Wednesday, August 10

Who are Greens and liberals, keys to the future government of Germany

The verdes they can be considered the winners of the federal elections in Germany. The environmental party has managed to shoot its results by six points in 2017 to position itself as the third force with 14.5% of the votes. However, the taste is bittersweet, as this summer the party was targeting 25% that would have made it the leading political force in the country, an unprecedented event in its history. Despite this setback at the end of the campaign, the Greens seek to enter the next German government and thus condition the policy of the leading European power. The Social Democratic leader, Olaf Scholz, has already pointed out that his intention is to form the first red-green-liberal tripartite in the history of the country.

Until 2019, the political influence of the greens was tied by the hands. Although between 1998 and 2005 the party had managed to place its issues on the German agenda by being part of the coalition government with the Social Democrats headed by the Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the following decade was followed by a journey through the desert in which the Greens became a marginal force whose influence was limited to 8% of the German citizenry.

This changed about two years ago. With the end of the Merkel era on the horizon, environmentalists have moved to a leading role in the german politics. After the 2017 federal elections, the greens began to grow in the polls. Catapulted by the European elections, this past May they reached a voting intention of up to 26%, surpassing for the first time in history the conservative CDU of the Chancellor Angela Merkel. Although that summer dream has ended up being limited to 14.5% of the votes obtained this Sunday, environmentalists have a leading role in the formation of the government and in the future of Germany.

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Liberals, hinge

Something similar has happened with the liberal party (FDP). Since its appearance in politics in 1949, the formation functioned as a hinge to dress both conservative and social democratic governments (SPD). In 1998 that was broken and returned in 2009, when they allied with Merkel. After four years ruling hand in hand, the chancellor devoured like a mantis the successes of her executive partners along with the liberals, which in the following elections ended up disappearing from the German Federal Parliament.

In 2017, after four years of crossing the extra-parliamentary desert, the formation once again exceeded the electoral limit to return to political life with an important 10.75% of the votes. However, their leader, Christian Lindner, broke by surprise the negotiations for a tripartite together with the CDU and the Greens, which led to another new Grand Coalition.

The leading role of both formations can take different forms. Greens and German liberals aspire to enter the next government together with the conservatives of the CDU – known as Jamaica coalition– or from the hand of the Social Democrats – what is known as traffic light coalition-. In both cases, the majority they would get would be large enough to govern smoothly, beyond the probable internal turbulence. On the other hand, the greens have one more way: to be the lever of a great coalition between conservatives and social democrats to be part of the so-called Kenya coalition.

All that multitude of options has already been tested, not at the federal level, but at the national level. Greens, Liberals and Conservatives rule in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, while greens do it together with conservatives and social democrats in Saxony and Brandenburg, in addition to other two-sided combinations in other ‘länder’ of the country.

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How is it possible? We go in parts. Although that reality is difficult to extrapolate in SpainIn Germany, coalitions between formations of different ideology is a common reality. There, alliances and agreements between governments are part of normality. And they are possible for different factors.

Capitalist surrender of the greens

In the case of the greens, that reality is possible because environmentalists left their origins behind long ago. The party was born in the 1980s as a citizen protest, environmentalist, feminist and countercultural movement. Although this served to upset the political game of the time and break into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) – the capitalist bloc – the internal ideology ended up mutating and the pragmatists gained ground over the idealists, abandoning Marxist positions to embrace a green capitalism. Over the years, the party’s principles were adapted to reality until it ended up being sold in favor of militaristic policies and support for cutting the welfare state, which undermined its position and gave Merkel room to co-opt its postulates. .

Converted into a centrist party, with progressive positions in the social, but liberal in the economic, it has now allowed them to assume a more comfortable position to attract voters from all political spectra. The 14.5% obtained this Sunday is the best result in its young history. His current political program is based on accelerating the climate plans of the current Grand Coalition – also the suppression of the use of coal – and on social measures such as increasing the average wage, increasing taxes on large fortunes and lowering them for the middle and lower class . However, they seek to keep pensions as they are.

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That position will allow those of Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck vascular between idealistic and pragmatic positions depending on who your governing partners are. Its strong electoral result will be, in any case, a crutch to influence the course of Germany in the next four years.

Liberals, to power

The future of Germany could be in the hands of the liberals. Especially the economic one. The liberal return to German political life in 2013 has changed an increasingly personalistic match that revolves around the prominence of its leader, Christian Lindner, who aspires to be the next Minister of Finance, thus conditioning European economic policy.

In recent years the party has been deeply traversed by the personalism by Lindner and by a political marketing that tarnishes everything. Torpedoing the negotiations to enter government in 2017 turned out to be a tremendous mistake from which they have learned. Liberals want to be part of the next government, an opportunity for political influence that they do not want to pass up.

During the election campaignLiberals have defended ideas such as less social restriction due to the coronavirus, generalized reductions in taxes and public investment, and the elimination of subsidies for electric transport. Regarding climate, they reject the prohibitions of polluting cars and seek to accelerate the trade of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, leaving the climate crisis in the hands of the supply and demand of the free market. The FDP has made the electoral flag of digitization, a problem that, even in the case of the leading economic power of the European Union (EU), is a major problem.

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