Full Speed Ahead: Progress in 2022+ – A Decade for a Just Transformation

SPD, Greens and FDP as parties of progress

Summary

After 16 years of watching and waiting, and in the face of enormous expectations, a new coalition government must quickly launch a new political era with a clear focus on the future.

In the new position paper “Full Speed Ahead: Progress in 2022+”, experts at Das Progressive Zentrum define the criteria for current progressive politics in Germany and detail the core components of a social-green-liberal narrative of unity.

SPD, Greens und FDP as parties of progress

Despite all of their differences, the coalition partners are united by their focus on progress in its various facets, and by the idea of liberal, enabling, dynamic, renewal-oriented and forward-looking politics.

The guiding formula for this social-green-liberal renewal can be a contemporary interpretation of the concept of freedom as a central component of a modern liberalism, that is, a regulative or “embedding” liberalism.

The traffic light parties (the red SPD, the green Greens, and the yellow FDP, the colors together forming a traffic light) will have to formulate shared political goals on the basis of a new common self-image and embed them in a coherent narrative. To this end, the authors of the position paper regard a transformation that includes all parts of society as an appropriate objective.

The three I’s: Innovation, Investment and Integration

Following the ideas of Wolfgang Schroeder, we propose to place the concepts of “innovation”, “investment” and “integration” – in short, the three I’s – at the heart of this endeavour.

Innovation

The new government must be a government of innovation that promotes technical innovations, leads by example and reforms the state itself. Accordingly, the debate between “more” and “less” state needs to be resolved – it should first and foremost focus on the question of the better, the faster, the social and the collaborative state.

  • The culture of administration and digitalisation as important leverage to shape a socially acceptable form of climate policy
  • Establishment of an international climate club (of the willing) and proposals to support countries in the global south on the path to climate neutrality
  • Voting rights from the age of 16, an advisory council for future-related matters or an ombudsperson for future generations

Investments

Policies of innovation and renewal are only possible with massive investments: on the one hand, in the infrastructure that delivers the fundamental services that form the “basis of quality of life for all”; on the other hand, in an infrastructure for climate-neutral and environmentally sound economic activity. The goal must be to achieve equal living conditions in cities and rural areas.

  • Increasing the financial leeway of the municipalities, for instance, by reforming tax splitting, introducing bonus systems with social and economic indicators, or taking over old debts of structurally weak regions
  • Giving citizens on the ground more influence and a greater say by granting more direct influence in the form of committees that have the right to make proposals and which represent broad sections of regional society
  • Investments in broadband and mobile phone networks, the infrastructure of charging points for electric vehicles, energy and power grids, fast and reactivated railway lines, and in networked forms of mobility

Integration

Today, Germany’s future will not any longer be solely determined by economic issues significantly linked to the combating of the climate crisis – but will also be determined by ensuring that political reforms do not divide society even further. Economic success, social cohesion, ecological politics, individual freedom – all these goals can only be reached if there is trust within society, if we push back against discrimination and racism, if we are open to different kinds of personal backgrounds and – on this foundation – if we discuss and accept shared ground rules.

  • The welfare state must be scrutinised in terms of its financing, access, infrastructure and benefits, particularly regarding the pensions system, the labour market, and in terms of the care and health sectors.
  • The introduction of the so-called equity pension scheme could be the herald of a paradigm shift that will bring dividends in the future. 
  • Commitment to anti-discrimination measures and a liberal immigration law as well as a new concept of family that takes into account the diversity in German society

A coalition that can make a difference

If we want to live in comfort and security tomorrow, we must get things moving today: people in Germany are ready to dare a new beginning that they have long known is necessary and right. What is needed is progress with a sense of proportion and pragmatism. If the progressive coalition is successful in this regard, it could become an alliance for the new beginning:

  1. as a coalition for innovation 
  2. as a coalition for effective climate policy and protection of biodiversity
  3. as a coalition for a modern state
  4. as a coalition committed to helping the disadvantaged
  5. as a coalition of an open-minded society
  6. as a coalition of recognition and participation
  7. as a coalition that understands itself as player and beacon in the international arena

The decisive factor will be if change is achieved with discursive and respectful cooperation, instead of with the implementation of a technocratic strategy. If the new coalition government can do so – and at a rapid pace – they will not only be able to win future elections, but also strengthen the trust in the State’s ability to act as well as in democracy.

Authors

Paulina Fröhlich

Head of Resilient Democracy
Paulina Fröhlich leads our Resilient Democracy team. She directs innovative dialogue projects, such as "Europa Hört", designs and curates Innocracy, a conference on democratic transformation, and co-authors discussion papers, such as "Glotzt nicht so romantisch" and the study "Die Talkshow-Gesellschaft".
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Dominic Schwickert

Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum
Dominic Schwickert has been Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum since 2012. He has proven expertise in the field of political and strategic consulting. Dominic worked i.a. for Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Bertelsmann Stiftung, IFOK GmbH, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, German Bundestag as well as for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
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Michael Miebach is the Chair and Co-Founder of Das Progressive Zentrum. He studied political science at the universities of Göttingen and Berlin, as well as European Social Policy at the London School of Economics. Until 2017, he served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the magazine "Berliner Republik". He works as a policy advisor at the German national parliament "Bundestag".

Katarina Niewiedzial

Member of the Board
Katarina Niewiedzial is a Member of the Board of Das Progressive Zentrum. She serves as the Commissioner for Integration and Migration of the state of Berlin. From 2007 to 2014, she led Das Progressive Zentrum as the founding executive director. Katarina Niewiedzial studied political science and economics in Berlin, Limerick (Ireland) and Oldenburg.

Dr. Florian Ranft

Head of Green New Deal
Florian Ranft is Head of Programme Economic and Social Transformation and focuses on inclusive growth and the future of work. In previous capacities, he was Head of Policy and International at Policy Network, and a former Senior Research Analyst at the Centre for Progressive Policy, both think tanks based in London.
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Judith Siller

Second Chair
Judith Siller is the Second Chair of Das Progressive Zentrum. She studied economics at the University of Potsdam. Judith Siller lived in England, Chile and France. For many years, she has been working on the topics European Union as well as Monetary, Economic and Social Union. She serves as an editor for the magazine "polar".

Thomas Kralinski

Member of the Board
Thomas Kralinski is Member of the Board and Co-Founder of Das Progressive Zentrum. He studied political science, economics and East European studies at the universities of Leipzig and Manchester. For the past several years, he served as Head of the State Chancellery and State Secretary for Federal Affairs, Media, Digitalisation and International Relations for the government of the German state of Brandenburg.

Content

Summary
Authors

Paulina Fröhlich

Head of Resilient Democracy

Dominic Schwickert

Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum

Katarina Niewiedzial

Member of the Board

Dr. Florian Ranft

Head of Green New Deal

Judith Siller

Second Chair

Thomas Kralinski

Member of the Board

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