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1 year of traffic light government: from the turning point to the double boom to...?


The traffic light wanted to make Germany climate-friendly and future-proof, then came war and the energy crisis. What remains of the first year of government. And what's to come.

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They had big things in mind for the country: a year ago, on December 7, 2021, Olaf Scholz, Robert Habeck and Christian Lindner presented the red-green-yellow coalition agreement.

A day later, the government is sworn in in the Bundestag and is thus officially in office.

Their leitmotif: Dare to make more progress.

Even on old issues, she seems willing to compromise at first.

Christian Teevs, DER SPIEGEL:

» Right from the start,

the traffic light saw itself as a progressive coalition.

Wanted to do many things differently after years of standstill in the grand coalition.

They have set themselves very ambitious goals, i.e. to produce CO2-neutral much earlier, to achieve a CO2-neutral economy in Germany.

They want to legalize cannabis, things that could not have been imagined with the Union, in this alliance they should go.

There was also a certain amount of euphoria among the parties involved.


But then everything turns out differently: On February 24, Vladimir Putin's troops invade Ukraine.

The new German chancellor found clear words for this in his government statement.

Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor:


Ladies and gentlemen, in view of the turning point that Putin's aggression means, our benchmark is: whatever is needed to secure peace in Europe will be done.

Germany will make its contribution in solidarity.

However, it is not enough to state this clearly and unequivocally today.

Because the Bundeswehr needs new, strong capabilities for this.


And these should be financed: With the beginning of the war, German politics also changed radically - what previously seemed unthinkable suddenly became possible, especially in the area of ​​armaments and the military.

Christian Teevs, DER SPIEGEL:


One hundred billion special funds for the Bundeswehr, recognition of NATO's two percent target – as far as defense spending is concerned.

That was really a shift where you could see: Okay, Germany is making a U-turn in its foreign and security policy.

This also changed the whole basis of the traffic light.


Another consequence of the Russian war of aggression: gas and thus also electricity are becoming significantly more expensive.

So expensive that parts of the government are considering running three nuclear power plants longer than planned in order to secure the energy supply.

Now there is a fight, the mood is bad.

Christian Teevs, DER SPIEGEL:


The Greens, especially Economics Minister Habeck, initially opposed it, also with the support of Scholz.

And they said: no, we don't need that, it's not necessary.

And the FDP has insisted very strongly and has repeatedly emphasized that this has to happen.

This dispute between Lindner and Habeck escalated to such an extent, even beyond the Lower Saxony state elections, that in the end Scholz had to speak his mind and make use of his policy competence, something totally unusual.

He then instructed the responsible ministers to let these three nuclear power plants run for three months longer.

And April is really the end of it for good.


In the end, both Habeck and Lindner accepted this solution.

However, the prices for electricity and gas continue to rise, the traffic light government is reacting – again the chancellor is trying to find the right vocabulary, this time via video link due to the corona.

Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor:


I once said on another occasion: The measures that we are taking are a bang.

You could say it's a double boom here.

It should contribute to the fact that the prices for energy are now falling quickly, quickly and for everyone to see quickly.

So that nobody has to worry when thinking about autumn and winter.

When he thinks about Christmas and next year and the bill.


Christian Teevs, DER SPIEGEL:


The solution that the traffic light parties and essentially then Scholz, Lindner and Habeck then sought was the so-called double boom: taking 200 billion euros in hand for the next three four years, where the worst consequences of this energy price crisis should really be mitigated.

It has to be said that the coalition was undergoing a stress test.

There was a great deal of anger over the gas surcharge, which the coalition had first introduced, which would have meant an additional burden for consumers and which was then withdrawn in a relative act of hara-kiri."

Big chaos about a lot of money – the focus is on Finance Minister and FDP leader Christian Lindner.

He started with the promise to keep the black zero - and now has to explain one special issue after the other.

Christian Lindner, Federal Minister of Finance:


The draft for the 2023 federal budget shows how the traffic light coalition would operate if there were no energy war and we were not in such an energy crisis.

There is no question that Germany will take out a very large number of loans next year because of the special fund for the Bundeswehr and because of the Economic and Stabilization Fund, from which we pay for the electricity and gas price brake.

But these are crisis-related expenses that we separate from our regular federal budget.


In 2023, the coalition wants to incur more than 45 billion euros in new debt.

And the traffic light is still under pressure: Inflation and skyrocketing energy prices are causing many Germans great concern, and according to surveys, many people are currently very dissatisfied with the government.

The hope of Red-Green-Yellow is that at least their most recent resolutions will be viewed positively by the voters - such as the further opening of the labor market for skilled workers from abroad.

Robert Habeck, Federal Minister of Economics:


It was really good teamwork.

I am firmly convinced that this key issues paper and this law could only come about in this government constellation.

It is a law that points forward, that aggressively promotes a society of many and says: We also need skilled workers from other regions of the world.

So thank you for the good cooperation.


Christian Teevs, DER SPIEGEL:


The minimum wage has been increased to twelve euros.

The citizens' allowance, the abolition of Hartz IV, was finally implemented despite some disputes with the Union.

So the coalition has pushed through important projects.

It was a very difficult year of crisis, in which the coalition often seemed divided.

What matters now is that they pull themselves together a bit.

And make sure that they talk less about each other and try to solve the problems together.


Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-12-08

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