The German federal elections of September 26 left a highly fragmented parliamentary scene. The two great historical parties of the country, the Social Democrats of the SPD and the conservative union of the CDU-CSU, fell far short of a majority that would allow them to form a government with the support of a single partner. This forces the formation of a tripartite, the first at the federal level since the 1950s in the Federal Republic. The ecoliberals of Los Verdes and the liberal-conservatives of the FDP advanced electorally and become decisive for the next governing coalition. These are the main keys to understanding the current political moment in Germany:
Who are currently trading?
The SPD Social Democrats they won the elections with 26.4% of the votes. A result that improves their situation and allows them to lead the attempts to form a Government. Their candidate, Acting Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, is aiming to become the next federal chancellor. To do this, it has managed to bring Los Verdes and the FDP to the negotiating table.
This Wednesday, the 22 working groups – made up of no less than 300 participants – in which the complex conversations are organized, met for the first time. There are seven blocks: modernization of the State and digitization, climate protection, the world of work, family, freedom-security, foreign policy-defense and public finances. They are expected to negotiate until November 10.
The so-called ‘Traffic Light Coalition’ – because of the colors of the three parties – is, therefore, the option with the greatest possibilities. The three parties have been showing good harmony and willingness to sign a pact for weeks. Secrecy, however, accompanies negotiations that are not without obstacles.
What are the main obstacles?
After the first exploratory conversations, SPD, Verdes and FDP agreed to a document of minimums in which they present the main lines of what should be the new German Government. That preliminary 12-page agreement is the foundation on which to build a “social-eco-liberal” government, in the words of Olaf Scholz.
The path is not, however, easy. Especially marked are the differences between Los Verdes and the FDP. Fiscal policy and the fight against the climate crisis are the main workhorses. While the former bet on a greater weight of the State, the liberals believe that the market is the best way to find solutions. In fact, the FDP’s big red line to negotiate was the commitment not to raise taxes, accepted by the SPD and the Greens. Regarding the climate issue, the liberal-conservatives believe that the best way to reduce CO2 emissions is to promote private innovation, while the Greens and the SPD are committed to greater interventionism by public power. The Ministry of Finance is also a desired portfolio by environmentalists and FDP.
Although minority, there are already discordant voices within the eco-liberal party that criticize that the FDP is setting the agenda for the negotiations in a good way, despite being the formation with the fewest votes of the three.
Until when do the German parties have to form a new government?
The German Constitution does not establish a specific period of time for the election of the new Chancellor. Article 69 of the Basic set decrees that, once the new Bundestag is constituted, the federal president must ask the former head of government to take charge of the country on an interim basis, waiting for the negotiations between parties to come to fruition and the Bundestag to offer a parliamentary majority to elect the new chancellor.
After the 2017 elections, the parties needed 171 days to reach an agreement with which to re-elect Angela Merkel as head of office. Never before has the Federal Republic had an interim government for so long.
When will Germany have a new chancellor?
The express objective of the SPD, Los Verdes and the FDP is to present the Government agreement at the end of November. The agreement will then have to be approved in an extraordinary congress of the liberals and in a consultation between the ecological bases. The SPD has not yet specified what its internal ratification process will be. If the plans go as expected, the Bundestag could elect Olaf Scholz as the new federal chancellor on December 6. Germany would thus have a new government before the end of the year.