Coalition watch – The making of a new German government
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 bundles 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.
Merkel re-elected as German chancellor - The German federal parliament, the Bundestag, has elected Chancellor Angela Merkel to a fourth term in office. Merkel, who will head a renewed grand coalition between her conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was elected with 364 to 315 votes (9 abstentions). Her parliamentary alliance has a majority of 399. The new cabinet was sworn in.
Coalition treaty signed - Leaders of the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have signed the coalition treaty for the coming legislative period. Now that a “stable government capable of acting” had been built, the chancellor called for “a helping of joy” in governing, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. “Then it can become good governmental work,” Merkel said. The election of the chancellor will take place in the German Bundestag on 14 March, after which the cabinet will be appointed by the German president.
All ministers of new government named - Angela Merkel's fourth government cabinet is complete. As the last coalition party, the SPD announced its ministers for the next legislative period. Svenja Schulze, former science minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, will become Germany's next environment minister, responsible for climate and nuclear policy. The CDU has appointed Peter Altmaier, formerly chief of the Chancellery, to become the next economy and energy minister. He will be in charge of Germany's energy policy. The CDU's Bavarian sister party CSU sends Andreas Scheuer and party leader Horst Seehofer to Berlin. Scheuer will become transport minister and Seehofer interior minister. The responsibility for Germany's construction sector has been transferred from the environment to the interior ministry.
Cabinet will be appointed next week - German President Frank-Walter Steinmer will appoint the new cabinet on 14 March. The parliament first has to vote for Merkel to become Chancellor again, but given the parliamentary majority of her coalition between the CDU/CSU and the SPD, this is seen as a mere formality.
President Steinmeier confirms Merkel as Chancellor candidate - As a formality, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has officially proposed to the federal parliament to re-elect Angela Merkel as Chancellor. The parliamentary vote will likely take place on 14 March.
Current general secretary of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Andreas Scheuer will become Germany's next transport minister, according to reports.
Members of the Social Democrats (SPD) voted in favour of a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, opening the way to a new government for Europe’s largest economy. Two thirds of the membership backed the deal, a wider margin than many had expected – ending more than five months of political uncertainty. The new government is now expected to be sworn in by mid-March. The Social Democrats have yet to announce the names of their ministers in the cabinet, among them the environment minister. Current minister Barbara Hendricks is widely expected to remain in office.
Merkel's CDU votes in favour of coalition deal with centre-left SPD - The Christian Democratic Party (CDU) conference approved the coalition agreement.
Merkel officially proposes former Chancellery Chief Peter Altmaier economy & energy minister – The former head of the German Chancellery, Peter Altmaier, has officially been proposed the country’s next minister for the economy and energy. Chancellor Angela Merkel named her long-term confidant Altmaier, who currently also serves as acting finance minister, to join the next cabinet alongside several conservative politicians who so far were relatively unknown to the public. Whether they will actually serve in their assigned positions still hinges on a vote by the Social Democrat's (SPD) party base in which party members decide if they accept the coalition agreement. The SPD will announce the vote's result on 4 March. Altmaier is regarded as experienced in Germany’s climate and energy policy and an outspoken supporter of the country’s Energiewende. He has served as Germany’s environment minister from 2012 to 2013.
Merkel vows to govern until 2021, says she is "available" for minority government - Germany’s acting Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that she intends to head the German government for the entire legislative period ending in 2021 - if a renewal of the grand coalition between her conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) is confirmed in a vote by the SPD party base. The result of the postal vote by about 460,000 SPD members will be announced on 4 March. In an interview with public broadcaster ZDF, Merkel said she “made a pledge to the population to stay in office for four more years”. She added that her party’s loss of votes in September’s parliamentary elections and the ensuing internal party debates over her leadership style did not make her feel that she suffered a loss in authority. If the SPD party basis rejects the coalition, Merkel said Article 63 of Germany’s constitution (Grundgesetz) “comes into play” and she would “be available” for that, meaning that she would be ready to head a minority government as well.
Merkel’s CDU will hold a special party convention on 26 February in which delegates decide on the staffing of ministries. The Chancellor said ceding the finance ministry (BMF) to the SPD had been a difficult concession for her party but stressed that the CDU gained the ministry for the economy and energy (BMWi) in return. “We have been longing for this for some time,” Merkel said. She added that the department for construction now also rested with the Conservatives, after it had been moved from the SPD-led environment ministry (BMUB) to the interior ministry (BMI), led by the CDU’s Bavarian sister party CSU. Since the transport ministry (BMVI) and the agriculture ministry (BMEL) are also held by the CSU, all ministries except the BMUB that are relevant for Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions are now held by the conservative CDU/CSU block.
SPD leader Schulz rejects ministerial office, steps down as party leader - In the SPD, a surprising move by party leader Martin Schulz to abstain from becoming foreign minister in a new government and ceding the party chairmanship has caused a stir in the party over the weekend. Schulz said he had to cut back on his “individual ambitions” for the sake of his party, adding that he hopes his decision “will end all debates over personnel within the SPD”. Schulz had been heavily criticised by the influential regional SPD group of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) as well as by the party’s youth organisation Jusos for seeking a ministry position in the new government after publicly declaring he would not become minister under Merkel. The change of heart is seen as a bid to secure a positive result in the vote on a grand coalition by the SPD’s party base. Schulz will likely be succeeded by current parliamentary group leader Andrea Nahles, who would be the Social Democrats’ first female leader.
Coalition treaty grasps challenges, lacks detail - The provisions on climate, energy, and transport in the coalition treaty agreed by Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) recognise the big challenges of Germany’s energy transition project, but lack concrete instruments and measures, says Andreas Löschel, economist and head of the government-appointed independent expert commission on Energiewende monitoring. The planned commissions, mandated for example to plan the phase-out of coal-fired power generation, could deliver the “innovative proposals” needed. The Clean Energy Wire asked the energy transition expert about CO₂ pricing, a reform of the energy taxes and levies system, grid pricing, and the integration of renewable energy sources.
2030 renewables goal "not difficult" - 2030 renewables goal "not difficult" - The coalition agreement by Germany's would-be coalition parties CDU/CSU and SPD is a step towards "realistic" Energiewende policy, says CDU energy policy spokesperson Joachim Pfeiffer. He argues a coal exit date for Germany - envisaged in the coalition treaty - is not necessary as the country is on track to meet its pledges made under the Paris Agreement either way. This will partly be due to an ambitious expansion of renewable energy sources, which according to Pfeiffer will be achieved "without any difficulties."
Reactions to Germany's coalition agreement - The Clean Energy Wire presents first reactions to texts on transport, climate and energy by politicians, industry, NGOs and the media.
Commission on coal exit "easy way out" - In their coalition treaty, negotiators from Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) have agreed to set up a special commission charged with managing the phase-out of coal-fired power generation in Germany, which includes setting an end date by next year. This means taking the easy way out, because such a commission does not substitute for political action, says Lisa Badum, climate spokesperson for the Green Party’s parliamentary group. It would need more time, and thus it is the wrong instrument, because urgent action is needed on climate protection, Badum told the Clean Energy Wire.
Germany's coalition negotiators agree treaty, promise coal exit date - Germany's would-be governing coalition partners have concluded a treaty that is likely to result in a final deadline for coal-fired power production in Germany. The agreement reached after weeks of intensive talks largely confirms the most important energy and climate policy positions of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) that emerged a few days earlier. However, the deal can still be scrapped by the SPD's members, who will vote on the treaty with the outcome expected in early March
The Clean Energy Wire presents excerpts on climate, energy and transport from the agreement in this factsheet.
"There will be no more excuses in 2030", Social Democratic (SPD) energy spokesman Bernd Westphal told CLEW in an interview. He concedes that the challenges awaiting the country in terms of further integrating renewable energy sources and reducing emissions are going to be significant. While the SPD's and Conservatives' decision to water down Germany's 2020 climate goal was "no drama," there will be "no more excuses" in 2030.
Coalition negotiators consider diesel car hardware retrofitting in treaty draft - Negotiators of CDU/CSU and SPD want to avoid inner city driving bans and consider hardware retrofitting for older diesel cars to bring down nitrogen oxide emissions in German cities, reports news agency Reuters. In sections of a coalition treaty draft, seen by the Clean Energy Wire, the would-be coalition partners write that a decision on hardware retrofitting will be taken in 2018. The text says that German mobility policy is committed to help reaching the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement; it will take social considerations into account, as well as safeguard industry’s competitiveness. This will require support for electric mobility, public and rail transport, and more efficient and cleaner combustion engines, including retrofitting, and the continuation of funds from the diesel summit. The coalition partners say they will appoint a commission including actors from politics, business, environmental associations, unions, and affected states and regions that will work out a strategy on the “future of affordable and sustainable transport” including a reliable timeframe by 2019.
Coalition treaty draft outlines common climate & energy positions of conservatives, SPD - The draft of a coalition treaty agreed by Germany’s negotiating parties suggests that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) have found common ground on energy and climate policy, mirroring several aspects that had already been included in the first coalition blueprint. In excerpts seen by the Clean Energy Wire, the potential grand coalition partners say they will enact legislation to ensure that the country’s 2030 climate protection goal is met “by all means.” However, the target of reducing emissions by 2020 has been watered down to lowering greenhouse gas output “as much as possible.” The internationally binding 2030 goal stipulates a reduction by 55 percent compared to 1990 levels, and the national 2020 goal a reduction by 40 percent.
A special commission on “growth, structural economic change and employment” will be set up in 2018 to identify ways for Germany to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible by the end of 2020, and to produce a plan “for the gradual reduction and phase-out of coal-fired power production, including an end date.” A “parallel measure for the construction and transport sectors” is expected to identify reduction potentials there. The results for all three sectors will be used as basis for legislation in 2019 that will make the 2030 climate protection goals binding, the draft says.
The parties also say they want to intensify cooperation with France on setting a price on CO2 emissions and “strengthening the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) as the leading principle.” They want to “assess fees and levies on different energy sources,” meaning fuel or heating oil, to promote the electrification of all sectors, known as “sector coupling.”
In order to make progress in reducing emissions in the construction sector, the parties want to introduce tax reliefs for the energy-efficient refurbishment of buildings. They aim to support these measures with up to one billion euros per year. Citizens will also be able to apply for subsidies for replacement of old boilers with modern and efficient heating installations.
To reach a 65 percent share of renewables in gross power consumption by 2030, the parties want to “significantly increase renewables expansion,” and hold additional auctions for wind and solar power for 4 gigawatt (GW) capacity in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
The parties’ energy and climate negotiators will hold at least one additional meeting , and the draft treaty will eventually have to be accepted by the parties’ leaders. According to Merkel’s CDU, the negotiations are scheduled to end on Sunday, 4 February, but might be extended by two more days if necessary. The parties initially said they wanted to conclude their talks by 8 February.
Meanwhile, the German parliament agreed on the composition of 23 technical committees, which will be charged with drafting legislation in different policy areas during the next legislative period. The committee on environment, construction and nuclear safety will be headed by Green politician Sylvia Kotting-Uhl, the committee on transport by former Green Party leader Cem Özdemir, and the committee on the economy and energy by Left Party politician Klaus Ernst.
Conservatives and SPD launch formal coalition negotiations - Four months after Germans elected a new parliament in September, acting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) have started official coalition negotiations, public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk reports. After an initial meeting of party leaders, lower-ranking party representatives convene to prepare the negotiations of 18 different working groups that will base their deliberations on a coalition blueprint the parties agreed on earlier in January.
SPD leader Martin Schulz said the parties were intent on delivering results quickly, but cautioned that “accuracy trumps velocity”. According to the broadcaster, the parties could agree on a coalition treaty by mid-February. But the SPD will subsequently let its party members decide whether they accept the treaty, a procedure that is likely to take some weeks. Chancellor Merkel said ahead of the talks that “people expect us to make progress towards forming a government”, adding that she would make sure “that we proceed quickly”, tagesschau.de reports.
Social Democrats (SPD) vote for formal coalition negotiations; Germany giving up climate target “fake news” – At their special congress held on 21 January, SPD delegates voted by 362 to 297 to enter formal negotiations to renew Germany’s grand coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU block, reports Reuters. SPD leaders vowed to improve on the coalition blueprint the three parties had agreed on 12 January. “We will negotiate until the other side squeals,” the party’s parliamentary leader, Andrea Nahles, said at the congress. In a press statement after the SPD vote, Merkel said that “the blueprint from the exploratory talks is the framework in which we will negotiate, and there are still many questions to clear up in detail and that will require intensive talks.” The parties’ leaders will meet on 22 January to discuss the negotiation schedule for the coming weeks, and SPD party members will vote on an eventual coalition deal that may emerge “likely in March,” writes the SPD in a press release.
Addressing the party congress, SPD head Martin Schulz dismissed as „fake news” reports that the possible future coalition would be prepared to scrap the country’s 2020 climate target. “Of course, we do not give up on the climate targets. Quite the opposite: we will have a climate protection law in Germany for the first time,” said Schulz.
SPD without ’plan B’ if delegates reject formal coalition negotiations with conservatives - The parliamentary group leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Andrea Nahles, has said she had “no plan B” for the coalition talks if SPD delegates, at their scheduled meeting on Sunday, reject a proposal by the party leadership to enter into formal negotiations with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance. In an interview with the Westdeutsche Zeitung, the leading SPD politician said she estimates that about one third of party delegates were still undecided about how they will vote at the party convention. Like SPD leader Martin Schulz, Nahles has also advocated a renewal of the so-called grand coalition with the conservatives, which has governed the country since 2013. However, several regional SPD groups, as well as the party’s youth organisation Jusos, have strongly opposed another grand coalition, arguing that it would not allow the Social Democrats to sufficiently pursue left-leaning policies, would dilute the party profile, and would damage voter confidence. While Nahles said she could understand party members who are disappointed about the leadership’s change of heart after Schulz had declared the SPD would join the parliamentary opposition in the wake of a disastrous election result in September 2017, she added that she was “optimistic” that delegates were going to vote in favour of a renewed grand coalition and that she would not consider new elections at all.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Merkel ruled out that the coalition blueprint reached with the SPD in exploratory talks would be subject to renegotiation. Her party had already made “severe concessions” to the Social Democrats, and the blueprint’s content could only be “fine-tuned” but not changed. She added that she hoped for a “responsible decision” by SPD delegates on 21 January. Schulz, on the other hand, said he was convinced the blueprint was going to be complemented by new ideas, and that “some things will certainly be added” once formal coalition negotiations have begun.
SPD backlash against preliminary coalition agreement on eve of decisive party convention - Leading figures and regional associations of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) have criticised the result of coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, increasing pressure on party leader Martin Schulz to convince SPD delegates at a party convention on 21 January to accept a renewal of the grand coalition. Last Saturday, the SPD regional group in eastern German state Saxony-Anhalt voted against continuing the government coalition with Merkel’s conservatives, dealing a blow to Schulz and the entire SPD leadership, which advocates for taking this course after initially opting for leading the parliamentary opposition due to the party’s heavy losses in last September’s elections.
Scepticism towards the coalition blueprint is particularly strong among the party’s left-wingers and the SPD’s youth branch Jusos, whose leader, Kevin Kuehnert, works intensively towards stalling the project. Inner-party opponents of the grand coalition argue that the blueprint falls short of sufficiently backing the social democrats’ policies, and that a continued partnership under Merkel would contribute to a vague SPD profile and declining popularity. However, SPD parliamentary group leader Andrea Nahles said some leaders in the SPD are “deliberately” talking the coalition blueprint down as “they are opposed to a grand coalition regardless of what we achieve in the negotiations.”
A majority of Germans is sceptical of or even wholly rejects another CDU/CSU-SPD coalition government. According to a survey commissioned by newspaper Welt am Sonntag, 52 percent of all respondents say a new grand coalition was “not good” or “bad” for the country. Rejection among SPD voters was even greater, with 60 percent holding a negative view of the party liaison, whereas 67 percent of CDU/CSU voters say the coalition model was “good” or “very good.” The SPD leadership has said it will ask all of its roughly 450,000 party members whether they approve of a possible coalition agreement.
German party leaders agree energy policy blueprint for coalition talks - The parties currently in talks to form Germany’s next government have agreed to speed up the roll-out of renewable energies and start the phase-out of coal-fired power generation. Contrary to a draft leaked earlier this week, the blueprint agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats (SPD) no longer explicitly postpones Germany's 2020 climate target. The parties now have to decide whether to enter formal negotiations on a renewal of the grand coalition, which are likely to last many weeks.
First reactions to energy policy in parties' coalition talk blueprint - CLEW has compiled first reactions to the agreement.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has urged the centre-right CDU/CSU and centre-left SPD to make progress in exploratory talks to form Germany’s next government, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. The negotiations began Sunday night and rough agreements have already been made on business, transport and digitalisation. SPD parliamentary leader Andrea Nahles said leaks of agreements so far were “very annoying”, after Armin Laschet, the CDU state premier for North Rhine-Westphalia released details of climate policy on Monday.
Aspiring coalition parties postpone 2020 climate goal - The negotiation partners in Germany's ongoing coalition talks, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative block and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), have agreed to postpone the country's 2020 emissions reduction target until "the early 2020s". Party negotiators also agreed on introducing a climate protection law by 2019, ramping up the country's renewable energy expansion to a share in power production of 65 percent by 2030, and preparing an end to coal-fired power production to make sure that the reduction target for 2030 can be met, according to a working group paper from the talks between parties seen by the Clean Energy Wire. The parties said there was no final agreement until talks end later this week.
Exploratory talks begin / interview ban – Talks on extending a grand coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative block and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have begun. Lars Klingbeil, the SPD’s secretary general, said in a statement representing all three parties that the talks, which are to last five days, had got off to a “serious, constructive and open” start. He said some of the 15 policy working groups had made good progress, although others had not. Ahead of this first round, Merkel said the negotiations “can succeed […] I’m optimistic going into these talks, but I’m aware that we have a huge amount of work to do in the coming days.” SPD head Martin Schulz said, “We aren’t putting down any red lines, but we want to get a lot of red policy through,” red being the Social Democrats’ party colour. German broadcaster ARD reported that participants in negotiations had agreed to refrain from giving interviews until the exploratory talks end. On Thursday, 11 January, the parties aim to have a rough agreement on the basis of which each decides whether to enter formal coalition negotiations.
Social Democrats (SPD) delegate “Energiewende sympathisers” to coalition talks – With Stephan Weil, state premier of Lower Saxony, Germany’s number one wind power state, and Matthias Miersch, responsible for environment and agriculture policy within the SPD parliamentary group, the Social Democrats chose to delegate two “Energiewende sympathisers” to the energy and climate policy negotiation team, reports Jakob Schlandt in Tagesspiegel Background Energie & Klima. This means that there is no SPD representative “close to industry and coal” on the team, writes Schlandt.
2 January 2018
German parties at odds ahead of coalition talks – Members of chancellor Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) bicker about migration and tax cuts ahead of talks to form Germany’s next federal government, reports Reuters. Party leaders will meet on 3 January for preliminary talks before of the actual start of exploratory coalition talks on 7 January. Based on the outcome of several meetings over the course of the following week, the parties plan to decide whether to enter official negotiations. In her new year’s address, Merkel said she was committed to “quickly” forming a "stable government" for Germany. “Because the world will not wait for us,” said the chancellor.
12 January deadline set for next phase of coalition talks – The leaders of the CDU, the CSU and the SPD have agreed to start exploratory talks on forming a government coalition on 7 January and said that they aim to wrap them up in a matter of days, by the agreed 12 January deadline. In an “ atmosphere based on trust”, acting Chancellor Angela Merkel, SPD party head Martin Schulz and others identified 15 topic clusters, including one on energy/climate protection/environment and another on economy/transport/infrastructure/digitalisation/bureaucracy. Should the parties decide to open formal negotiations, these would last at least until the Easter holidays, reports Der Tagesspiegel. The Social Democrats will make a formal decision whether to enter coalition negotiations at an extraordinary party conference on 21 January.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) continues to seek a regular grand coalition government coalition ahead of talks with the Social Democrats (SPD). Her goal was to build a “stable government, which means not to vote with changing majorities. For the CDU, anything but this would not be a success of exploratory talks” with the SPD, said Merkel after a party leadership meeting. In a Twitter message, SPD party leader Martin Schulz wrote: “No matter what several people call for or what others speculate: For me it is clear that the exploratory talks will be open-ended.” According to the CDU website, exploratory talks will start at the beginning of January and last about two weeks. Then, the parties will decide whether they want to enter official coalition negotiations.
The leadership of the Social Democrats (SPD) unanimously decides to start exploratory talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on a renewal of the "grand coalition" of Germany's two largest political camps. But SPD head Martin Schulz said it remained unclear whether this would eventually lead to formal coalition talks.
The Social Democrats (SPD) have compiled a list of 11 topics to be addressed during talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives on renewing a grand coalition of Germany’s two largest political camps. Talking point number 11 is entitled “For climate protection and a successful Energiewende”, and says that Germany must pursue ambitious climate targets at home and abroad in order to preserve its industrial base.
The Green Party is “still ready for talks” on becoming part of a possible government coalition in Germany, the party’s parliamentary group co-leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt has said in an interview with Welt Online. She said that her party would be ready for talks on forming a minority government with Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance as well as for a renewal of talks on a so-called Jamaica coalition with the conservatives and the pro-business FDP, which dropped out of exploratory consultations in late November.
The Social Democratic Party (SPD) decides at a party convention to enter talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance on a renewal of the grand coalition between Germany’s two largest parties. SPD delegates favoured the start of talks by a wide margin after party head Martin Schulz vehemently appealed to them to agree. Schulz also said a coal exit was inevitable to reach Germany’s climate targets, but insisted the shift must not come at the expense of workers. Informal talks are scheduled to start on 13 December and formal talks won't begin before January, according to news agency dpa.
A new government is unlikely to be formed in Germany before spring 2018, Olaf Scholz, deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. Scholz, who also is mayor of Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, said that “I don’t expect a federal government, in whatever constellation, to be formed before spring”, adding that Germany nevertheless remained politically stable with its current acting government coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the SPD.
Scholz said Merkel would need a lot of strength to broker a consensus between the two parties to join forces once again and continue a grand coalition government - a constellation the SPD ruled out after the elections but has since reconsidered following the collapse of talks over a so-called ‘Jamaica coalition’. “I’m not sure whether the chancellor has sufficient strength to do it”, Scholz added.
The Social Democratic (SPD) party leadership has agreed on entering talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the SPD's executive committee says in a proposed resolution seen by the Clean Energy Wire. The party leaders say the SPD could "not remain indifferent whether or not we have a federal government or new elections", adding they felt "obliged" to enter talks on a possible renewal of the so-called grand coalition. SPD party leader Martin Schulz repeatedly ruled out a government participation for his party after it incurred heavy losses in September's elections. However, he was faced with mounting pressure to reconsider this position after talks on a possible Jamaica coalition collapsed. Schulz will be tasked with explaning this turnaround to party delegates at a convention from 7-9 December.
In the proposed resolution, the SPD leadership says that an "ambitious climate protection" policy, a "consistent expansion of renewable energy sources" and "financial support" for negatively affected industries were going to be "essential points" in its talks with the conservative camp. There could be no "carry on" approach for a new government and the party leadership would decide whether it enters into formal coalition negotiations or possibly accepts a conservative minority government after sounding out "if there's enough trust" in the potential partner during talks that are scheduled to begin next week.
The economic council of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU says the party should give serious consideration to a minority government, in order to avoid a new grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD). In a statement, the economic council said a grand coalition would only be possible if the CDU agreed to the SPD’s demands on welfare policy, which it says are “far too costly”. The council also argues that a renewal of the CDU-SPD coalition would weaken both parties, strengthening the far-right and far-left fringes of German politics. The CDU's Economic Council is no internal party organ but rather a business association positioning itself close to the CDU's economic policy principles.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with the party leaders of the CDU, its Bavarian sister party the CSU, and the SPD, to sound out a possible coalition. Social Democratic Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his party would not rush into a decision on exploratory talks with the conservatives. “Nobody should expect this to happen quickly,” Gabriel said.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has greenlighted talks aimed at reviving the so-called grand coalition with rival Social Democratic Party (SPD). A renewal of the coalition between the country’s two largest parties is seen as the only politically viable option to prevent a minority government or new elections after the failure of talks between the conservatives, the pro-business FDP and the environmentalist Green Party. The SPD initially rejected a continuation of the grand coalition but now finds itself under pressure to preserve stability. Merkel's deputy in the conservative party, Julia Klöckner, said real coalition talks with the Social Democrats might not start before January.
Following the collapse of “Jamaica” coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the pro-business FDP and the environmentalist Green Party, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has led talks with all parties present in the new parliament to sound out options for forming a new government. Steinmeier said parties must be ready to compromise, making clear he wanted to avoid new elections. He appealed to parties they must do justice to the political responsibility transferred to them, rather than simply handing it back to voters.
After the meeting between Steinmeier and Social Democrat (SPD) leader Martin Schulz, the party signalled a willingness to talk, reversing their categorical refusal to enter government made shortly after the elections. Schulz said on Friday SPD members will get to vote on any leadership decision to join government.
German coalition talks collapse despite progress on climate and energy - After almost five weeks of deliberations, the pro-business Free Democratic Party has pulled the plug on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to form a coalition government made up of her conservative CDU/CSU alliance, the Greens and the FDP. Migration was ultimately the most contentious issue, with politicians insisting disagreements over energy and climate policy were not the ultimate reason for the collapse. The Greens and CSU accused the FDP of playing tactical games. SPD head Martin Schulz reiterated that his party would not enter another grand coalition – making a minority government or new elections realistic options.
Little climate progress as Germany's coalition talks enter overtime - Germany's aspiring coalition partners have made little headway in key climate and energy issues as exploratory talks dragged on past the self-imposed Thursday deadline. A new offer by Chancellor Angela Merkel to cut coal-fired power production by 7 GW by 2020 was rejected by the Greens, but the three political camps also failed to find compromises in many other policy areas after four weeks of deliberations. The talks will now resume on Friday, and might stretch into the weekend. Read the CLEW story here.
Greens reject coal offer tabled by conservatives, FDP in German coalition talks - Germany’s Green Party has rejected an offer tabled by its aspiring coalition partners to reduce the country’s coal power capacity by up to 5 gigawatt (GW), news agency Reuters reports. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the pro-business FDP say that Germany’s coal capacity can be reduced by a maximum of 3 to 5 GW by 2020 without threatening power supply security. The Greens, on the other hand, insist that capacity must be reduced by 8 to 10 GW to achieve a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions in line with the national 2020 climate targets. Read a CLEW story on this here.
Public enthusiasm for Jamaica coalition wanes - Public support for a new government made up the conservative CDU/CSU, FDP and Greens is falling as coalition talks go on, according to German public broadcaster ARD. An ARD survey shows that 45 percent of Germans think a “Jamaica” coalition would be very good or somewhat good for Germany, down 12 percent points from a month ago. A majority of 52 percent now think it would be not so good, or bad, for the country. Support for the expected government fell most dramatically among Green Party supporters – only 55 percent of whom think it would be good for the country, down 21 percentage points. A majority of 68 percent of Germans still believe the next government will be made up of the three parties currently in talks, but 30 percent now believe the talks will fail, up 9 percentage points on last month.
Greens ready to make climate policy concessions in coalition talks - As Germany’s Jamaica coalition talks are approaching a critical point, the Green Party appears to soften core climate policy demands in an attempt to achieve similar concessions from its negotiating partners. Party leaders say that neither their demand for a 2030 fossil combustion engine ban nor a complete coal exit in the same year were set in stone, insisting that the party’s intention to drastically reduce emissions remained unchanged. Reactions from the conservative and market-liberal camps are mixed, but Chancellor Angela Merkel warns that all parties had a responsibility to work towards a compromise and avoid new elections.
Coalition parties meet in small group to unblock climate and energy - A small circle of representatives from CDU, CSU, FDP and the Green Party will meet this afternoon (2 November) to try and find common ground on climate and energy in the ongoing exploratory talks ahead of official negotiations to build the next government coalition. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-hand man and chancellery chief Peter Altmaier, the head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) and former Free Democratic state secretary Stefan Kapferer and current state secretary in the economy and energy ministry Rainer Baake, who is a member of the Green Party, are among the participants, a source close to the talks told the Clean Energy Wire. The group's discussions will inform the next round of exploratory talks on the issue, scheduled for next week.
Combustion engine ban splitting point in coalition talks on transport - After the clash over climate and energy policy last week, the parties also failed to agree on transport policy, an equally controversial topic. At the coalition talks on Wednesday, 1 November, the debate over an end to combustion engines in Germany and looming driving bans for polluting cars in several major cities were splitting points as the potential Jamaica coalition partners’ ideas for the future of the mighty German car industry differ considerably.
FDP, CSU politicians oppose general driving bans - Key representatives of FDP and CSU have spoken out against driving bans for cars. “For us it’s clear that we oppose general driving bans and that the call for a combustion engine ban by 2030 is not doable with us,” said current transport minister Alexander Dobrindt ahead of exploratory coalition talks, reports German broadcaster ARD. FDP head Christian Lindner told Bild in an interview that there would be “no driving bans with the FDP. We can make traffic more environmentally friendly by way of electrification and digitalisation […]. Because the air quality is already good, we should take more time when it comes to stricter EU limits, if need be,” said Lindner.
More trust after leadership meeting - A party leadership meeting of CDU, CSU, FDP and the Green Party on 29 October was “a significant step towards more trust”, said Green parliamentary group head Katrin Göring-Eckhardt in an interview with public German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. It came after coalition talks got stuck over climate and energy policy, as well as politics last week. “Now, we will see if that also takes effect in this week’s talks,” she said. Germany reaching its climate targets was an “elementary” issue for the Greens. “Now, we have to see how to get there, while ensuring supply security and affordability,” said Göring-Eckhardt.
Coalition talks on climate goals, energy policy "heated" - FDP negotiator - Talks got stuck over the question whether Germany “must” reach its national climate targets, or whether it should merely “try” to do so. The Clean Energy Wire talked to Stefan Birkner, former climate and environment minister in the state of Lower Saxony and a member of the Free Democrats’ (FDP) team in the ongoing exploratory talks.
Coalition talks stuck over climate, energy policy - Germany’s future energy and climate policy has proven the expected difficult issue in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s effort to form a government coalition of her conservatives, the Free Democrats, and the Green Party. According to media reports, in their first round of talks dedicated to energy, climate, and environment-related issues, the parties agreed that Germany should continue to aim for meeting the existing national and international climate targets for 2020, 2030, and 2050. Yet the four parties disagreed over the interpretation, with a debate over the question whether Germany “must” reach the targets or whether the country should merely “try” to do so.
Easier to find compromise on migration than climate - It will be easier for CDU, CSU, FDP and the Green Party to find an agreement on migration and asylum than on climate policy, the CDU’s Armin Laschet, state premier of Germany’s industrial heartland North Rhine-Westphalia, told Rheinische Post in an interview. First talks on climate, energy and the environment start today. Laschet represents his party on these topics. “Climate protection is important, but keeping jobs is also a moral goal," he said on the topic of shutting down coal-fired power plants. "If Germany’s status as an industrial location is put in danger, we cannot form a coalition,” Laschet said. He added that Germany would continue to rely on a conventional power for supply security. “We need a mix of lignite, modern hard coal power plants and gas,” he said, adding that there were still no power lines to transport wind power from northern Germany, or adequate storage solutions. NRW’s state government has put together an internal list of topics and proposals for the ongoing government coalition talks, seen by Rheinische Post, including the introduction of a capacity power market.
Budget and taxes: common working basis agreed; possibility of cutting climate-harmful subsidies - In a second round of coalition talks, representatives from CDU, CSU, FDP and the Green Party agreed on “a common working basis” in the areas of budget, finances and taxes, Green leader Cem Özdemir said in a video message after the meeting. A paper published on Twitter by several participants shows the parties agreed not to increase Germany’s public debt, and to cut taxes for low-incomes households and those with children. On energy and climate policy, a “Jamaica” coalition would fund energy-efficient home renovations, and cut subsidies. “We will especially examine subsidies that contradict the climate goals,” the paper says. In 11 further meetings, the parties will identify and balance investment needs in all areas. The CDU, CSU, FDP and Green Party are now weighing up the possibility of entering official coalition negotiations, which could start mid-November and last into 2018.
“Subsidy system of the Renewable Energy Act should be abolished” - The FDP will push for a market-oriented system to pay for renewable energy, and wants to get rid of the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and the surcharge for renewables on consumer power prices, Hermann Otto Solms, a member of the FDP negotiating team in the ongoing coalition talks, writes. Solms says the renewables surcharge is a subsidy that costs consumers – and small- and medium-sized businesses in particular – billions. The FDP also wants to reduce the electricity tax.
The possible coalition parties (CDU/CSU, FDP and Green Party) will discuss energy, climate and the environment in exploratory talks on Thursday, 26 October.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel aims to wrap up exploratory coalition talks by mid-November, Handelsblatt reports, citing CDU party sources. By then, “general guidelines” for the following official negotiations should be put on paper. The Green Party leadership wants to use these guidelines at a party conference to seek the party’s consent to begin negotiations, writes Handelsblatt.
Anton Hofreiter, head of the Green Party parliamentary group, has called for a “concrete schedule” to allow Germany to reach its 2020 climate targets, Rheinische Post reports. “The coming four years will be decisive for climate protection. Clearly setting the course is essential for us [Greens],” Hofreiter said.
CDU, CSU, FDP and Greens have agreed on a first schedule for exploratory coalition talks. The parties have identified 12 policy areas. On 24 October, representatives will debate budget, taxes and the EU. On 26 October, the whole day is dedicated to climate and energy policy. Further meetings will take place on 30 October, 1 November and 2 November.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”