Schulz’s Socialists pledge hard line on domestic security

Chancellor candidate and leader of the German Social Democratic Party Martin Schulz leaves the stage after his joint news conference with former Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia Hannelore Kraft. SPD headquarters, 15 May. [Felipe Trueba/ EPA]

Two days after Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) lost a crucial state election, the party has pledged to take a harder line on internal security, as it gambles on the issue playing a prominent role in September’s election. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

Martin Schulz’s party wants to win the upcoming German election by taking a hard line on domestic policy. “Security is a central need of people,” according to the SPD’s draft election manifesto. Over the course of 67 pages, the party reveals it is committed to a strong, capable state that takes decisive action against crime, extremism and terror.

The text was sent yesterday (16 May) to party members, two days after the SPD suffered a big loss in Martin Schulz’s home state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Dissatisfaction with internal security in Germany’s most populous region played a large role in the defeat.

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The party has now pledged “more security in everyday life”. Authorities have been called upon to tackle day-to-day crime “through more prevention and effective prosecution”.

If the SPD were to win September’s election, “15,000 new positions with regional and federal police forces” are planned. These new personnel would be tasked with focusing on “criminal assault, vandalism, theft and, above all, burglaries”.

The SPD also wants to extend the level of counselling services offered by the police to citizens. Video surveillance, a controversial issue within the party and Germany itself, would also be increased: “Where video technology can help prevent threats and record evidence, it should be used.”

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The SPD also want to crack down on radical Islamists and hate preachers. A “zero tolerance policy” has been put forward to deal with the issue. An SPD-led government would “close down extreme Islamic mosques and cut their financing”.

In principle, foreign citizens that commit serious crimes in Germany “should be promptly deported after serving out their sentence”.

Clearly, the SPD is preparing for an election campaign in which internal security will play a significant role. Germans have traditionally favoured the Angela Merkel’s CDU and its CSU partner when it comes to security matters.

But the SPD’s security analysts heavily criticised Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) yesterday (16 May). “In terms of refugee policy and growing the police force, we have had to hound de Maizière,” Eva Högl told Der Tagesspiegel. Fellow analyst Burkhard Lischka said that the interior minister has “seriously neglected to strengthen domestic security in Germany”.

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