Vote2017: Reactions to German election results

Germans have handed Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term in the country’s federal election. Most likely, Merkel will have to start talks with the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party to form a so-called "Jamaica coalition," after the Social Democrats (SPD) have ruled out entering a new grand coalition. CLEW presents quotes from policy analysts and NGOs on the election result.

Eberhard Brandes, managing director of WWF Germany:

“The clear position of the Social Democrats [not to join into a coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU, editor’s note], paves the way for an ecologic modernisation of Germany.

The parties that will enter in a coalition must initiate the end of dirty coal to limit global warming. Furthermore, we need a transport policy that protects the climate and people, and gives Germany a perspective as an industrial hub.

Internationally Germany has to support countries in their adaptation to climate change and in building futureproof energy systems […].”

 

Stefan Kapferer, head of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) told the Tagesspiegel:

“I hope that energy policy will play a bigger role than it has done during campaigning. It is a central topic both regarding climate change and for Germany as an industrial hub. With a view to the upcoming coalition talks he highlighted that all three potential coalition members (Christian Democrats, Free Democrats and Greens) had committed to the targets of the Paris Agreement.”

 

Hans-Josef Fell, president of the Energy Watch Group and former Green Party MP:

The Green Party will have to focus on climate action and a revival of renewable energies in the upcoming coalition talks, writes Fell on his website. “The Greens benefited that they focused on the topics of climate change and ecology during the campaign. […] Many people are afraid about the deteriorating climate and the cuts made to renewable energies in the last legislative period.”

 

Utz Tillmann, head of chemicals industry trade group VCI:

“This election result means that there will be difficult coalition negotiations ahead.” The new government will have to break the spiral of increasing power costs by reforming the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), Tillmann said. “If the surcharge for future renewable installations would be paid from the government budget (instead of as a surcharge on the power price, editor’s note), this would mean a relief for consumers and give planning security to businesses.”

 

Christoph Bals, Policy Director at Germanwatch:

“German climate policy is now facing a fundamental test. The government has so far failed to implement the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. Angela Merkel has announced three times in the last weeks that she will enact the necessary measures to achieve the target. The election programme of Christian Democrats and Christian Social Union doesn’t show the same ambition. With the Free Democratic Party, the chancellor will have a possible partner who has lambasted as evil state control sector targets in climate policy such as closing down many lignite fired power plants and support programmes for building insulation. They also oppose clear targets for a transport transition. The Green Party can’t – after what they promised in their campaign – simply enter into a coalition that doesn’t tackle the coal phase-out and a transition in the heating sector. After what Angela Merkel said during her campaign she now has to quickly shut down a large number of lignite power plants and boost building insulation.

An initiative for a CO2 price, climate protection investment and more transparency by businesses on climate issues could make for a new dynamic in Germany and the EU.

There are opportunities and dangers connected to a Jamaica coalition. For the Green Party it’s a highly risky situation. If they don’t achieve visible progress concerning climate change, the transport transition and against coal, they might face a bitter loss at the polls next time.”

 

Dieter Kempf, president of the Federation of German Industries (BDI)

The BDI calls for quick talks to sound out the coalition possibilities and "concentrated negotiations about a viable federal government," said BDI president Kempf. "Our businesses need clear signals. Now, it's about averting damage from the business location Germany."

 

Jan Kowalzig, Oxfam Germany, Advisor climate change and climate policy:

“Everything points to a Jamaica coalition now. We will see whether this will advance climate protection or add another chapter to the failure of previous governments. In the coming discussions, much will depend on how the Green Party can get through with their demand for a coal phase-out. This could become difficult when faced with a Free Democratic Party (FDP) that wants to further curb renewables expansion and climate protection. The pro-business wing of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) also often opposes climate protection and a modern and climate-friendly form of societal progress.”

 

Peter Röttgen, managing director at German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE):

“Should it be a Jamaica coalition in the end, the fact that all joining parties are clearly committed to the Paris Climate Agreement is a good foundation. While there will be discussions about details, there’s no way around an accelerated energy transition and a faster expansion of renewable energies. Market elements like a CO₂ price lead to a fair, efficient and fast transformation of the energy supply.

The next legislative period will be about reaching important energy policy targets, especially the 2020 climate protection target, the Energiewende goals, and the 2020 renewable energy target. The BEE, as a dependable partner, will support the next federal government in reaching these goals. This will also serve the modernisation of the energy industry and promote innovations and new business models.”

 

Sabrina Schulz, E3G head of Berlin Office:

"This result is a shake up for Germany's democracy with massive losses for the two traditional parties, CDU and SPD. The high outcome for the right-wing Alternative for Germany shows the frustration of a large group of voters who feel left behind and not taken seriously.

A "Jamaica" coalition with Green government participation would mean: a return to decisive climate action, a plan for a future phase-out of coal and the internal combustion engine."

 

Claudia Kemfert, Head of the department of Energy, Transportation, Environment at the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW Berlin):

On the effects of a Jamaica coalition on the energy transition: “There is a little bit of hope for the energy transition if the Green Party gets its hands on the implementation. The Greens want the coal exit and introduce a sustainable transport transition – those would at least be steps in the right direction. However: the Liberal Democrats are strictly opposed to these changes, so it would be crucial in such a coalition that the Greens are in charge of the energy transition.”

What the next government has to do: “The results of the last government regarding the energy transition have been poor. The energy transition has been thwarted, a cap on the growth of renewables was decided, efficiency targets were missed and no sustainable transport transition has been started. Germany has managed to increase the share of renewable energies and is approaching a nuclear phase-out, but it has failed to introduce a coal phase-out and it lacks an effective policy for a sustainable energy transition.

The new government has to write a coal exit into the coalition agreement, otherwise the climate targets will not be reached.”

 

Arne Jungjohann, senior energy analyst and a consultant for the German Green Party:

"For the first time ever, one party (the AfD, editor's note) has entered parliament which denies the existence of climate change. It will depend on the other parties how this will impact the public discourse and how it will affect Germany's transition to a low-carbon economy. I see two competing consequences: first, the voice of climate denialism might lead other parties to lower their own ambitions or provide coverage to do less. Second, the climate skeptics might provoke a public debate about the sincerity of the threats of climate change which could provide new momentum for political action in Germany."

"Jamaica coalition talks will provide complex dynamics across different policy fields, including energy and climate. Merkel will have to square the circle between the FDPs 'reasonable' energy policy and the Greens' demand to shut down the 20 dirtiest coal power plants. It will be difficult, but not impossible."

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