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FACTBOX - German parties' election policies
REUTERS - Germany's parties are campaigning for an election on Sept. 27 which could usher in a new coalition. Polls show Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives (CDU/CSU) may win enough votes to form a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
Below is a comparison of the leading parties' policies, highlighting their contrasting positions on issues where there are major differences:
* CDU/CSU - Reject tax increases and call for a two-step cut in the lowest income tax bracket to 12 percent from 14 percent. Want to raise the threshold for highest regular income tax rate of 42 percent to 60,000 euros ($84,320) from 52,552 euros.
* SPD (Social Democrats) - Want to cut the lowest income tax rate to 10 percent from 14 percent. Would raise the top tax rate -- including a "rich tax" for the super wealthy -- to 47 percent from 45 percent. Would tax stockmarket trades of 1,000 euros or more at a rate of 0.5 percent or 1.5 percent.
* FDP (Free Democrats) - Plan tax cuts aimed at families and middle income earners worth up to 35 billion euros. The party wants to simplify the tax system and shift to a three-band system, with rates of 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent.
* GREENS - Want to raise regular top tax rate to 45 percent from 42 percent. Plan sales tax on financial transactions to prevent speculation.
* LEFT PARTY - Want a "redistribution from the top to the bottom". Only incomes of above 12,000 euros per year should be taxed and the top tax rate should be raised to 53 percent. Wants a "millionaire's tax" on private wealth.
* CDU/CSU - Support a minimum income for all in Germany and urge a "stabilisation" of non-wage labour costs and better security for workers who lose their jobs due to economic crisis.
* SPD - Aim to create 4 million jobs by 2020. Want binding minimum wages for as many sectors as possible, and preferably a general minimum wage. The SPD would try to retain Germany's industrial base and sees the biggest opportunities in green technology.
* FDP - Want to strengthen the so-called "Mittelstand" small- and medium-sized businesses that form the backbone of the German economy; propose business tax rates of 10 and 25 percent compared to just under 30 percent now. Rules on protecting workers from dismissal would be loosened. Want a comprehensive programme of privatisations.
* GREENS - A million new jobs should be created by investment and financial incentives.
* LEFT PARTY - Private banks should be nationalised; employees should have a larger stake in their companies; mass layoffs at firms not facing insolvency should be banned.
* CDU/CSU - Against Turkey joining the EU. Germany should continue its participation in NATO's mission in Afghanistan.
* SPD - Should leave open the possibility of Turkey joining the EU. Chancellor candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said Germany should start thinking about when to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.
* FDP - Stress the need for global disarmament and back the Afghanistan mission but some members have called for a pullout plan for German soldiers.
* GREENS - Have moved away from their pacifist roots and broadly back the Afghanistan mission. Support Turkey's EU bid and favour tough line on human rights with Russia and China.
* LEFT PARTY - Against German troops serving in foreign combat missions and wants them out of Afghanistan.
* CDU/CSU - See nuclear energy as a crucial part of a proper energy mix. Existing nuclear plants judged safe should have their lifespans extended. No new nuclear plants should be built.
* SPD - Would keep its policy of phasing out nuclear energy. The SPD wants Germany to cut its dependence on oil imports, and get half of its power from renewable sources by 2030.
* FDP - Support the extension of the lifespans of safe nuclear plants but favour long-term switch to renewables.
* GREENS - By 2020, reduce CO2 emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels. By 2020, at least 40 percent of electricity from renewable energies.
* LEFT PARTY - Support phase-out of nuclear power.
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