[. . .] Over the past few years, we have not only achieved greater unity in the party, we have also refocused the image of the Social Democrats.footnote1 In recent times, throughout the years of Kohl’s government, something has gone missing from our society—something which is essential for the proper functioning of society. I am speaking of a sense of public spiritedness, a sense of social responsibility, a sense of social justice. In the light of all the mistakes of the recent past, it has become necessary to announce once more the fact that a large party exists that, like no other party, absolutely insists on upholding social justice. There is a large party that says ‘yes’ to protection against wrongful dismissal in the workplace, a party that says ‘yes’ to the continued payment of wages when workers fall ill, a party that says ‘yes’ to earnings-related unemployment benefit and fights against any reductions, that says ‘yes’ to income support and fights against reductions. We want a country where social justice rules. That is why we are the German Social Democratic Party.
The coming election has to be about a change of policy. It must be about a change of direction. Social justice no longer rules in our country. Social responsibility has been forfeited. Let me give you two examples.
First example: not so long ago there was a discussion about whether here, just as in America, the goal of a business should be to increase the value of shares in that enterprise. Such an example shows the extent to which our society has lost its way spirituallyfootnote2 over the last few years. Actually the primary goal of business is not to increase share values. The goal of business is, first and foremost, to bear a social responsibility for the work-force entrusted to it. Indeed, the goal of business is to bear a social responsibility for society as a whole.
Another example: it is no coincidence that ever fewer training places are on offer to young people. This too is connected to our spiritual orientation. It relates to a situation in which considerations of cost are put first, and the humane values of our civil society are essentially neglected. A society that allows young people, at the beginning of their working lives, to be chucked on the scrap heap is not a humane society. That is why we want to change it, comrades.
To demonstrate this much-needed change of policy, the first thing I want to speak about is international cooperation. The fostering of interna-tional cooperation is a part of our tradition. Our party’s fundamental principles cannot be defined in a regional or a national context alone. Solidarity—a key value—is a global value. It cannot be portioned out just to Länder or regions. That’s why we are the party of social and inter-national cooperation. We intend to make international cooperation the hallmark of a future federal government led by the spd.