Angela Merkel: 'We need to elicit a yearning for the sea, a need to build'

From an election address by the leader of the German Christian Democrats, given at a party conference in Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia

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The Red-Green alliance is not a government on which our citizens can build and our country can grow stronger. On the contrary: the Red-Green alliance has made the country weaker: 5 million people are without jobs; everyday we lose 1,000 social security-contributing jobs; 40,000 firms go bankrupt every year; the Government is running up debt to the tune of €6m (£4.1m) every hour; and a million children must live off state support.

The country has become colder. Red-Green politics has split the country and its people further apart. Almost everywhere else in Europe the weaker members of society have better chances. The efforts at bringing East Germany into the fold are at a standstill and the rift between East and West is growing again.

I believe the country is ready for new politics. The election on 18 September is a real chance to change direction. The claim of the Union is: We want to fundamentally change things to make them fundamentally better! This fundamental change means knowing where one is going. There is a beautiful quote by St Exupery: "When one is building a ship, one does not begin with gathering timber and cutting planks, but rather by arousing in people the yearning for the great wide sea."

We need to elicite this yearning for the sea, this yearning to build, like in the Grunderjahren of the republic [the 1871-1873 period when many industrial firms were founded], where all are swept along. We in Germany need once again a solid idea of our goal. When you have a clear goal in front of you, it draws you towards it. And when you are yourself achieving something you win over the confidence of others. We, the Union, are standing up for oppportunity and confidence as the answer to the Left's helplessness.

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