© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Germany’s Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Lindner and Green Party co-leaders Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock deliver a statement to the media on exploratory talks for a possible new government coalition in Berlin, Germany.
By Thomas Escritt
BERLIN (Reuters) – Whether the Social Democrats’ Olaf Scholz or a Conservative becomes the next German chancellor, they will likely need to bring two smaller parties into their coalition that are widely separated on many of the issues that will shape the future of Germany. Germany.
Any majority will depend on the Greens, led by former competitive athlete Annalena Baerbock and novelist Robert Habeck, and the business-friendly Free Democrats, led by former energy trader Christian Lindner, finding areas of agreement https: // www .reuters.com / world / europe / new-besties-german-greens-fdp-cozy-up-build-coalition-2021-09-29.
While Baerbock’s progressive environmentalists and Lindner’s libertarians are farther from each other than Social Democrats or Conservatives, their young voter bases give them some things in common, especially in social and foreign policy.
NO DANCEMASTER – THIS IS FREESTYLE DISC
In many countries, the president or monarch invites the parties to enter into discussions about the formation of a government. In Germany, it is up to the parties to find their own dance partners.
That can cause confusion, like now, when both the SPD in the first place and the Conservatives in second place say they have a mandate to drag the other two parties onto the dance floor.
But the two smaller parties, the Greens and the FDP, have taken the initiative and agree on common ground before turning to any suitors.
If the talks break down, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier can intervene. In 2017, the Free Democrats abandoned talks with the Conservatives and the Greens after two months. Steinmeier almost ordered a reluctant SPD to step up.
A “grand coalition” of conservatives with the SPD took office in March 2018. Scholz hopes to conclude the coalition talks by Christmas. But if history repeats itself, all bets are off.
The Greens want to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions in 20 years through “a massive expansion offensive for renewables.” The FDP wants Germany to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The SPD and the Conservatives can wait until 2045.
The Greens are also looking to set a blanket speed limit on Germany’s ‘no limits’ motorways, an idea the FDP hates, and the two also disagree on whether combustion cars should be banned in the medium term and further over-taxing cars. air travel.
HOW TO BALANCE THE BOOKS?
The FDP seeks to cut taxes for everyone, a gift that the IW institute estimates will cost 60 billion euros ($ 70.3 billion), which would be almost 20% of federal tax revenue. The Greens want to lower the threshold for those who pay the maximum tax rate of 45% and introduce a band of 48% for those with very high incomes. They also want to reform the debt brake to promote public investment.
The conservative CDU / CSU bloc wants gradual tax cuts, while the Social Democrats (SPD) want to help the small- and middle-income earners and raise taxes for the top 5%.
Together with the Conservatives, the FDP rejects a “debt union” and wants to ensure that the joint borrowing of the European Union to finance the EU’s coronavirus recovery package remains exceptional.
The Greens are in favor of a common European tax policy to support investment in the environment, research, infrastructure and education.
The SPD sees the recovery package as the basis for generating new confidence in Europe and has spoken of taking steps towards a fiscal union.
AND THE WORLD?
The Greens and the FDP are more cautious of China than the SPD or the Conservatives, agreeing that Chinese companies should not be involved in building Germany’s next-generation telecommunications networks to keep them safe.
The Greens say the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which will bring gas from Russia to Europe, will increase Germany’s energy dependence on Russia and should not be allowed to go online. The FDP doesn’t go that far, but it’s more skeptical than the SPD.
In some areas, the Greens are a lonely minority: alone among the four parties that could enter the government, they oppose increasing German military spending to the NATO goal of 2% of economic output.
In other areas, the FDP is alone. The other three parties would raise the hourly minimum wage to 12 euros ($ 14). The FDP says this is not a government business.
THE ANTI-FAX ALLIANCE
Both the Greens and the FDP are strongly in favor of investment to improve digital infrastructure. They share a base of young voters exasperated by the German civil service by fax and telephone.
The broad consensus could be helpful in hiding their differences in fiscal policy.
The Greens and the FDP would legalize cannabis sales tomorrow, as would the SPD, and allow people to vote from the 16th.
All three parties would be willing to allow dual citizenship, a big change for thousands of ethnic Turks, many of whom remain foreign citizens after decades in Germany.
The Greens and the FDP would allow public officials to wear religious headscarves at work. The SPD and the Conservatives would not.
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