Negotiations for the formation of a new coalition government in Germany appear to be proceeding fairly quickly. On Thursday, just over a week before the elections, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Olaf Scholz, who obtained the relative majority of the votes, will meet with representatives of the Greens and the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP) to discuss the new government . If they were to reach an agreement, which is not at all obvious at the moment, the three parties could go together with the government at the federal level for the first time in the history of Germany.
However, the negotiations that are about to begin may not be conclusive: in Germany the government negotiations between the parties can last several months, especially if there were no large gaps between the political forces in the elections, as happened with the vote of the September 26.
The SPD had in fact obtained 25.7 percent of the votes, while the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the center-right party of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, 24.1: for both it was immediately clear that it would be necessary a coalition to govern, and that the most likely would have been the one that included the Greens and the FDP.
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Both Green leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck and FDP leader Christian Lindner said on Wednesday they had internal discussions within their respective parties and decided to start negotiating with the SPD to form a government: both added that they had ruled out the possibility of allying with the CDU. In the new parliament, the SPD will have 206 seats, which added to the 118 of the Greens and the 92 of the FDP would reach 412 and far exceed the threshold that indicates the absolute majority (368 seats out of 735 total).
The three parties – which would form the so-called “traffic light coalition”, with their respective colors – already govern together in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, but so far they have never reached a similar agreement at the federal level, also due to the presence of large program differences.
Greens and FDP have a similar electoral base, made up mostly of young people, residing in large cities and with a high degree of education. Both have progressive views on socio-cultural issues, such as human rights and gender equality, but express substantially different positions on other issues.
Green leaders Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck (John MacDougall / Pool via AP)
The new government’s economic policy will be at the center of Thursday’s talks: FDP president Christian Lindner has made it clear that in the case of a coalition government with the SPD and the Greens, he will want to be named the next finance minister. It is not clear, however, how Scholz will reconcile this request with the large differences in the economic field between the three parties.
During the election campaign, for example, Scholz proposed an increase in the minimum hourly wage and new taxes for the richest segment of the population to finance ambitious environmental transition projects, very sensitive in a country still quite dependent on coal plants like Germany. . From this point of view, the Greens are the closest ally to Scholz’s political ideas, as opposed to the FDP, which is historically opposed to tax increases.
Another point on which the Greens and the FDP are fundamentally disagree is the fight against climate change: regarding the goal shared by the European Commission of achieving the so-called “carbon neutrality” by 2050 – that is, being able to remove a lot of carbon dioxide (or other gas serra) as much as we throw into the atmosphere – the FDP is the German party with the least ambitious goals. On the contrary, the Greens aim to achieve carbon neutrality already by 2041 and among other things they hope to stop coal mining activities by 2030, eight years before the current limit.
Il leader dell’FDP Christian Lindner (Sebastian Kahnert / dpa via AP)
Another big difference concerns workers’ wages: Scholz in the election campaign has repeatedly said that one of his party’s objectives will be to raise the minimum wage to 12 euros – currently at 9.60 euros and should rise to 10.45 euros a starting from July 2022 – and the Greens think like him too. The FDP, on the other hand, which is closer to the demands of German entrepreneurs, is against it.
The same difference of opinion concerns the lowering of housing prices and the contrast of the rise in rents (one of the problems most felt by the Germans in recent years). Both SPD and Verdi would like to lower housing prices to make them more affordable, while the FDP – which among other things had opposed the ceiling on rents imposed on Berlin in 2020 and subsequently judged illegitimate by the German Constitutional Court – is against any housing price regulation policy.