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The concept of a maximum programme comes from the Erfurt Programme of the SPD, later mirrored by much of the Socialist International. The maximum is contrasted with a minimum programme of immediate social demands. In the short term, parties were to pursue only the minimum programme of achievable demands, which would improve the lives of workers until the inevitable collapse of capitalism. These groups believed that the achievement of a minimum programme would enable them to become mass parties and pursue their maximum programme.
The Communist International developed the alternative idea of transitional slogans, seeing the minimum/maximum division as leaving social democratic parties always campaigning only for their minimum programme and not clearly planning a route to achieve their maximum programme, though the eventual Programme was more in line with a maximum programme than with transitional slogans.