Correspondent in Berlin
With the meeting that starts at eleven in the morning today between social democrats red (SPD), liberals yellows (FDP) and the eco-pacifists Verdes, negotiations begin for the formation of the ‘semaphore’ coalition, with which Olaf Scholz he hopes to become the German Chancellor.
The negotiators They will be adjusted to a script with time slots for each thematic block and the first day will run from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. For the fabric of this kind of peace treaty between political parties that have fought on opposing sides during the last electoral campaign and that have inflicted serious damage on each other, a neutral territory has been chosen, the CityCube, a postmodern annex of the mammoth Berlin congress hall. From there would emerge, in case of successful conversations, the foundations of “a new beginning for Germany».
This is the only expression that all those involved in unison subscribe for now, and this is the first time in the history of the Federal Republic that the winner of the elections does not call for negotiations.
If the negotiation starts it is as a result of the call to negotiate that the green directive made at 10 in the morning of this Wednesday. “Ideological issues must reach a sense of satisfactory stability,” the co-president of Los Verdes pointed out as the only red line. Robert Habeck, although it has been leaked to the German press that there are three demands that they are not willing to give up: a reform of the European Stability Pact, a significant opening on immigration and the abandonment of combustion engines before 2035, which is the date set by the EU. Germany, as a producing country, would have to set an earlier abandonment in order to meet that date.
Neither of these points at first seems impossible to bear for the German liberals, whose leader, Christian Lindner, accepted the invitation at 11.30, insisting that his party will take stock and take decisions “step by step” and also avoid mentioning red lines.
However, Lindner has made it clear in preliminary talks that he will not accept tax increases and that he will fight for the survival of the debt brake in the German Basic Law, which calls for budget stability.
The alternative ‘Jamaica’
Neither Christian Lindner nor The Greens definitively ruled out the alternative coalition, called ‘Jamaica’, arithmetically possible and which would be led by the conservatives. The name of this option responds to the combination of colors of the flag of that Caribbean country and that coincide with those that represent the conservative (black), liberal (yellow) and environmental (green) parties.
Habeck pronounced, by the way, a phrase that would later be widely and humorously commented on by users on social networks: “This cookie has not yet been eaten.” But they made it clear that “there will be no side talks.”
It was the conservatives themselves who raised the white flag in a cacophony of declarations. First of all, the Minister of Chancellery, Peter Altmeier, tweeted that “the stoplight train has already left the station,” implying that the CDU / CSU was staying on the ground. Then the president of Bavaria, Markus Söder, translated the announcements of Greens and Liberals as “a de facto rejection of the ‘Jamaica’ coalition. And finally, the still president of the party, Armin Laschet, starred in a brief and somewhat funereal press appearance in which he reiterated on three occasions that he is still available for a Jamaican negotiation, but that he respects the decision taken by the tripartite ‘semaphore’.
When all had already spoken and when all the possible readings had been analyzed, at 2:30 p.m. Olaf Scholz finally appeared before the cameras, on the paper the leader of the government coalition in the process of formation. In a fleeting statement, only 71 seconds long and 116 words long, he managed to say that “citizens have given us a clear mandate to form a government and now we have to work on it.”
He summarized his programmatic approach to the negotiations stating that “it is about finding ways to modernize our country and intensify the fight against climate change. Tomorrow we start ”, from which it follows that he is open to practically everything that is asked of him and that his strategy is to expose himself as little as possible in order to make the minimum inevitable mistakes and suffer the minimum wear and tear.
A rough dialogue
But although yesterday it was all smiles and good words, the negotiations that begin today in the German capital are predicted to be harsh between parties with very opposite positions, especially in fiscal matters, and that they will take place under the sword, not very sharp but true, offered by the open possibility of forming the ‘Jamaica’ coalition.
Lindner recalled yesterday that an agreement with Merkel’s CDU “remains a viable option in terms of content.” But the fact is that in the first scoping meetings the FDP has already found adjustments that make the ‘traffic light’ agreement possible, or at least help.
The member of the green directive of Turkish origin Cem Ozdemir he has admitted that “we would not begin these explorations if we had not found common intersections and a vision for Germany.” “The transformation of our economy towards climate neutrality is a Herculean task, but in my impression there is broad agreement on the goal and coming together will be exciting,” he advanced, suggesting that the Greens would be willing to give up their electoral promise to establish a 130-kilometer-per-hour limit on German motorways, where drivers still enjoy many free-speed sections.
All the members that would make up the ‘stoplight’ agree that these negotiations should not take too long. According to Habeck, “It doesn’t have to take forever, it’s not about working out a detailed coalition agreement. The point is to establish a political agreement or not to establish one.
All have also maneuvered to gain the explicit internal support necessary to cover their backs, since clearly a negotiation between such distant parties will require painful ideological sacrifices.
Baerbock and Habeck have guaranteed the public support of the green youths and have passed an express virtual congress to also secure the support of the militants.
Lindner, for his part, insisted that “we have great internal support, both in the party leadership bodies and in the parliamentary group, to take this step.” “The FDP will only enter a center government that strengthens the value of freedom,” emphasized the liberal leader, “people can trust that.”
Both Greens and Liberals have referred to a “pro-progress center.”