure that the positive effects of our policies will continue; we have to make them sustainable, irreversible.

So that people can have new hope.

And in order to do this, we have to be clear about one thing: there is no such thing as a “grand plan” that will cure Germany. Sometimes, I get the impression that some people are waiting for the big bang – after which everything will be good again. That’s not happening; it’s a dream, and it has nothing to do with real politics.

What we have to achieve is the right combination of numerous necessary steps. That’s the success principle we have followed thus far. And that’s the success principle we must use in moving forward. We are taking many small steps in the right direction.

Yes, it’s true: we are governing in a coalition with the Social Democrats. That’s a simple fact. But we have to keep telling ourselves: without us, there wouldn’t have been all those little steps in the right direction. But with us, with the Union, Germany is moving forward!

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