The current party platform of the SPD espouses the goal of social democracy, which is seen as a vision of a societal arrangement in which freedom and social justice are paramount. According to the party platform, freedom, justice, and social solidarity, form the basis of social democracy. The coordinated social market economy should be strengthened, and its output should be distributed fairly. The party sees that economic system as necessary in order to ensure the affluence of the entire population. The SPD also tries to protect the society's disadvantaged with a welfare state. Concurrently, it advocates a sustainable fiscal policy that doesn't place a burden on future generations while eradicating budget deficits. In social policy, the SPD stands for civil rights in an open society. In foreign policy, the SPD aims at ensuring global peace by balancing global interests with democratic means. Thus, European integration is one of the main priorities of the SPD.
The SPD is mostly composed of members belonging to either of the two main wings: keynesian, left-wing, social democrats, and the centrist, moderate social democrats belonging to the Seeheimer Kreis. While the moderate, Seeheimer Kreis social democrats strongly support the reformist programs introduced by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the keynesian, left-wing social democrats continue to defend classically left-wing policies such as the expansion of the welfare state. The classically left-wing of the SPD claims that in recent years the welfare state has been curtailed through reform programs such as the Agenda 2010 and the more economically liberal stance of the SPD, which was endorsed by the moderate social democrats.