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20 hours of crisis meeting and no agreement: the German coalition gets mired in its discrepancies


The leaders of the three parties meet again on Tuesday to try to smooth things over and move forward with the budget

The greens, walking.

Liberals, by car.

The leaders of the two parties that make up the German government coalition with Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats at the helm arrived at the Chancellery at half past six on Sunday afternoon.

They had several hours of nightly negotiations ahead of them in what is known as a coalition committee, a format at the highest level that is called when its members disagree.

That is, a crisis meeting.

On Monday morning they were expected to present the agreements, but instead, and after 20 hours of talks, they announced a recess until Tuesday.

“It is very unusual.

The usual thing is that throughout the night they solve their discrepancies.

As far as I can remember, the coalition partners have never needed a second day,” says Uwe Jun, professor of political science at the University of Trier.

The meeting of the leadership of the three parties occurs at a time of maximum tension that begins to make the work of the Executive very uphill.

The partners collide on countless issues, from the fight against climate change to security, going through social benefits such as the basic allowance per child.

Almost all the discrepancies end up converging on one: public spending.

The next budget pits Scholz's junior partners against each other.

On the one hand, the greens, who want to speed up the transition to a decarbonized economy;

on the other, the liberals of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who have made the banner of fiscal stability.

The Social Democrats, in the middle, acting as arbitrators.

A few days ago the leader of the Liberals and Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, canceled by surprise a press conference called to present the main lines of the budget.

The appointment has been postponed

sine die

between accusations to the other members of the coalition of spendthrifts.

The message is clear: there is no money for everything.

Lindner has called for cuts from all departments, which has especially angered environmentalists, who need funds to carry out their policies.

The tension around the plan to prohibit the installation of new gas or diesel heating from 2024 is a good example of the climate in which the tripartite works.

The intention of the Minister of Economy and Climate, the green Robert Habeck, to promote the installation of heat pumps in this way was leaked to the tabloid press and generated enormous controversy.

The liberals immediately came out to say that the bans do not solve anything and the social democrats were concerned about the cost that the installation of much more expensive systems could entail for low-income families.

Habeck, very upset with the leak, complained in an interview that it had been deliberate and with the aim of boycotting the internal negotiation, which had not yet concluded.

He went so far as to suggest that the tip-off had been given by the liberals.

They also responded angrily, with one of their deputies wondering on Twitter if it had not been Habeck himself.

Public scuffles that generally dislike Germans.

Soon after, Habeck promised grants for low- and middle-income families.

That is, public funds that he has to release to his colleague Lindner.

In parallel, the Liberals, who continue to refuse to set a speed limit on the highways, have their own spending priorities.

They intend to promote an investment plan in new roads that clashes with the mobility policies of their green partners, focused on improving the railway and public transport.

Environmentalists also want to approve an improvement in the basic allowance per child that would add more zeros to the social benefits item.

Lindner refuses to raise taxes and increase the deficit.

Foreign policy and security

Added to budget issues is disagreement on foreign and security policy.

The Scholz government has not yet presented its new national security strategy, the draft of which has been moving among ministries at least since the beginning of the year.

The main question is how to deal with China.

The tripartite plans also included the creation of a National Security Council that would coordinate the different departments and offer a single voice.

Finally, it has been ruled out because the partners did not agree on whether it should depend on the Foreign Ministry, in the hands of Annalena Baerbock, the Greens, or the Foreign Ministry.

“Scholz is in a very delicate position.

He is in the middle of two partners who are very different and who are difficult to agree on, ”Jun points out in a telephone conversation.

And he, too, cannot abuse the use of the


, literally the word of power, the chancellor's power to impose his criteria in the event that the negotiation fails.

He had to do it in the case of nuclear power, which he once again pitted against greens and liberals.

"He cannot use that prerogative often because he would give the impression of being a weak leader who is not capable of reaching an agreement with his partners," adds the political scientist.

"We have made good progress," said Scholz on Monday in Rotterdam, during a visit to the Netherlands with several ministers from his government, who left the Chancellery directly by helicopter in order to arrive on time for the appointment.

"And we have reached agreements," he added, without elaborating.

The foreign minister pointed out that the party leaders have talked about the modernization of the country.

“For many decades everything has gone too slowly.

That has to change, and it will change, ”he stressed.

There is a widespread impression among the Greens that Scholz is siding with the liberals rather than his own.

A recent example is the conflict with the European Union over the law that sets the end of combustion engines for 2035. The chancellor allowed the Minister of Transport, the liberal Volker Wissing, to block the final approval of the standard at the last moment. , negotiated for two years and which had the approval of Berlin.

The liberals try to set an agenda and define their own profile that reconciles them with their voters.

They are sunk in the polls and have fared poorly in every regional election held since they took part in the coalition government.

A coalition that, despite the many disputes, is not in danger, says Jun. First, because there is no real alternative, and second, because nobody is interested in going to elections again: “They depend on each other;

They will have to agree."

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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