In the upcoming coalition talks in Germany, four political parties will have to negotiate a common plan for the next legislative period. Photo: Pixabay.

Coalition watch – The making of a new German government

In the wake of Germany’s general election, it looks like the country is headed towards a coalition of the conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the pro-business FDP, and the environmentalist Green Party. But negotiations to clinch this new government - dubbed “Jamaica coalition" because party colours match that country's flag - will prove difficult, as the parties’ stance on many issues including climate and energy vary widely. This regularly updated factsheet traces the progress of coalition building. [UPDATE - adds 18-19 Oct]

Find further details and analyses in the factsheets Climate & energy stumbling blocks for Jamaica-coalition talks, The long road to a new government coalition in Germany, and Vote2017: German parties' energy & climate policy positions.

The dossier Vote2017 – German elections and the Energiewende combines CLEW’s entire election coverage.

To keep track of the most recent developments, also check our daily News Digest and follow us on twitter  @cleanenergywire.

 

19 October

Coalition talks between CDU, CSU, FDP and Green Party will be about the parties’ ability “to make something constructive of the differences”, said chancellery chief and Christian Democrat Peter Altmaier in an interview with German public broadcaster ARD after the first round of talks. “Is it possible to reconcile the economy and the environment in a way that allows us to remain a successful economic nation, and still lead in international environment protection? That is one of the big core questions,” said Altmaier.

 

18 October

First talks "positive" - The first talks on forming a government coalition between CDU/CSU, FDP and Green Party were “positive”, party representatives said, according to an article by news agency Reuters. But they warned that there is still a long way to go. Merkel and her team met with FDP and Green Party politicians in separate sessions. Talks will continue on 19 October between the Greens and the FDP, before all parties jointly meet for the first time on Friday, 20 October.

 

16 October

Jürgen Trittin, Green parliamentarian and a member of the negotiating team to form a new federal government coalition, told German broadcasters ZDF and ARD after the Lower Saxony state vote on Sunday: “It’s always difficult to negotiate with weakened partners.” With a loss of 2.4 percentage points compared to the last state election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU won 33.6 percent of the votes in Lower Saxony, the Social Democrats (SPD) won with 36.9 percent. “That makes negotiations, it makes exploratory talks not easier, but more difficult,” said Trittin. In a separate article, news agency Reuters says the result further weakens Merkel as she prepares to negotiate a coalition with the Greens and the pro-business FDP. The CDU’s secretary general Peter Tauber noted that all three parties involved in national coalition talks had lost support in Lower Saxony but said he didn't see negotiations influenced by the result. “It wouldn’t be wise to think this will weigh us down,” he said.

 

13 October

75 percent of Germans expect upcoming talks between the CDU, CSU, FDP and the Greens to form a new government will be successful, according to a new Infratest dimap survey, commissioned by public broadcaster ARD. 57 percent of respondents rate such a coalition as good/very good.

Read the article in German here.

 

12 October

Merkel: 2020 climate target plays big role in upcoming coalition talks - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she does not give up the government’s goal to reduce CO₂ emissions by 40 percent by 2020, which would “play a big role” in the upcoming talks to form a new government coalition. On forming a Jamaica coalition, she said that "unusual constellations also hold the opportunity to find solutions to things that have previously appeared unsolvable."

Read the full article here.

 

11 October

Addressing a so-called ‘Jamaica coalition’ and a potential coal exit agreement, Michael Vassiliadis, head of the Trade Union for mining, chemicals and energy industries (IG BCE) said at a union conference: “There actually are fears that our people in the mining areas will have to foot the bill for the ‘Jamaica’ wedding party”. 

 

10 October

CDU & Greens' energy politicians clash over Germany's coal exit speed - One week before the start of exploratory talks on forming a government coalition, aspiring German government alliance partners CDU and the Green Party agree that the country will have to phase out coal-fired power production. Yet, two of the parties’ energy representatives argued over its speed and shape at an event in Berlin. The Greens’ Julia Verlinden says a coal exit is inevitable to reach Germany’s 2020 climate targets, whereas her CDU counterpart, Thomas Bareiß, wonders whether these emissions reduction targets can be met at all.

Read the full article here.

 

09 October

German Greens confident pro-climate government coalition possible - Leading Green politicians in Germany are optimistic an agreement to improve the country’s patchy climate record is possible in likely coalition talks with Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the free-market FDP. Despite major ideological differences between the three camps that could form Germany’s next government, the Greens believe the introduction of a CO2 price floor and fostering green innovation could provide common ground, while “climate chancellor” Merkel could prove an important ally to push climate policies during negotiations.

Read the full CLEW article here.

 

Exploratory talks to begin on 18 October – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her conservative bloc of CDU and CSU would begin exploratory talks on forming a Jamaica coalition on 18 October. That day, CDU/CSU would hold separate talks with the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party. “Then on Friday, 20 October we will have a first round of exploratory talks with all partners,” Merkel told a joint news conference with CSU leader Horst Seehofer on Monday. CDU and CSU have agreed on a joint compromise position on refugee policy, removing a major obstacle to pursuing talks on a coalition with other parties.

See the articles in English here and here.

 

05 October

CDU state premier “troublemaker” for Jamaica talks – Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that Armin Laschet, state premier of Germany’s industrial heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) could cause trouble for coalition talks between the CDU/CSU, FDP and Green Party. Laschet made clear that a future coalition agreement must not hurt the interests of his state. “There are few in the Jamaica coalition fighting for us to remain an industrial state,” he said, adding that the Greens were in mind to ban diesel engines, and that hasty changes to German energy policy would threaten “tens of thousands of jobs” in NRW. Laschet foresees “a fierce struggle” over this in the talks. “We will make some noise, if necessary,” he said.

See the article (behind paywall) in German here.

 

04 October

Majority in favour of Jamaica coalition - A new Forsa poll finds that 57 percent of Germans support a government coalition of conservatives, greens and Free Democrats. Support is highest among Green Party voters (84%), followed by FDP voters (81%) and supporters of the Christian democrats (58%).

See the article in German here.

 

02 October

Green party paves way for exploratory talks with CDU/CSU and FDP – The party leadership decided unanimously at a conference held in Berlin that they would enter talks for a so-called “Jamaica coalition” with the conservatives and Free Democrats. The Greens will demand that “ecologic progress” and “more social fairness” are part of a coalition agreement.

 

29 September

Four-way exploratory talks ahead of negotiations for a government coalition of CDU, CSU, FDP and Greens are likely to start only after the state parliamentary election in Lower Saxony on 15 October, reports Tagesschau.de, citing CDU sources. The conservative parties CDU and CSU will start two-way talks on 8 October, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Chief of the German chancellery Peter Altmaier would like to see a government formed by Christmas, but “the content is what counts, not the date,” he tells Focus Magazine.

 

28 September

All parties must compromise to prevent “dreadful” new elections, says Elmar Brok, CDU MEP, long-time Merkel ally and former head of the European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, in an interview with the Clean Energy Wire. “Everyone must be flexible. We’re also in favour of better climate policy, the chancellor has championed this. But everything must happen in a reasonable and balanced manner: everybody must budge and show willingness to compromise.” [Read the full interview]

Free Democratic Party (FDP) top candidate Christian Lindner says his party will strive for “a reasonable energy policy” if it is going to be part of Germany’s next government. The FDP would be “ready to talk about how this goal can be achieved. But the goal itself is non-negotiable”, Lindner tells Welt Online. He says it was “written in the stars” whether the different party positions could be reconciled in a consistent manner and in Germany’s interest. He said the FDP “will only enter a coalition if there’s a turnaround in German politics”, but would otherwise join the opposition. The FDP head argued that the Green Party needed to resolve an internal dispute between its centrist and left-leaning members before any serious coalition talks can start, adding that “I’d welcome if those Greens in favour of political realism gained the upper hand”.

Green party top candidate Cem Özdemir says that climate protection, European integration, and social justice are the topics his party will be most adamant on in a possible coalition with the conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the economic liberal FDP. Özdemir tells Hamburger Abendblatt  that for the coalition talks to succeed, “everybody needs to feel like a winner”, meaning that each party has to make gains in policy areas that they deem particularly important. Özdemir said that for talks on a ‘Jamaica’ coalition, it was necessary for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU to “resolve their internal differences” first. The Greens’ co-leader said that Germany had to phase out coal-fired power plants and focus on the production of emissions-free cars to maintain its strong position in the automotive sector, adding that the Greens were “ready to assume responsibility” in a government coalition, “but not at any price”.

 

27 September 2017

The Green Party would have the opportunity to help re-adjust Germany’s climate protection policy if it entered into a coalition with the CDU/CSU and the FDP, Renate Künast, Green Party member of the Bundestag and former agriculture minister, tells the Tagesspiegel. She calls on all parties to show flexibility. “After this election result, we have a responsibility to the whole country”, said Künast.

 

25 September 2017

Free Democratic Party (FDP) top candidate Christian Lindner comments onpossible controversies his party will have with the Greens in upcoming coalition talks:“The costs for reducing CO2 in Germany are among the highest in the world. This shows that energy and climate policy in Germany is not economically, ecologically and socially sensible and must be corrected. I don’t know whether the Greens will be prepared to do this.”

“There are different ways of decreasing CO2 emissions. In Germany the heating sector has been completely neglected. […] There are low hanging fruits which means we can save CO2 more efficiently with less money and more market-oriented instruments than by building yet another wind turbine that isn’t connected to the grid and whose energy we cannot store. This costs a lot of money but only causes the need for more use of lignite power. We are looking for reasonable ways to achieve climate targets across various sectors. This may be a small difference we have with the Green Party which is very much focused on the generation of energy.”

Green Party top candidates Cem Özdemir and Katrin Göring-Eckardt on energy and climate policy, and possible controversies with the Free Democrats (FDP)  in upcoming coalition talks:

Özdemir: “Climate change is not just any topic to us that we focus on to annoy others, it’s the existential question for life on our planet and by the way also what decides about the economic success of our country. There is no economic success without climate action.”

Göring-Eckardt: “We have to comply with the Paris Agreement. Now we’re talking about how to fulfil it. This will involve renewable energies, transport and a mobility transition and agriculture. We don’t intend to fill every last space with a wind turbine. But we will have to invest in renewable energies. We will also have to see to shaping a working power market in Germany and prevent lignite power from blocking the grid. We are currently world leaders in lignite production and converting it into electricity. The FDP always claims to be a very open and innovative party. It really surprises me that they are sticking to the fossil energy production from the last century.”

 

24 September 2017

Angela Merkel, chancellor and CDU party leader:
“We are the strongest force. We have the mandate to form a government and no government can be formed without us.”

Martin Schulz, SPD party leader and chancellor candidate:
In an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF, Schulz was asked if he definitely ruled out that the SPD would enter another grand coalition. “Yes. It is absolutely clear that the mandate given to us by the voters is the opposition.”

Katrin Göring-Eckardt, top candidate of the Green Party:
“Our voters expect us to make the climate a key priority. […] In ecologic questions, many things separate us [from the Free Democratic Party, editor’s note].”

Christian Lindner, top candidate of the Free Democratic Party (FDP):
“Of course the FDP stands behind the climate targets of Paris. What separates us from the Greens is their ideological and subsidy-driven energy policy. We want a market oriented model.”

Regarding a possible coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU and the Green Party, Lindner said: “We will not be pushed into such a government. We are looking at many open questions. A Jamaica coalition will be difficult. We have priorities, such as education and faster digitalisation. We need a reasonable energy policy and immigration policy. There is common ground but also distances between us and the CDU and the Greens.”

Cem Özdemir, top candidate of the Green Party:
"The issues will determine the coalition possibilities. We will not enter in any coalition without a clear priority for climate protection, without a strong Europe and without society solidarity. That, in a nutshell, is what it’s going to be about.”

“This is not just any topic that we make up. It is THE existential question – climate change. We see these storms – You know, I have two kids and I have a responsibility for them. And I can only take on responsibility in this country, if the next government is one that finally starts to reduce CO₂ emissions. […] One day, we’ll have to take stock and account for what we have done against climate change. We [the Greens] have good plans, we are prepared. On this basis we will talk with the other parties.”

Winfried Kretschmann, Green state premier in Baden-Württemberg:
On a possible "Jamaica" coalition of the Greens with Angela Merkel's conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the Free Democrats (FDP): "If we are offered talks, we will participate in earnest [...] Every coalition means that compromises are necessary [...] Climate change is a very important issue to us [...] Some things are especially important to us, for example a quick exit from coal. These things have to be discussed in detail once we get there."

Jürgen Trittin, Green Party MP, former environment minister; led the coalition talks for the Greens in 2013:
“We have a decent result […] But we know it will be a difficult process. If Angela Merkel approaches us, we will talk with her about a coalition. But there are  three conditions: The CDU must become more ecologic, the Liberal Democrats must become more social and the CSU has to get more liberal.”

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