It’s Official: Germany Gets a New Government
Munich - Almost three months after the elections on September 22nd, Germany will get a new government. After the CDU and CSU already voted for the coalition treaty, 76 percent of the SPD members voted for the coalition in a referendum.
Although Angela Merkel will start her 3rd term and will exceed even Helmut Schmidt to become third-longest in ruling time after Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, it will also be a new government. The CDU, CSU and SPD agreed on a coalition to renew a great coalition that had already ruled between 2005 and 2009. During Merkel’s first term, the CDU/CSU and SPD were only one percent apart. Now it’s 17 percent. It’s the third time in German post-war history that the CDU/CSU and SPD have built such a large coalition. In a historic review, both coalitions from 1966 to 1969, (Kiesinger/Brandt) and 2005 to 2009 (Merkel/Steinmeier) were considered very successful.
Both sides feel somewhat uncomfortable, however, it soon became clear there is no real alternative. CSU Bavaria’s prime minister Horst Seehofer, also leader of the CSU, will take an important position within this coalition, giving the state of Bavaria more influence on the federal level than any other German state.
Both CSU and Bavarian SPD won additional seats in the Bundestag. CSU won all 45 Bavarian constituencies and an additional 10 seats. The Bavarian SPD got 22 MP, 6 more than 2009. Both parties declared their main positions become part of the treaty. CDU/CSU wanted no tax raise and SPD a minimum wage, for example. Critics say both sides just
added their wishes, which will cost an additional 4 billion euros. Many supporters think the other side was more successful in the negotiations.
The new vice chancellor and SPD leader, Siegmar Gabriel, takes responsibility for economics and energy change. Before energy change was split between ministries of economics and environment; now, one of the major challenges is concentrated. In other news, Alexander Dobrindt, Secretary General of CSU, will become minister for traffic and digital infrastructure. For the first time, internet policy will be allocated by the government. A surprise was the nomination of former minister for social affairs, Ursula von der Leyen, as minister of defence. The first time in Germany a woman becomes commander in chief of the Bundeswehr.
It’s very likely that this new Merkel/Gabriel government will be very stable. In a situation with a strong economy and low unemployment, that is what most people want. Fundamental reforms are not planned. However, during the last great coalition Germany was also hit by the global finance crisis, and most experts agree Germany mastered this very well.