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A notified defeat?

The Grand Coalition in Germany concerns the future of politics itself.


(BERLIN :) The "coalition of new opportunities" has been called the grand coalition between the two German people's parties, the Christian Democrats (CDU / CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), which now seems to be a reality. But the "No Other Opportunity Coalition" is a more precise term after the September 18 election did not give a pre-announced government constellation a majority alone and both chancellor candidates, Angela Merkel and Gerhard Schröder, claimed to lead a black-red government.

As the weekend approached, the shuttle traffic of Mercedes cars between Willy Brandt-Haus and the Riksdag and Konrad Adenauer-Haus and the Riksdag, where the party leaders negotiated, became more frequent. You could not check the online newspapers at your local coffee shop without being asked: "Haben wir jetzt einen Kanzler?"

Only last Monday came the answer. Germany's new leader is an exception in most respects. She is the first woman to climb the top peaks of power in Germany, and she is the first Chancellor of the former GDR. Yet it was like that had to go. After all, Merkel got more votes than Schröder. In purely real politics, however, the growing conflict of interest between Schröder and the strong man in the party apparatus, Franz Müntefering, was more important. The SPD was in a situation where Schöder's irreconcilable line could stand in the way of the party's influence. And then the front began to crack. Thus, an era is over in German politics. Schröder has announced that he will resign from politics after seven years in the chancellor's chair.

But the SPD sold itself dearly, and got eight of the cabinet posts. The CDU / CSU had to manage by six, but with the chancellor and the so-called Chancellor's Office, there is formally eight to eight in the cabinet. Thus, both the tug of war and the compromises will persecute the government.

What kind politikk it will lead, is also in the blue, or in the red and black party corridors, until further notice. Only a very few cases are known. Among other things, there is agreement on a major investment in research and development, and some of the CDU's most antisocial reform proposals have been dropped. Family policy is also an announced focus area. But with SPD people in all the heavy reform ministries and also in the Foreign Minister's chair, the vice-chancellor's chair and at the head of the Ministry of Finance, there are many indications that Merkel will have a tough turn to keep it all together. It is too early to say what the consequences will be for relations with the United States and for EU co-operation, Turkey and so on. What it has to say for the future of European social democracy is an important, but, also, unresolved question. The SPD is an injured animal and will probably both demand and have a relatively large impact. The task Merkel is facing is to get two (actually three) parties to school on each other after many years of strife to pull in the same direction. If the two people's parties in German politics are to get through this with credibility intact, however, they will have to create results. That is basically the only thing that speaks in favor of this coalition. Doing something about the economic stagnation and an unemployment rate that has exceeded five million would be a good start. But how to achieve it without stifling the welfare state? That is the fundamental problem of politics today.

Over the weekend, the real negotiations on the government platform and the stools will begin. They are said to last until October 14. Then the parties must approve the outcome of the negotiations separately, which at least in the SPD can present certain problems. The first signals after the basis for negotiations became known last Monday, indicate unrest in the ranks – especially in those on the left, but also where people believe that the SPD has been left with black money and all the difficult and unpopular ministries.

Finally, the Bundestag must approve it all. The speculation carousel is already spinning again.

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