The election probably won’t change some major policy areas, including immigration and Germany’s close economic ties with China and Russia. But the outcome will shape some areas of domestic policy:
Taxes: Scholz wants higher taxes for the rich, proposing a three-point increase in the top tax rate, to 45 percent, and the reinstatement of a wealth tax. He has also called for a higher minimum wage, from the current policy of about $12 an hour to about $14.
Laschet opposes any tax increases, saying recently that it would be foolish to raise tax rates while the economy is recovering from the pandemic.
Social welfare: Pensions are an important issue in Germany, where the population skews old.
Scholz has vowed not to raise the retirement age any further. (It’s almost 66 and will go up to 67 by 2031, which is unpopular with Germans.) Laschet said during a recent debate that keeping the threshold at 67, rather than moving it higher, “will be at the expense of young people.”
Climate: Scholz’s party has vowed to address global warming by introducing a nationwide speed limit — of 130 kilometers an hour (or about 81 miles an hour) — and increasing the number of electric vehicles. Laschet has offered fewer climate specifics and instead emphasized the need to protect jobs. Both support the phasing out of coal by 2038, which climate experts have said is too late.
Though the Greens have made little headway in the race, both major parties have said they would govern with them in a coalition. That means that global warming will probably be a prominent issue for the next government.
Infrastructure: Scholz’s agenda has a lot in common with President Biden’s. Each wants to increase taxes on the rich to pay for what he describes as vital investments in his country’s future. Among other things, Scholz has called for the construction of about 100,000 units of subsidized housing to address a shortage of affordable homes.