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Traffic light before the summer break: what did you do?

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Status: 06.07.2022 09:22

The war in Europe advances politics. The summer parliamentary recess is now approaching – and the question remains: what has the traffic light coalition actually achieved? And which party is currently where? An interim report.

Of Nicole Kohnert, Kristin Schwietzer, Frank Jahn and Christian Feld, ARD capital studio

“We are never offended and never hysterical” – Olaf Scholz’s mantra sounds promising. The message behind it: “We care. A “steady hand” policy rules here when it’s stormy outside. But the mantra seems to be moving away from government these days. The Chancellor often seemed hesitant, touched, and Scholz sometimes reacted irritably to criticism. The storm outside is huge.

The challenge, as Scholz himself says, is historic. A war in the middle of Europe brings the newly elected traffic light coalition to its limits early on. It’s about arms deliveries, rising energy prices and quick relief for the population. The to-do list will have to wait. But how is the balance sheet of the traffic light?

SPD parliamentary group leader Matthias Miersch still sees the SPD as an anchor of stability

Image: dpa


The SPD in particular felt it. Many wishes, social projects that are particularly important to the left wing of the party have to wait. Basic child safety or the planned Citizen’s Allowance, successor to Hartz IV, are being considered but have not yet been implemented. The war in Ukraine is driving up the price spiral. And the harder the high prices hit the population, the more pressure there is on many social democrats to actually implement the social promises, to stand out more at red lights.

The SPD had begun this new period of very united government. The Social Democrats saw themselves primarily as a stabilizer at traffic lights, as a mediating partner between the Greens and the Liberals. They also openly praise “their” SPD Chancellor, who does not get carried away and makes careful decisions. They still accept criticism of Scholz’s meager communication style. The Chancellor’s keeping her protective hand on Finance Minister Linder and the agreed debt brake have so far been tolerated. But today impatience grows in times of energy insecurity. Calls to suspend the debt brake are increasingly heard.

SPD party leader Saskia Esken even openly doubts compliance with the debt brake. General Secretary Kevin Kühnert also criticizes such “budgetary restrictions” and the fact that options such as the wealth tax are not used.

SPD parliamentary group leader Matthias Miersch still sees the SPD as an anchor for stability, but is worried about summer time and warns of social imbalances. He hopes issues such as basic security will keep moving forward. According to Miersch, their financing will trigger one or another debate with the coalition partners. A pointer in the direction of the FDP.

Deputy FDP Johannes Vogel – For the FDP, coalition also means compromise

Image: dpa


“I lack imagination,” said Christian Lindner before the legislative elections, when asked about a coalition with the SPD and the Greens. The unimaginable has been unfolding for six months now, and the start of the traffic light has been a success from the FDP’s point of view. The coalition deal is often called the “Yellow Pages” in Berlin because the Liberals were able to squeeze a lot into it: no tax hikes, a return to the debt brake and no speed limit. The FDP registered the corona policy as the first success in parliament. Under pressure from the Liberal Democrats, violations of fundamental rights are lifted.

“The FDP in government is already making a difference in terms of responsibility for the design,” deputy FDP Johannes Vogel summed up in the ADR capital studio: “Without us, the debt brake would probably already be a thing of the past. In the energy crisis, the red light accelerates the planning process – see LNG terminals. For the FDP, a plan against the ” bureaucratic rampage threatening prosperity in Germany”.

So all is well with the Free Democrats? no Coalition means compromise. Corona and war mean new debts. Finance Minister Lindner must release billions for the Bundeswehr and for huge relief programs. The opposition accuses him of budget trickery as Lindner reallocates unused pandemic funds to a climate fund. It hurts the minister’s image. Strong finances are the essence of the FDP brand. This is probably one of the reasons why Lindner vehemently insists on compliance with the debt brake: “We just can’t afford any more debt. This is Germany’s cash position. But it is also about the financial policy promises made by the FDP and whether the once unimaginable risk of traffic lights will ultimately pay off for them.

Omid Nouripour draws up a positive intermediate traffic light report

Image: dpa

The green

For the Greens, the calculation seems to work. The Greens-Spitzer publicly draw a provisional positive traffic light report. What is Co-Chair Omid Nouripour proud of in partner cooperation so far, where is there still room for improvement? “We fixed a few things.” He refers to previous relief packages, the renewable energy legislative package. The ban on abortion advertising was also “very, very important” to his party. But the FDP Minister of Justice also gave a “great” speech.

“It’s still rumbling in some places,” Nouripour says, but immediately adds that it’s “completely normal” in a coalition that has never existed before. Katharina Dröge, parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag, believes that public discourse on the different paths is part of it: “It’s important that you end up finding someone and that you act together, and that’s what we have do.”

Given the current numbers, the Greens have little to complain about. They have just signed coalition agreements in Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia. In national opinion polls, the party is in second place behind the Union. Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock lead the satisfaction ranking. The Greens have had to set aside fundamental positions since the start of the war against Ukraine. Asking for gas from the Emir of Qatar, delivering heavy weapons to a war zone – the leadership of the Greens was ready for 180 degree turns. We didn’t hear too many grunts at the base. Realpolitik currently seems to have no alternative.

Friedrich Merz – the leader of the Union faction knows his role and he likes to push it to the limit.

Image: dpa

And the main opposition party?

What the fire does not illuminate, the leader of the opposition exploits without pity. Scholz does not go to Ukraine immediately after the start of the war. Friedrich Merz is already rushing. Traffic light is not majority for heavy weapons shipments. Merz is there and shakes hands for a joint candidacy. In return, the demands of the Union are met – for example, that the funds go only to the Bundeswehr.

The Union faction leader knows his role and likes to push it to the limit. It’s obviously good for their own faction. After 16 years on the government bench, many had already forgotten how the opposition works. “We have to do something there.” Such phrases were first heard more frequently from the CDU and CSU. Willingly accompanied by the subordinate clause. “Oh, nonsense…it’s not our turn anymore.” Meanwhile, many EU politicians have accepted their position, albeit reluctantly. Now it’s about phrases like. “The traffic light must deliver.” Or “We are waiting for the invoice.” Merz reduced his faction to attack. Merz sees this as constructive opposition. The polls and the regional elections won prove him right.

But the path through the opposition for the CDU and the CSU will not be easy. Above all, the CDU must renew itself in opposition. Between women’s quota, climate protection and pressure from the economic wing, it may be uncomfortable for Merz at one time or another. Not everyone in the Union likes too many social concessions.

More recently, the leader of the parliamentary group had to abstain from the yes announced to the minimum wage in parliament, under the impetus of the economic wing. He will continue to pay close attention to the direction Merz is taking with the CDU. Not an easy task for the parliamentary group and party leader. Taunt inward, taunt outward. The Union found itself in opposition, but it does not want to stop there.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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