The Greens of Die Grünen and the German liberals of the FDP are to meet, from Monday, September 27, to try to find common ground before negotiating with the CDU and the SPD on who they will choose as the next chancellor. Never has the role of kingmaker been so important in Germany… even if it means weakening the chancellor.
Who will they crown? The Greens and the Liberals of the FDP are expected to turn the corner in Germany after the very close result of the general elections on Sunday 26 September.
The two contenders for the post of chancellor – Olaf Scholz for the Social Democrats of the SPD and Armin Laschet, for the CDU, Angela Merkel’s party – are no longer the political stars of the moment, 24 hours after the announcement of the first results. Everything now rests in the hands of Christian Lindner, the boss of the FDP, and the duo formed by Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock, the leaders of Die Grünen.
Uses and customs forgotten
They know that neither of the two big parties will be able to form a government without them. This is why, “for the first time in German political history, the two small parties will meet on Monday, September 27, even before starting negotiations with the CDU and the SPD”, underlines Klaus Schubert, political scientist at the Institute for Political Research of the University of Münster, contacted by France 24.
An initiative that has enough to put the small political microcosm across the Rhine in turmoil. “It is a break with the traditions according to which the leading party at the end of the election [le SPD en l’occurrence, NDLR] sets the agenda for negotiations. And we know how much the Germans are generally attached to conventions, ”notes Klaus Schubert.
This upheaval in customs and traditions shows how the situation is unprecedented across the Rhine. “It is very clever on their part because if the Greens and the FDP manage to come to an agreement, they will be in a position of strength to negotiate with the SPD and the CDU by imposing their own agenda of demands”, summarizes the political scientist of the University of Münster. It would also be a first in Germany, as the leading party usually sets most of its priorities.
But the Greens and the FDP still need to come to an agreement. And it is not won. The FDP has already refused, in 2017, to participate in a coalition with the CDU and the Greens, because the liberals considered their agenda incompatible with the priorities of environmentalists. Christian Lindner spent his time, during the campaign for the 2021 elections, suggesting that the Greens would destroy Germany’s economic dynamism in the name of the fight against global warming if they came to power.
A liability that will not prevent the two from getting along, assures Sudha David-Wilp, director of the Berlin office of the think tank of the German Marshall Fund, contacted by France 24. “Christian Lindner will not be able to afford to be fine. mouth a second time after [son refus en] 2017 is his last chance. As for the Greens, they believe that the climate emergency leaves them no other choice than to participate in a government to try to act, ”summarizes this political scientist.
But on what to agree? “Both can claim to be the parties of the younger generation [les Verts et le FDP sont les deux formations les plus populaires parmi les moins de 30 ans, NDLR] and they will seek to play on this by highlighting themes such as the modernization of society, through the dematerialization of the State or even through socio-cultural reforms such as the strengthening of gender equality ”, notes Hans Vorländer, political scientist at the University of Dresden, contacted by France 24.
They will also try to slalom between the red lines of each other. Which is not going to be easy: the FDP absolutely does not want to hear about tax hikes and has promised to reduce taxes for the richest, while the Greens want to finance tax cuts for the middle classes thanks to a stronger tax burden on large fortunes.
In addition, environmentalists demand that the state invest heavily to make the economy greener, while liberals are apostles of spending containment.
Irreconcilable points of view? Not so fast. The two parties have already started to discuss ways to make everyone in the FDP and among the Grünen happy. “One of the ideas would be to establish a kind of exceptional budget to fight against global warming and whose expenses would not be taken into account to assess the level of Germany’s deficit,” notes Hans Voländer.
And then, even if this is not the priority of this first round of negotiations, there is always a way to start talking about allocations of ministries to pass other pills. “Christian Lindner [chef du FDP] shouted enough from the rooftops that he wanted to become finance minister, ”recalls Sudha David-Wilp of the German Marshall Fund.
Robert Habeck also covets this seat, but perhaps in exchange for a little flexibility on the question of taxes, the Greens will be satisfied with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs …
With Laschet or Scholz?
It is also necessary that the CDU or the SPD accept what the two “small” parties will negotiate between them. The FDP and the Greens have, a priori, more chances with Armin Laschet. The CDU candidate “plays his political survival on his ability to form a government and become chancellor. He will be ready to make more concessions than Olaf Scholz, ”said Klaus Schubert of the University of Münster.
Therefore, from a pure tactical point of view, the FDP and the Greens would have an interest in allying themselves with Armin Laschet, because they would be sure to be in a position of strength in the government. For the liberals, it could be a win-win calculation: if all goes well, the party will benefit, and if “the government fails, the FDP will be able to blame the CDU and continue to siphon off the voices of the right,” Klaus analyzes Schubert.
But that would be particularly cynical as an approach, adds the political scientist. Above all, it would mean “to make an alliance with someone who nevertheless appears to be the big loser in this election,” recalls Hans Vorländer. It would not be the best effect for the image of the parties to participate in such a coalition, and Germany would have a weak chancellor at its head at “a time when Europe needs a strong German government to help drawing a stronger Europe against the United States, China and even Russia, ”notes Hans Vorländer.
As a result, Olaf Scholz appears to be the candidate most likely to convince the Greens and the FDP to form a government coalition with him. But it is “obvious that there will be turbulence at the start to define the place and the importance of each in such a team”, estimates Sudha David-Wilp.
Everyone agrees that the various German parties will do everything to find a compromise before the end of the year celebrations. If only to finally be able to turn the page Angela Merkel. Otherwise, she would be forced to pronounce her 17e end of year political speech as chancellor.