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Thursday, December 2, 2021

The political experiment under the leadership of Schultz in Germany is taking shape




After the 2017 Bundestag elections in Germany, Almost six months have passed Before the new coalition government came to power. This time is different.If, as expected, Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party is confirmed as Chancellor in the Bundestag vote scheduled for the second week of December, it will take more than 70 days for Germany Form a government Since the September 26 election.

Given that the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party face the task of forming the first three-party coalition to rule Germany since the 1950s, the pace of progress is encouraging.However, the joint agreement announced on Wednesday obscured Potentially embarrassing policy differences Three political parties that have never governed together at the national level. The areas that need attention are the pandemic, fiscal policy in the context of Germany and the Eurozone, and foreign policy towards Russia, China, and NATO.

Covid-19 infection rate in Germany has reached Highest level This month since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020. Urgent need for mandatory vaccination, Adopted in Austria. However, several states with high anti-vaccination sentiment in eastern Germany and the FDP oppose such comprehensive measures.

For the incoming government, the difficulty will be to develop a coherent route Health policy All three coalition parties can agree to join the 16 German states as much as possible. The aim should be to avoid the mixed messages from the federal and state governments that confuse and divide German society during the final weeks of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration.

Despite being the smallest of the three parties in the new government, the Liberal Democratic Party is expected to exert more influence than its weight in key areas of coalition policy. If FDP leader Christian Lindner takes over as Minister of Finance, this is especially true for public financial management.

The three parties have agreed not to change Germany’s “debt brake”, which is a constitutional restriction on government borrowing, but the FDP goes further than the Social Democratic Party and the Green Party and does not want the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund to become a permanent tool European economic policy. FDP take The same tough line The Eurozone needs to restore the strict fiscal rules that were suspended during the pandemic.

The incoming government must find a way to reconcile its commitment to fiscal discipline with its commitment to increase domestic public investment, especially in terms of digitalization, infrastructure, and climate change measures.The Green Party won the proposal Phase out coal From 2038 to 2030, but this may also test the limits of budget constraints. On the EU stage, the new government may face calls from France, Italy and other countries to be more flexible when renegotiating fiscal rules.

Finally, the three parties of the incoming coalition do not agree on foreign policy. The Green Party and the Liberal Democratic Party have taken a tougher line against Russia and China this year than the Merkel government pursued, and the Social Democratic Party is part of the Merkel government. The nuclear weapons policy and Germany’s failure to achieve NATO’s goal that each member state should spend at least 2% of its gross domestic product on national defense have also caused tensions.

With Merkel’s resignation after 16 years in office and the first Social Democratic Party-led government since 2005, Germany is in a new political realm. Allies and friends in the country are counting on the new government to make a good start.

tony.barber@ft.com




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